Remote production and the coronavirus: effects on ski

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A series of events of considerable importance revolve around skiing, also from a technical point of view and of great interest for television production.

Alpine skiing includes races with fast slopes races, slalom and all its variants.

Nordic skiing, on the other hand, gathers winter sports disciplines on non-downhill skis, and includes biathlon, cross-country skiing, telemark, Nordic combined, ski touring, orientation skiing, ski archery and ski jumping.

Global Production, a super-specialized mobile production vehicles company, uses its powerful technology on the tracks of both groups of disciplines, mainly followed by large ob-vans that also manage remote control galleries, with no operators on board.

The particular charm of these varied snow adventures touches prestigious and classic locations in Italy for these events, such as Val Gardena and Bormio, Santa Caterina, Alta Badia, Madonna di Campiglio as regards the Alpine disciplines, Tesero in Val di Fiemme and Dobbiaco in Val Pusteria instead for the Nordic skiing, and others.

The Tour de Ski, and the Nordic Combined, took place in January 2021 in the Dolomites, where, in Val di Fiemme, on 8th, 9th an 10th on the hard Alpe del Cermis track they challenged each other with great difficulty. Men and women followed, in the various stages of 15 and 9 Km, by the technical structures of Global Production.

 The production placed a control room in the Alpe del Cermis area completely remote operated by one of Global’s largest mobile vehicles, the OB6.

 A total of 38 cameras including the “specialty cameras” followed the first round of Tour the Ski in Dobbiaco (5th and 6th January) and also the second fascinating stage “Final Climb”, always at Cermis, that is the Tour de Ski Final on 8-9-10 January 2021.

The three locations involved were the Predazzo Ski Jump Stadium, the Cross Country ski circuit of Lago di Tesero, where a mass start was performed, and the Piazza dei Campioni of Cavalese where the opening and awards ceremonies were held.

Global Production has been following these events, on behalf of the rights holder and producer Swiss Infront, with its own technical means since 2013 (previously RAI took care of it) thanks to the great specialization that allows it to deploy about sixty technicians, and – among the several – a helicopter equipped with Cineflex and two track quads that follow the athletes on the move and shoot images thanks to a light steadycam and radio links.

OB6, hired as the main gallery to produce the host broadcaster feed, guarantees the correct “anti-pandemic” interpersonal distance between the operators on board, given the large internal square footage for each of the different control areas. 

Located in Tesero, the super gallery of the OB6 also controlled in remote production a second smaller control room, located near the ski jump trampoline in Predazzo, over 22 km away.

This was made possible thanks to 48 full fiber connections between the super galley, the MCR and the cameras, connected to special hub intermediate stations, multiplexed Riedel Mediornet and fiber-to-fiber conversion systems for system cameras.

Each race in each of the three days forced a change of configuration of the technical setup and challenged the 60 crew members divided into two separate crews that made live TV coverage on Eurosport HD and RAI HD possible.

The difficulty of these productions arise from the high number of cabled camera points used to satisfy the different disciplines on different days: the change of race from one day to the other requires “important” set-ups inside the obvan to ensure the correct vision of the sources and the routing of signals towards replays, MUX and more.

The opinion of Moreno Roncon who followed the events as technical coordinator:

Thanks to fixed connections, made ofwith dark optical fibers and laid by Trentino Network that wired the valley, we can completely remote operate cameras, microphones, monitors, interviews, and all the equipment in the trampoline jump area.
In practice the only operators are there. All the remaining technicians, including director and satellite link broadcast equipments are almost 30 km downstream.
This remote production is an appointment that Global has been carrying out since 2013, having led the way in remote production at that time.

Besides, the typical problems related to Covid pandemic have led to the opting for a very large vehicle, such as the OB6, able to guarantee the necessary distances between the various personnel on board.
Then external spaces were prepared, where necessary, with special containers

The opinion of Davide Furlan, co-ceo of Global production:

Even though we have been super specialized for years, the very high degree of complexity of these productions on the snow added this year to the unpredictable “covid-19 variable”, made everything much more complicated and expensive. Covid in 2020 imposed a logistics and personnel management at the limit of nervous breakdown for our managers.Unfortunately, each Local Organizing Committee acted according to its own directives – certainly not unified – each establishing which was the best health protocol to use and with obvious differences.

The television service, by nature, must solve all problems related to the logistics of the crews and vehicles involved in production and we hire hundreds of people arriving from different parts of Italy for these events. 

Some come from home, others move directly from one venue to another, making the management of the health protection very complex, given that we all have to and want to work safely.

Thus, we had to solve emergency situations due to sudden positive swabs, operator replacements, provide backups, manage fearful staff who refused the engagement, also for fear of encountering difficulties in returning home: in practice a real nightmare for the which there was no history, and even less a procedure.

This year the achievement of customer satisfaction objectives has taken on an even more qualifying value, there is no doubt“.

Media Contact Roberto Landini

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