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Full IP for the Alpine skiing television production.

World Ski Cup 2017-2018 (copyright SVGEurope 2018)

For the technical production of some of the most prestigious competitions of the World Ski Cup 2017-2018 Alpine skiing, the two Italian tv production companies Betamedia and DBW, joining forces, engaged the OB-Van "Esterna 14".
The Esterna 14 is an innovative FlexIP-Van that uses massively IP technology with 2022-7 signal routing.
For the first time in Europe, therefore, a full IP system was involved in the Alpine skiing television production, 2018 edition.
In particular, the Men's Special Slalom in Madonna di Campiglio, the Classic Tre-Tre, the Men's Down Hill in Bormio and the Classic Women's downhill on the Olympic slope at the Tofane in Cortina D'Ampezzo were produced in IP.

 

FlexIPvan is the evolution of the original FlexiVan project patented in the USA for television production.
The system was created to meet specific production needs, especially when it is necessary to face consecutive events of a very different production type, in different places and with tight set-up times.

The FlexiVan system, also repeated used for almost 10 years on World Cup races, had its MOW modules connected to the "Star Center" on the OB-Van by means of CWDM optical multiplexing.
In this way hundreds of signals of different nature (audio, video, controls, intercom etc.) were transferred to the mobile gallery using a single cable with only two optical fibers as could be, for example, the cable used for the SMPTE 311-M broadcast cameras.
For example, a MOW Cameras module can connect -with only one cable- not to one but up to a maximum of 12 broadcast cameras, including all services.
In Alpine skiing competitions the MOW cameras units are placed along the track and they will be connected to the triax or fiber cables of each tvcamera.
From every MOW you can get signals to the gallery by the already placed fixed fiber cables or with "Just in Time" placed cables.

With the new FlexIP-Van the concepts above do not change except in the fact that all the signals travel not in native coding but on an Ethernet protocol.
The epochal difference is that the signals are no longer sent to a star center hence to be transferred from there by means of a large matrix.
Each signal, in a full IP system, is routed from ethernet routing to whatever destination it requests, without using a Conventional Matrix.

The FlexIP system does not provide a central matrix. The MOW cameras, MOW EVS and MOW InOut modules connect to the network and allow the basic system to be expanded without limits.
For example, the MOW cameras allows up to 6 UltraHD cameras to be connected to the OB-Van system.
But each MOW is instantly recognized by any OB-Van FlexIP.
This means that with 6 modules, 2 FlexIP could work one day with 18 cameras each, and another day one could operate with 24 and the other with 12 cameras.
In some exceptional event, a single module can stand still and the other can work with 36 cameras.
For a pair of Ultra-HD galleries this is a great added value.
In practice, the system is de-composed at the end of production and is recomposed for each new event exactly as needed, that is transporting on site only the units (or MOW bricks) needed.

Rosario Messina, Betamedia's technical manager emphasizes: "The introduction of IP technology in the broadcast world confirmed how futuristic the realization of the FlexiVan was. While waiting for the industry to make the same equipment the equivalent of elementary MOW, the FlexIP Van will be able to maximize the benefits of this new technology. Thanks to it, the Flexivan moves the investment of the matrix on the single modules. Thus the investment falls from the maximization of the use of the MOW units. The network will also make it easier to connect the MOWs to the OB-Van in the coming years. "

Skiing and the World Championship
is an ideal example of use of this technology, in fact in the just run Alpine skiing championship in the races of the World Cup it was necessary to cover shooting paths and slopes that are about 5 km in the mountains.
The problem has always been to de-locate and transport the necessary resources to useful points, in fact in the past broadcast cameras did not have a range greater than two kilometers so it was impossible to do the job without relying on "intermediate" support technologies and even the use of radio cameras in Europe was unthinkable.
Until 2000, when shooting in PAL SD, the only solution was to use sub-galleries at some points of the race.
From there the sub-gallery provided a single sub-signal that was transported (at the time of PAL) with the radio links down to the valley and from here the main direction rebuilt the complete tv product.

From 2000 onwards until 2004, intermediate fiber-optic stations began to be used and huge resources were allocated exclusively to those productions in order to extend the range of cameras over 2 km.
Once this production was finished, the mobile vehicle were returned to standard type.
In practice all the technologies used in these situations were put aside and reused only in the next edition.
In other words, such an investment was put aside, unused and at every new re-employment it was necessary to re-wire everything and assign new resources.

Rosario Messina explains: "With the new configuration of the FlexiVan we were able to move the basic modules at any distance.
For years we shot ski races and motorsports in racetracks where the range was higher than the single Km reachable with HD (from 2KM SD to 900 m HD), while others employed other transport systems such as Telecast, Riedel (extensions dedicated to lengthening the fateful kilometer). In our case the same modules can be placed in the gallery or at a great distance and the working method does not change. In fact, the fiber optic cable that connects the modules to the direction can be as long as necessary."
"This means that it is not necessary to make an ad hoc wiring or a revision of the whole operation with each new use. In practice, there is nothing to reconfigure.
In any other configuration, such as the typical mobile van with fixed wiring, resources (even those not used) are immobilized and can not be shared with other productions. "
"With our system, investments could be shared with other galleries, while if they are stuck in fixed realm they could not be shared.
In the new IP configuration we have moved a matrix portion in each module and since the router of a large medium is extremely expensive, splitting it into several modules is equivalent to being able to amortize it in shorter times than the typical standard wiring."

"In the case of the Ski World Cup, part of the equipment was brought to altitude with helicopters.
For productions in general, a huge advantage is that we can send the empty ob vehicle, without modules, by ship at low cost, without immobilizing the equipment for the entire time of the trip."
"Then by virtue of the necessary configuration we can collect the modules that in the meantime have been used for other productions (generating income) and send them with small flight cases by air. In this way the immobilization of equipment assets becomes minimal and very reduced, optimizing resources to the maximum. "

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