Article Overview

The Highlight of the Sporting Year 2013

11 Medal Events in two weeks

From an Austrian perspective, the Alpine World Ski Championships 2013 were the highlight of the sporting year 2013. Schladming and the entire state of Styria was Austria’s window to the sporting world from 4 to 17 February.  Ski stars from 70 countries performed in 11 exciting and fair competitions to win one of the 33 medals.

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All ladies’ and men’s races took place at the ski resort Planai. All the race courses ended in the impressive finish stadium located in the middle of Schladming. In this huge arena thousands of enthusiastic fans and a breathtaking atmosphere overwhelmed the athletes – at the men’s slalom more than 40 thousand spectators followed the ski stars on their way through the gates – an absolutely unforgettable experience!

All men’s competitions took place on the same slope and the downhill race was one of the highlights of the World Championships. This was possible because the organizers had built a new starting slope with a gradient of 74 percent. The course began at 1,753 meters above sea level with an altitude difference of 976 meters to the finish stadium and the daring downhill athletes had to complete a race of 3,282 arduous meters. Also the slalom race challenged the athletes: The international slalom elite had to find their way through the gates on the finish slope of Planai, which is one of the most difficult slopes with a maximum gradient of 52 percent.

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As the men, the ladies had their own slope. Only the giant slalom took place on the men’s slope. The ladies’ downhill race started at 1,479 meters above sea level and the course was 2,757 meters long.

The host broadcaster ORF delivered top-quality, unbiased international coverage of all eleven events in close cooperation with FIS, EBU and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) to a word wide audience. ORF’s highly awarded directors Fritz Melchert and Michael Kögler brought the essentials of the competition to the audience. They produced a definitive storyline for all broadcasts, while capturing the action using innovative camera angles and the latest acquisition technology in combination with dynamic and emotional replay sequences. In addition the distinct atmosphere and the colorful crowds were an integral part of their story telling.

The HD coverage was enhanced with a compelling 5.1 surround sound audio plan which brought the TV audience as close to the action as possible.

Host Broadcaster Production
ORF’s host broadcaster operation in Schladming (HBORF) consisted of around 300 persons who were working on the 50 hours of live productions and transmissions, the production of the various additional contents (World Feed Plus), the administration, organization and logistics during the 14 official days of the World Championships.

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The central part of the international production was the coverage of the 11 medal events on the Planai ski resort and in the Planai Arena. On behalf of HBORF Euro-TV was responsible to solve all production related issues before during and after the competitions. Euro-TV had setup a base camp close to the Kessler Alm half way up the Planai Hill. Euro-TV was handling 72 tons of audio and video equipment (cameras, microphones, fiber cables, camera cranes, tripods, adaptors, etc.) and 23 tons of construction material for the setup of safe but compelling camera positions close to the slopes.

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Due to the fact that some of the camera positions needed to be re-positioned from one race to the next race a team of 148 technicians were continuously fulfilling requests of the directors by optimizing the camera positions independently from the weather conditions. To give the team the best possible flexibility it had access to 6 SUVs, 4 Ski-doos and one Helicopter. Also catering for this team was set up at the base camp. All the camera and audio signals were transferred via fiber cable to the OBVan compound at the Planai Arena where Euro-TV had based two HD OBVans: HD-1 from tpc covering the women’s competitions and Ü2HD from TVN covering the men’ competitions. Also the medal award ceremonies from the Medal Plaza were directed from these HD OBVans. Both HD OBVans were equipped with Sony MVS-8000 vision mixers and Sony HDC-1500 and HDC-3300 cameras. The cameras on the tpc HDOBVan were equipped with Fujinon lenses while the TVN cameras were delivering the images via canon lenses.

Technical Facts and Figures

Men’s Races (Planai Arena) - Coverage with a total of up to 47 cameras (depending on the discipline) which included
·    6 wireless cameras
·    1 wireless Steadicam
·    1 Polecam
·    1 crane camera
·    2 mini cameras (positioned in the snow at jumps)
·    1 Wescam Helicopter camera
·    5 SuperSloMo cameras
·    2 UltraSloMo cameras (Antelope)
·    1 mini UltraSloMo camera (covering the spectators in the arena)
·    1 CamCat cable camera system (400 meters)
·    1 hand/helmet camera (for track presentations)
·    2 beauty-shot cameras with ultra wide angle lenses

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Ladies’ Races (Planai Arena) Coverage with a total of up to 45 cameras (depending on the discipline) which included
·    6 wireless cameras
·    1 wireless Steadicam
·    1 Polecam
·    2 crane cameras
·    1 Wescam Helicopter camera
·    5 SuperSloMo cameras
·    2 UltraSloMo cameras (Antelope)
·    1 mini UltraSloMo camera (covering the spectators in the arena)
·    1 CamCat cable camera system (450 meters)
·    1 hand/helmet camera (for track presentations)
·    2 beauty-shot cameras with ultra wide angle lenses

In order to be able to show the fascination of the sport and the unique atmosphere along the slopes and the huge finish stadium, ORF Sports Director Hans-Peter Trost and his team including the two directors Fritz Melchert and Michael Kögler have come up with a lot of innovative ideas: Five SuperSloMo cameras (HDC-3300 from Sony) and two UltraSloMo cameras (Antelope from LMC) made visible every very little detail of the ski, the snow and the athlete. Even extremely fast movements of the athletes speeding down the slopes with more than 100km/h were sharply shot and displayed by the two Antelope cameras that recorded the action with up to 2,500 frames per second.

To let TV viewers feel the high speeds of the athletes, HBORF used two CamCat systems. These “flying cameras” (consisting of a CineFlex 5-axis stabilization system and a Sony HDC-1500 camera) run on two parallel ropes several meters above the slope and followed the athletes on their way down the hill: the viewers had a bird’s eye view of major parts of the slopes.

The CamCat cable camera accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in only 2.8 seconds and achieves a speed of up to 140km/h.  One system was following the ladies’ during their performances (on 450 meters) while a second system was following the men’s competitions.

On Thursday 7 February FIS, ÖSV, ORF and Riedel announced in a press conference that for some of the technical events (men’s Super-Combined Slalom, the Team Event, the Giant Slaloms and the men’s Slalom) the athletes have the choice of wearing wireless goggle cameras. Four Riedel RiCam goggles cameras were provided and used by some of the athletes in the competition delivering stunning live images directly from the race track OnAir. Receiving equipment for the wireless signals of the RiCam images was installed by Riedel from Kessler Alm down to the Planai Arena.

A Worlds First: RiCam Live OnAir at the FIS World Championships in Schladming

Opening Ceremony (Planai Arena) Coverage with a total of 22 cameras which included
·    3 wireless cameras
·    2 wireless Steadicams
·    1 crane camera
·    1 Wescam Helicopter camera
·    1 SuperSloMo camera
·    3 helmet camera (for the ski show)

Winner Award Ceremonies (Medal Plaza) Coverage with a total of 8 cameras which included
·    2 wireless cameras
·    2 wireless Steadicams
·    1 crane camera

Press Conferences (at MPC)
Coverage with 2 cameras

The system was rented by sono Studiotechnik. Two Grass Valley LDK-8000 cameras covered all the press conferences. They were controlled by a compact flypack system which was located at the IBC and consisted of a Sony DFS-900M vision mixer and a Yamaha DM-1000 audio mixer. The connection to the cameras in the MPC was realized via the Riedel MediarNet backbone.

Venue Connectivity
HBORF had installed a fiber network across Schladming to ensure the venue connectivity in a very reliable, safe and easy way. Fiber connections were provided between IBC/RTV compound, Planai arena and Medal Plaza. The different fiber termination points were in each case at a venue technical operations center (TOC). HBORF had established three TOCs:
·    TOC 1: IBC/Main TOC
·    TOC 2: Planai arena
·    TOC 3: Medal Plaza

In addition to that some RHBs had booked fiber connections to the different start areas, as well as some special fiber connections to locations outside the official venues (e.g. training course at Reiter Alm).

Feed Concept
HBORF provided the 31 rights holding broadcasters (RHBs) with the international signals from all ladies’ and men’s races and from the medal ceremonies at Medal Plaza. In addition HBORF produced a world feed PLUS, with additional content like course/slope inspections, interviews with the race directors and race favorites as well as the coverage of the press conferences. The world feed plus also included best of SuperSloMo and UltraSloMo sequences. Furthermore, a selection of isolated (ISO) HBORF camera feeds was available at the International Broadcast Center (IBC) and could be booked for unilateral use at the booking center.

In addition to that some RHBs had booked fiber connections to the different start areas, as well as some special fiber connections to locations outside the official venues (e.g. training course at Reiter Alm).

Feed Concept
HBORF provided the 31 rights holding broadcasters (RHBs) with the international signals from all ladies’ and men’s races and from the medal ceremonies at Medal Plaza. In addition HBORF produced a world feed PLUS, with additional content like course/slope inspections, interviews with the race directors and race favorites as well as the coverage of the press conferences. The world feed plus also included best of SuperSloMo and UltraSloMo sequences. Furthermore, a selection of isolated (ISO) HBORF camera feeds was available at the International Broadcast Center (IBC) and could be booked for unilateral use at the booking center.

The IBC was the international gateway for all signals and feeds produced during the world championships 2013. TV and radio signals from each venue were transmitted uncompressed to the IBC via fiber optic cables. All pre-booked ISO feeds were available in HD at the TOC 1 at the IBC.

International Broadcast Center (IBC)
The IBC was a temporary construction, built up on a grassland. It was composed of 96 single container modules, divided into 2 buildings (IBC South building and IBC North building), each with two floors (Level 0/Ground Floor and Level 1/First Floor). The total drawing space of the IBC building was 1,500 sqm.

HBORF’s main facilities such as Master Control Room (MCR), TOC 1, booking office, main coordination offices, etc., as well as EBU MCR, LOC Offices, etc., were accommodated in this building. Furthermore the IBC offered all services the RHBs needed to carry out their unilateral productions and was the international gateway for all broadcast transmissions.

The IBC was located next to the Main Press Center (MPC). The distance from the IBC to the Planai Arena was about 500 meters and to the Medal Plaza about 600 meters.

Master Control Room (MCR)
The HBORF MCR was the center for coordination, contribution and distribution of all signals and feeds. All multilateral and unilateral signals from the venues were monitored and processed in the HBORF MCR and then distributed to unilateral RHBs and the EBU MCR. In addition to the world feed, the world feed PLUS, clean feeds, ISO camera feeds, beauty shot cameras, color bars, black burst reference, test signals and time code were processed at the MCR and were available for RHBs at TOC 1. All signals passing the HBORF MCR were synchronized with the host broadcaster sync-pulse generator / main reference.

HBORF had assigned sono Studiotechnik to setup and operate the MCR. At the heart of the system was a Harris Broadcast Platinum™ router with 11 integrated HView SX Pro™ multiviewers, which were used extensively across displays within the facility. Harris Broadcast signal processing and interfacing equipment included the Selenio™ media convergence platform and 6800+™ modular core processing devices.

A critical consideration for sono Studiotechnik was how to design the most sophisticated production facility within the most compact footprint. In this regard, Harris Broadcast’s ability to provide an integrated workflow solution was important – for example the ability to combine advanced multiviewers within the Platinum router. This was important since it allowed sono Studiotechnik to build compact containers and flyaway units for live production with routing and monitoring in one single frame instead of multiple frames requiring significant external wiring, more space and power. However some Alchemist converters from Snell were part of the installation. Guntermann & Drunck had delivered the KVM matrix. The whole system was control centrally with one VSM controller.  Connected to the system were around 40 control panels. The configuration of the system was made by sono in close coordination with HBORF.

On behalf of sono Studiotechnik GmbH from Munich, Riedel Communications had installed a comprehensive fiber network for transporting video, audio and communication signals at the event.

The signal distribution backbone for this international TV production consisted of 42 MediorNet mainframes and 60 RockNet digital audio interfaces. A total of 160 HD video signals and 200 audio signals were routed through this network. The integration of all relevant signals such as video, audio, Ethernet and intercom in one network infrastructure was designed to reduce effort and cost related to installation. In addition, MediorNet provided the flexibility to change the signal routing at any time.

For wired communications, Riedel had deployed three Artist Digital Matrix mainframes. Furthermore, Riedel had set up a TETRA digital trunked radio network, which was used for the TV production, the opening ceremony and the Audi shuttle service.

TOC 1
The TOC 1 was located next to the MCR and was the gateway for all unilateral interconnections. This included distribution panels for all HBORF signals and feeds, as well as fiber termination panels and connection panels for incoming and outgoing VandA and/or audio circuits. Furthermore HBORF provided a limited space for placing and installation of unilateral terminal equipment.

RTV Compound
The RTV compound for all unilateral RHBs with a total size of approximately 5,000 sqm was located around the IBC building and hosted 39 HD OBVans, HD Edit Vans and HD UpLinks of 15 RHBs.

Planai Arena
The Planai ski resort was the main competition venue where all the ski races took place. Down from the Planai hill two separate courses, one for the ladies’ races and one for the men’s races, ended in one finish arena. The TV and radio mixed zones, commentary positions, announce platforms and TV studios for the RHBs were located at the Planai Arena, just like the host broadcaster TV compound, with space for the two HD OBVans (from tpc and TVN) and additional production facilities of the host broadcast operation like a container with additional six SloMo operators, a container for the control of all the wireless cameras and the LMC Vans for the control of the Antelope cameras.

Also TOC 2 was located at the HBORF TV compound. It was the venue gateway for all unilateral interconnections from the Planai arena to TOC 1 at the IBC. The connectivity was established via the HBORF fiber network and included termination and connection panels for all incoming and outgoing lateral and unilateral fiber, VandA and audio circuits.

Medal Plaza
The winner award ceremonies took place at the Medal Plaza. It was located in the city center of Schladming in front of the Schladming town hall. Here TOC 3 was located. It was the venue gateway for all unilateral interconnections from the Medal Plaza to TOC 1 at the IBC. The connectivity was established via the HBORF fiber network and included termination and connection panels for all incoming and outgoing lateral and unilateral fiber, VandA and audio circuits.

Broadcast Services
HBORF had established various commentary positions and announce platforms for the RHBs

Planai Arena
·    32 Commentary Positions
·    2 TV Studios
·    4 Announce Platforms
·    14 TV Mixed Zones
·    7 Radio Mixed Zones
·    4 Unilateral Start Positions

Medal Plaza
·    1 TV Studio
·    1 Announce Platform
·    2 TV Mixed Zones
·    2 Radio Mixed Zones


Spectator Services
To enhance the experience of the up to 40.000 spectators in the Planai Arena and along the slopes, the LOC had ordered about 600 sqm of video walls from Faber Audiovisual including the necessary support. Faber had installed five screens at the Arena including a 135 sqm AOTO sports video wall. But also for the spectators at the middle station of the Planai Bahn close to Kessler Alm an LED Truck had been moved up with the help of a RatCat.

More LED screens from AOTO and Mitsubishi were installed at Medal Plaza. In total Faber Audiovisual had installed 15 LED screens to support the spectators at the various events.

Technical Power
Technical power was provided by HBORF at all relevant technical broadcast areas. All technical power supplies were backed-up in an uninterruptable way with generators, twin-generators or UPS systems (depending on the different situations and conditions at the relevant locations). Technical Power connections were recommended for all HD OBVans and broadcast devices connected to HBORF’s technical setup. Technical power connections were available from 16A single-phase up to 125A three-phase. HBORF has ordered the this service by “The Power Company”.

HBORF – Number One in Alpine Skiing
ORF is the world’s number one when it comes to covering alpine winter sport events – a number of international awards prove this, also the fact that ORF employees are regularly invited to cooperate with foreign broadcasters when they have to cover alpine ski events. And in Schladming 2013 ORF wanted to top everything done so far. HBORF was able to fulfill this ambitious goal and delivered the best broadcasting of a world ski championship so far. Millions of people got more than an impression of the exciting medal competitions, but also of the magnificent scenery and the unique atmosphere during all the events in Schladming.

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