From February 29th to March 1st, one of the last stages before the finals of the Ski World Cup 2020 takes place in the Aosta Valley precisely in La Thuile, with three women’s races on “Franco Berthod” slope: two Super G and a combined downhill slalom.
The TV production by Infront, requires footage based on tv sources completely in 4K UHD HDR BT2020 and 10-bit colour coding, due to satellite broadcasting on Eurosport, always in 4K. The TV feeds generated “on site” delivered in simulcast, in addition to the one in 4K, also provide the clean feed and the dirty feed in 1080i for international worldwide distribution and, therefore, double distribution chain involving the various broadcasters present for personalisation at the event. Present is every major European network, particularly dedicated to skiing and winter sports, with the massive presence of RAI for personalisation dedicated to Italy and Eurosport, first in Italy to distribute “the white circus” in UHD for those who have a suitable tv panel at home.
Two days of great passion for ski lovers and the athletes are engaged in two races on the same track: the combined women’s downhill special slalom and super-G.
Infront, tv rights holder, has chosen the Euro Media Group as global technological partner of this event and, in cascade, two of the affiliate companies to EMG have been involved, top-level companies with huge expertise on snow, such as the Belgian Videohouse for shooting facilities and mobile vehicles in UHD and the Italian Global Production for the entire productive, artistic team, technical crew and connection and distribution UHD signals techniques.
Chris Demeulemeester of the Belgian Videohouse informs us about the details: “The first problem raised by such a 4K UHD television production is related to the large amount of UHD sources that are used. 21 cameras are scattered along the slope, all Grass Valley Group LDX86N models, and also include specialty cameras such as a Polecam, two radio cameras with VisLink bridges and two super slowmotion 3X. These sources, that is, the Polecam, which uses a pico Antelope camera, the two radio cameras and the super slow motion, shoot 1080p images which are then upscaled in 4K thanks to the Sony video mixer on board the Unit2 mobile vehicle”.
Unit2 is the mobile vehicle, with double expansion on both sides, that Videohouse has decided to use as the technological heart of this 2020 Ski World Cup event. Three days are necessary for the impressive fibre cabling, extendig up to 15 Km of hybrid and non fibers with a capacity of 120 monomodal single streams and as many days will be necessary for the setup of the cameras and special devices for signal transport involved.
The tech plant is really mighty and to guarantee quality Global Production fields a 10 people specialized tech crew with a 20 years expertise in shooting mountain World Cup to comply to any safety requested detail and to guarantee even last minute extreme intervention capacity based on maximum response. These skills are the essence of such teams operating in extreme conditions which guarantee a perfect functioning of the advanced technologies involved in shooting the spectacular images of skiing. In the following two days the athletes test the slope and at the same time the production carries out the technical tests aired by some of the broadcaster interested, in order to to clear any doubt of camera positioning. From here we get to the two-day event that is broadcast live on television.
There are 48 technicians involved and of the 21 cameras only two operate with RF radio links, free to move anywhere, along the slopes and among the crowd at the start and finish lines. The Polecam is located in front of the start house. For recordings and replays the Mobile Unit2 uses 4 EVS XD3 Channel Master. The graphics and the time keeping of this as of all the other Ski World Cup events are managed directly by the FIS which commissioned Swiss Timing. Netco Sports, co-producer together with Global Production, supports the technical management of filming and production in general, with the useful presence of Francesco Donato Netco Sports CTO. All staff are coordinated by Global Production and Videohouse, EMG affiliates. .
Davide Furlan, CEO of Global Production, points out: “Here in La Thuile we do not use our most powerful mobile unit as would be the custom, the well known OB8, because at the same time we’ll be engaged in another very important event, precisely Juventus-Inter, the reference match of this year, entirely shot in native 4K HDR for SKY Italy and SDR for the resto of the world. The football match is held on February 28th, however, a week before this event and always with OB8, we will be engaged in an match between Turin and Parma football teams which will be important especially from a tech point of view. Actually we will produce this event for SKY in native HDR REC 2020 with a C Standard decided by Lega Calcio, precisely using twelve native HDR cameras, creating the first real transmission in Italy shot in native 4K UHD HDR 2020. Returning to the Ski World Cup 2020, let me emphasize that Infront reconfirms its truly remarkable production capacity, testified by the trust placed in it by various international federations, including the FIS. The presence in almost all the World Cup races of Alpine Ski, Nordic Ski, Ski Jumping, freestyle and snowboard, demonstrates the ability to propose the central production profiles, producers and directors, to always achieve an excellent tv signal worthy of these important sports, by relying on specialized trusted technical services, such as Global Production Netco Sports and Videohouse in La Thuile. This has allows Infront to guarantee for many years an adequate high quality for a top international television product, even in production areas considered not easy” and in difficult locations in the wilderness and electronically challenging like high peaks.”
The track and the director
The production also relies on a helicopter, used not so much for aerial shots, but above all to bring the necessary equipment, such as cameras and scaffolding, lenses, tripods, cables, along the slope.
The slope in La Thuile is very demanding for the athletes and for all the technical staff who must install the system, also because it winds through a forest and with constantly iced slopes.
The director Sandro De Manicor, assisted by his assistant Franco Scotton, always prefers a storytelling style based as much as possible on images proposed by shoulder cameras. The cameramen, in this case, practically move on ski on the track and work on iced areas with harpoons. They work as close as possible to the athletes passing to give the spectator the maximum view, the sensation of the slope and the difficulty of the downhill.
The shoulder operated cameras mount lenses with shorter optics, 22x, usually very performing and light, which do not fog up, and with a good focal ratio. This allows to produce images with a more realistic depth of field and greater dynamics, unlike the cameras on the scaffolding which, having to operate from a greater distance, must use greater focal length lenses with consequent flattening of the perspective planes. Here too, as in all the World Cup races, all staff are subject to the stringent safety regulations imposed by FIS, the International Ski Federation.
Media Contact Roberto Landini PressPool.it