Monza, the third largest municipality in Lombardy region by number of inhabitants, preceded by Milan and Brescia, saw the men's semi-final and the women's final of the Volleyball Champions League.
The venue was the Palazzetto (Sports Arena) of Monza, called Candy Arena, where the television production of the event was carried out by MediaNews, thanks to a mobile OB-Van IP NDI and Dante Audio.
The most obvious feature of this gallery is the complete operation in IP or NDI (Network Device Interface), realized by NewTek devices.
In fact, the on-board devices, such as the video mixer, instant replays and graphic contribution systems share the same IP technology and the entire audio system operates on Dante technology.
In fact, it is a vehicle in which the typical SDI distribution no longer exists, nor audio of analogical nature and all the signals are processed and transferred in IP.
MediaNews is a production company born many years ago, connected to a local television in Verbania, for which all external productions were carried out.
Roberto Musso as managing director and technical manager tells us: "Over time I took the company out of the local area and created productions for Fox Sport, Lega Volley, Mediaset, SKY and others.
The main feature of MediaNews is that it has always tried to use unconventional solutions in order to reduce costs and increase the flexibility of television productions.
The choice of using NDI technology continues in this innovation path and introduces a big difference, ie it allows to lay out a single network wiring on fiber that carries everything, audio and video and data, which, therefore, is much simpler, instead of using separate cables.
This, from the point of view of production and cost organization timetable, is a big difference from the past or in any case compared to other solutions still widely used."
Volleyball was another interesting opportunity to use this recent technology because the wiring of a typical game with five cameras, graphics, commentary posts, etc., in a rather large building like that of Monza was set up in record time: only 90 minutes.
From the mobile vehicle, physically located just outside, an optical fiber link is carried inside the Palazzetto and from there the cameras, the reporter station and everything are connected.
The difference is striking compared to traditional systems that require 3 to 4 times the set-up time required here.
Roberto Musso says: "Even the weight of the ob van is decidedly lower than that of a traditional tv vehicles, therefore the circulation limits are much lower and also the power mains consumption is very low.
Just a normal supply of electricity, even the typical civilian of just 2.5KW, is sufficient, since the equipment is completely different from the traditional gallery and consumes a lot less.
Even any PU generators are really small, 3KW and can work for many hours."
Another important advantage of this solution is that by no longer using SDI video and analog audio, the size of the control equipment can be drastically reduced. This results in a much larger space available for operators than in the past.
In fact, even the longest-running vehicle "Jumper" L4 can comfortably accommodate up to 4 people plus director. This would be completely impossible in a traditional gallery given the size of the electronic racks.
The interior spaces in the gallery are, therefore, completely different from those of a traditional one.
The design of this mobile vehicle is by Roberto Musso and the realization is by MediaNews in collaboration with Adcom and NewTek who supplied the equipments on board.
The standard that is the background to the production is the proprietary compressed Newtek version competitor of SMPTE 2110 (uncompressed) which allows great advantages in terms of costs, in fact working in NDI it is possible to use and share much lighter network IT infrastructures.
Roberto Musso explains: "For the on-site set-up, starting from the director Van, an optical fiber is placed inside the building which is then split to the cameras, the comment stations, the graphics and all that is needed.
The HD cameras used here were JVC HD, some audio gear by Glensound, a Behringer's audio mixer, Newtek VMC1 video mixer.
The video control desk is very large, with 44 inputs and 30 outputs 8 ME bus and it must be emphasized that being the NDI system with independent resolution, this desk can actually work in 4K, provided 4K cameras are connected."
The typical configuration of the cameras plan follows the official requests by the Volleyball Federation which in this case implies the use of two radio cameras for mobile contribution shoulder operated with Swit radio links and three other cameras positioned: one on the short side of the court and two on the long side; one angaged taking wide shots, while the other dealing with closer shots.
The two radio cameras are positioned on the sidelines and deal with narrow shots of the game as well as the proposing subjective takess of the exultant and empathic public, as well as pre-post game interviews.
During the time-outs, an audio boom operator, equipped with a radio microphone picks up the sound of the coaches' discussions. Two other microphones placed on special tripods in the center court, behind the competition judges, take the environment sound in stereo.
An additional microphone placed flush with the network takes up the noise of the game.
The choice of Dante technology is very important because it also reduced time and costs issues for the live broadcast: all microphones were connected to a Dante converter placed on the sideline and all signals were delivered to the gallery through the use of the same optical fiber used for video distribution.
Commentator boxes are Dante Audio native.
Roberto Musso: "Another interesting aspect is that the company Grafica & Multimedia has created all real time scores and statistics graphics from the short side of the court, providing the graphic signal in NDI.
So a simple network connection is used to transfer also graphics and key signal (two audio signals and two video signals to and from), allowing also to save a lot of installation and wiring time."
An event of this kind required the use of five cameramen, an audio technician, a video mixer operator who also acts as a director, a replay technician and a tech supervisor, therefore a very agile crew.
Using these technologies it is possible to remotely control any device via the network; for example from the commentator box on field it is possible to remote the audio mixer and adjust the levels, so avoiding interaction with an operator physically placed in the control room.
In practice, from the court side it is possible to remote operate both video and audio mixers and therefore in the setup phase if it is necessary to control particular signals or to set some levels on the spot, it is not imperative to have an additional person connected in the gallery, but it can all be done independently, thanks to IP technology.
So today it is feasible using the model of remote production in its entirety and therefore count on interesting general cost savings, moving on premise only the indispensable resources.
"In my opinion, "concludes Roberto Musso, "today the presence on the spot - typical of traditional tv production systems which NDI technology facilitates and simplifies - obviously allows greater empathy in the event and makes it more beautiful for the public at home.
In fact, in a remote production there comes a time when you miss the physical presence and the interaction with the public that is definitely great part of a super sports show."