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Transport systems, camera signals and de localization

 

Rosario Messina technical manager of Betamedia reflects on how the modern television production today can face sports with different approaches:

"In the television production there are no "better or worse" technological chains; there are different systems with different potentials."

 

"At Betamedia, a company specialized in the realization of live television events including important sporting events, we have a personal point of view on the evolution in TV production in relation to the transport of signals."

"A traditional TV system for outdoor shooting is typically composed of a mobile vehicle with a super control on board connected to all the cables of the cameras involved in the event.
Sometimes, especially in the context of sporting events, the cameras are positioned away from the OB-Van, and often the distance exceeds the native transport capacity of the used room system."

"In the analogical era, up to 2000, the difficulties related to distances were circumvented with the use of sub-mixing that processed (also with the contribution of a video mixer and a director on board) the signals of a set of cameras to then send a sub-mixed signal to the master's direction.
This approach evidently created many problems of homogeneity and integrity of the final product."

"The arrival on the market around 2002/2003 of the optical fiber for the connections of the cameras, however, did not change the panorama as it did not cover more than a couple of kilometers. The only alternative to overcome this limit was to power the camera on site, with obvious difficulties that often made this an impossible alternative."

"From about 2002 onwards, the use of fibers was started to extend the scope of work, even if they carried few signals of the sub-mix derived from sub-mix.
A disadvantage of this system was that operators in remote cameras did not have a proprietary tally and the intercom was the same to everyone."

"With the evolution of the fiber signals transport these problems were overcome, even if the real problem that remains is that it is essential to create an often complicated and expensive system and, above all, it must be customized for each location."

"The next major step was to transform these expensive and tailor-made plants into a "standard" facility that could be used 365 days a year."

"With the launch of the patented FlexiVan system, Betamedia has proposed this, a modular system that gathers the complete but independent and configurable technical sections on the exact size of the event, so as not to immobilize resources and be able to reallocate them in other events."

"Other companies have instead tried to industrialize a process, camera by camera; that is, instead of clustering cameras, they carried all the signals of one or two cameras at most.
The limit was the need for lots of fiber to make connections, so the wiring and tests became more complex."

"The next step was to use the optical multiplexing CDM technology to make it possible to transport "everything" with a single fiber pair and a possible second pair of redundancy."

"Other methods of transport have been added over the years, such as those of Telecast and Bluebell, which feed the camera on site and allow all the services downstream to be directed.
The limit is that the indispensable power point can not be more than a couple of kilometers (if not less, sometimes 1500) from the camera itself.
So the camera with the optical fiber can be taken anywhere as long as it has an electrical point available at a distance that does not exceed the power supply range of the SMPTE cable."

"Another system that has prevailed in recent years is the Mediornet of Riedel Communications, used by large broadcasters for its hybrid technology, which relies on both the possibilities of optical multiplexing for the number of fibers needed, and on the electric mutliplexing through a system of processors of which these devices are equipped.
Overall, interesting in terms of costs, it allows the transport of signals of all types, where the only limitation is that the typical stand-alone system must be mounted and wired when needed, and therefore involves settling operations with on-site wiring (and costs grow)."

"Betamnedia's FlexiVan transportable system and its latest version FlaxIPvan IP, however, are standard in every use because the wiring is the same, despite the distances between venue and direction can also change a lot from event to event."

"Obviously, a complete mobile production vehicle often remains and by far the best solution.
The only problem is the rigidity, i.e. in case of maintenance, the vehicle itself remains stationary and not operational.
In the case of separate modules, which manage a control system like bricks in a game, you just stop the module that needs maintenance, while others can continue to work where needed.
So the FlexiVan system allows the delocalization of resources: the devices that are normally wired - and therefore fixed in directing - are physically placed in mobile modules freed from the central direction and can, therefore, be shared or physically on another event."

In conclusion, the same event managed by two different broadcasters could be approached with very different technical choices and all depends on the type of event to follow and who makes the choices."

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