The International Broadcast Center at the Olympic Games 2012

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Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), the host broadcasting organisation in charge of the London 2012 Olympic Games, appointed EVS to provide technology solutions and support services to guarantee the high standing production of Olympic international broadcast feeds, as well as a multitude of media exchange and service delivery for the international broadcast community.

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EVS solutions have been implemented to enable various OBS operations such as:
• Live replays and highlights production
• Multiple feed recording, logging, permanent storage and exchange/browsing with production teams and multiple Rights Holding Broadcasters (RHBs)
• Interfacing with the Olympic Data Feed (ODF)
• 24/7 playout control for the Olympic News Channel (ONC)
• A tape library management system.

General Broadcast Production Workflow

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In addition to OBS operations, EVS systems have been made available as a rate card facility to RHBs for their unilateral productions within the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in London or at their local broadcast studios.

Live Replays and Highlights

At the venues, EVS was providing live production servers and controllers that enabled the different venues’ production teams to manage all replays and action highlights during live operations.

EVS video servers were used in most of the 52 OBS-managed mobile production units deployed across the 43 London 2012 venues to manage the recording of multiple feeds originating from 1,230 HD cameras deployed by OBS to cover every sporting event. Controlled by multiple hardware and software video tools, the EVS servers were used to control all the live replays including slow motion, and hyper slow motion, and to manage the creation of quick highlights.

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EVS video servers were used in most of the 52 OBS-managed mobile production units deployed across the 43 London 2012 venues to manage the recording of multiple feeds originating from 1,230 HD cameras deployed by OBS to cover every sporting event. Controlled by multiple hardware and software video tools, the EVS servers were used to control all the live replays including slow motion, and hyper slow motion, and to manage the creation of quick highlights.

In total, over 300 EVS XT series production servers were deployed in OB facilities across the 43 sites, which represents about 1,800 video recording/playout channels that were being used to produce the live programmes and highlights.

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Content Management

In addition, EVS equipment was used by the production teams for content management operations that assisted the production and post-production teams at the IBC or at the venues. Clips created on the server were logged using IPDirector software, and the best ones were stored and made accessible to the different production teams from all over the world.

Mixzone Ingest and Metadata on iPad

To reduce operations at the IBC’s logging/archive room when creating MixZone interviews managed by ENG crews, OBS needed a solution that would allow on-site producers to create interview clips directly on the IBC archive server.

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EVS iXT iPad App was used by the on-site producer to create clips and add descriptive metadata following Mixzone interviews

To meet these requirements, EVS had deployed a new iPad application, iXT, to control the recording of MixZone interviews and to add descriptive metadata directly from venue. The interviews were ingested into an XT3 production server at the IBC. The producer at the venue used the iXT MixZone iPad app to create a clip on the server and push it to various destinations including:
• A central media server for multilateral or unilateral production access (high res and low res)
• An Avid media server for the Olympic News Channel production teams

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Media transfer was an automated process that relied on the operator at the MixZone adding metadata when the clip was created using the iXT app.In addition edits could still be made at the IBC using IPDirector.

In total, six XT3 servers at the IBC were dedicated to MixZone interview clips. Each server is configured with six inputs, with a capacity of nine hours of HD per input (a total of 54 hours of HD per server).

IBC Operations Overview

As part of the global contract with OBS, EVS was providing and setting up the London 2012 Media Server at the heart of OBS’ operations. Besides fulfilling the requirements of OBS’ multilateral operations at the IBC, the London 2012 Media Server was also provided as a rate card facility to RHBs for their unilateral productions. The Media Server provided by EVS was a unique media exchange platform with associated software tools providing a wide range of services and applications including:
• HD-SDI ingest of feeds from different venues
• Permanent central storage
• Video logging and interfacing with the Olympic Data Feed
• Client browsing and delivery
• OBS multilateral production editing media exchange
• OBS 3D multilateral production packages
• Multi-dispatch playout
• Olympic News Channel 24/7 playout system
• Backup and archiving

HD-SDI Ingest of Feeds from Different Venues

All live video feeds from the 43 different venues were recorded on the Media Server in high resolution as AVCIntra 111 Mbps using 12 EVS XT3 production servers. The XT3 servers used for ingest were each configured with four recording channels, offering a live storage capacity of 110 hours of HD per system (1,320 hours of HD in total, corresponding to approximately two days of competition). Recording operations were controlled using the Ingest Scheduler module of EVS’ content management suite, IPDirector.

A total of 12 XT3 production Servers were used for the ingest of different feeds coming from 43 venues

Feeds ingested on the XT3 servers were streamed to three different destinations using EVS XTAccess controlled by IPDirector’s Ingest Scheduler. OBS teams were using IPDirector’s User Rights Management tool to allow recorded feeds and media to be streamed to browsing platforms:

1. Permanent central storage for unilateral and multilateral production access
Based on the EVS XStoreSAN storage system, the OBS Media Server’s permanent central storage offered a total storage capacity of over 6,500 hours of HD (288 TB) with 30 Gbps bandwidth. Media streamed from the XT3 ingest server was saved in both high resolution (as MXFOP1A Panasonic AVC-Intra 111Mbps) and low resolution (as H.264 TS). The low res format was generated on-the-fly by the XTAccess devices during the media transfer operation. OBS production teams used the EVS permanent central storage for browsing and multilateral production. In parallel it was accessed by RHBs for browsing and media exchange.

3. Web server for offsite client browsing
Live incoming feeds and logging information was also available as low res H.264 TS files for multilateral offsite production operations.

Video Logging and Interface with Olympic Data Feed

Logging operations weresegmented between live logging and post-logging. Live logging was managed by OBS operators using 50 EVS IPDirector / IPLogger modules during live operations. A dedicated log sheet was created and associated with all incoming feeds. The logs contained descriptive information such as sport, event, phase, sport data (eg fall, collision), description and participants. Keyword grids were created in the IPDirector database based on the Olympic Data Feed (ODF) information list received through the StarList gateway tool. The logs were associated with the recorded feed as accurate timecode data. A specific keyword grid was prepared for every event and associated with the IPLogger control panel, allowing the operator to associate descriptive data with the incoming video feeds.

All logs were centralized in an IPDirector database as XML files. These files were used to retrieve media easily from the Media Server. They were also exported and used as printed labels for Tape Library Management System (TLMS) operations, as required for the IOC archive management.

All logging information available in the IPDirector database was exported - using a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) API - by sports data management specialist DeltaTre for insertion into the Broadcast Data Feed (BDF). Produced by OBS and distributed to all broadcasters, the BDF was a data feed designed for RHBs. Embedded in the live coverage, it included the Olympic Data Feed (ODF) which included specific information about the competition (schedules, start lists, results, etc), as well as broadcast-specific information (IBC distribution channels, graphics and metadata generated by the EVS logging system, Olympic News Channel rundowns and the RHB news bulletin).

Post-logging operations, allowing operators to add logging information after the event has happened, were available using a similar method, but with the IPDirector Software Player being used instead of IPLogger to review files stored on the Media Server’s permanent central storage.

Client Browsing Solution and Delivery

The OBS Media Server was configured to offer three different types of browsing operations:

1. Multilateral client browsing
The OBS production teams working on multilateral broadcast packages could access the London 2012 Media Server to search for specific content which they then imported locally. EVS had put in place two different browsing tools for multilateral clients: IPDirector and IPBrowse, IPDirector’s new thin client browsing application.

IPDirector: Within IPDirector the same keyword grids and dictionaries used by the loggers could also be used to search for media. The user could  choose whether to search within the media (clips) or logs. They could choose to search logs within a single log sheet or a directory of log sheets.

IPDirector's browsing interface is based on keyword grids

Once they’ve found their media, the operator could use the Software Player module of IPDirector to create a subclip and rename it (using Mark In, Mark Out and New Clip functions). Depending on their user rights, they could choose to transfer the clip to different targets or to bin locations where it could be stored.

IPDirector clients could browse content on the permanent central storage (XStore SAN cluster) and the XT3 ingest server cluster in either high or low resolution (high res browsing was restricted due to bandwidth reasons).

IPDirector's Software Player is operated to create sub-clips and define file destination

IPBrowse: The IPBrowse application offered a more text-based style of searching, with Google-style autocomplete functionality. Users could search in one area and could choose whether to display a clip-based or log-based view. As with IPDirector, they could search individual log sheets or groups of log sheets. When users had found their media they could also create sub-clips with the option of where to send them. They had a single ’User Bin’ to store their media before using a send-to target (if necessary) for either the entire bin or selected elements in their bin. The IPBrowse client only had access to the permanent central storage, and was able to view only low resolution files.

IPDirector's new application module IPBrows enables text-based searching of content in the media server

On-site RHB client browsing of the OBS Media Server is managed using IPBrowsing

2. Unilateral on-site browsing
RHBs (unilateral users) at the IBC with access rights to the OBS Media Server (based on option two of the OBS Media Server browsing rate-card facility) were using the IPBrowse application to search for content for their unilateral productions. Unilateral users could transfer their selections to their own production systems. Delivery was managed through a Gigabit Ethernet link to the client’s system. Unilateral clients were allowed one destination target each.

3. Unilateral off-site browsing
RHBs located outside of the IBC with access rights to the OBS Media Server (based on option three of the OBS Media Server browsing rate-card facility) were using a web-based version of the IPBrowse application to search for content for their unilateral productions. The web application browsed low res media hosted on the Media Server. The transfer of media from the permanent central storage to RHBs located off-site was managed using a GlobeCast web-based file delivery system.

On-site RHB client browsing of the OBS Media Server is managed using IPBrowse.

OBS Multilateral Editing Media Exchange

All editing tools used by OBS production teams for multilateral production packages were provided by Avid. These included an integrated ISIS storage and Interplay search tools environment for the editors of the Olympic News Channel (ONC). EVS ensured recorded media and metadata transfer into the Avid Interplay environment. Media was transferred via XTAccess and checked into the Interplay database using Avid’s Web Services.

All finished edits were sent to the EVS XT production servers dedicated to playout and/or to the permanent central storage for exchange via Avid’s Transfer Manager software. EVS automatically generated a low res version of all edit files transferred to the permanent central storage.

OBS 3D Multilateral Production Packages

OBS was producing 230 hours of 3D programming, mainly covering events at the Olympic Park, including the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, gymnastics, synchronised diving, canoeing and other aquatic events. 33 3D camera systems had been deployed, with 11 being used for each 3D production. The ENG crews shooting in 3D were using the Panasonic AG-3DP1.

For OBS’ live 3D operations, EVS had deployed a dedicated 3D production set up at the IBC that was used by the OBS team to ingest 3D feeds from venues, and to work on specific production packages that were transferred to the Avid storage for final editing operations before playout. The system was composed of three XT3 production servers configured with 10 recording channels (5 x 2 ganged channels for left and right eye) and eight playout channels. OBS teams could manage the recording and playout channels using IPDirector. In total, four stations were used for managing ingest, playout and archive, four were used for browsing clips, and four for logging.

OBS' 3D production system relied on EVS production infrastucture

For OBS’ live 3D operations, EVS had deployed a dedicated 3D production set up at the IBC that was used by the OBS team to ingest 3D feeds from venues, and to work on specific production packages that were transferred to the Avid storage for final editing operations before playout.

The system was composed of three XT3 production servers configured with 10 recording channels (5 x 2 ganged channels for left and right eye) and eight playout channels. OBS teams could manage the recording and playout channels using IPDirector. In total, four stations were used for managing ingest, playout and archive, four were used for browsing clips, and four for logging.

EVS Xedio Dispatcher stations were deployed at different venues for an instant review of 3D sequences shot on Panasonic 3D P2 devices. Venue operators using Xedio Dispatcher could manage their rough cut edits and send them to the XT3 server and Avid ISIS through a fibre connection between the venues and the IBC.

Multi Dispatch System

For the first time ever OBS decided to implement an extended media dispatching operation for RHBs’ unilateral productions. 11 ready-to-air HD channels were available for worldwide distribution through encrypted satellite links. 10 channels were dedicated to the Olympics sports, and have aired 2,200 hours of live programming and 500 hours of edited packages. The remaining channel was for the 24/7 Olympic News Channel.

The OBS Multi Dispatch System (MDS) offered 10 playout channels, and four additional ’re-feed’ playout channels. The four re-feed channels included a combination of ad-hoc playout and manual playlist, and were fully controlled through IPDirector’s playout module Control Panel. OBS operators working in the main dispatch area could select one of the three servers to load selected clips to that output channel for playout with simple options like Play, Play/Reverse and Loop.

Multi dispatch operators were able to create and play out playlists using the Playlist Panel module of IPDirector. Playlist creation features included:
• Selected clips ordering
• Insertion or removal of clips while the playlist is playing
• Live insertion or delay feed into a playlist
• Group clips (apply loop or annotations to the group)

The OBS production teams working on the Olympics News Channel (ONC) were using Avid’s iNews Newsroom Control System (NRCS) to create rundowns (playlists) including script, graphics and video information. In total OBS broadcasted 460 hours of continuous news in HD over the 2 weeks of competition.

The news channel operations relied on EVS production servers for playout. Playout activities were segmented into three main operations:

1. Rundown/playlist creation
Users associated XT server elements with the iNews rundown. When an edit is exported to the main and backup playout server the operator used the EVS ActiveX plugin to associate the EVS Clip with the iNews rundown. When the rundown was ready in iNews, or partially ready, the users ’monitor on’ allowed Avid and EVS MOS Gateways to communicate. This created a playlist on the main and backup ONC XT3 playout servers which was updated when the iNews rundown was changed.

2. Transfer to playout servers
Media was transferred from the Avid editing environment to the main and backup XT3 playout servers using Avid’s Transfer Manager software.

3. 24/7 playout
The playout system was fully redundant with two XT3 servers and two IPDirector playout stations playing out 24 hours a day for four weeks of broadcasting the ONC. The operator was able to control eight playout channels (for both XT3 servers) and one playout channel from the record machines at the venues.

Back Up and Archiving

EVS has provided a complete backup archiving solution for all media which also could be used for disaster recovery during the event. The archiving solution allowed OBS to archive all material easily and effectively on a daily basis on backup archive systems based on XF2 systems. In total, 140 XF2 removable hard drive disks had been provided to archive 5,600 hours of content in AVC-Intra (100Mbps).

In addition to back-up archives on disks, EVS had provided a solution for creating Blu-Ray disks controlled directly from the IPDirector interface. The system created sub-clips, exported them, converted them into a Blu-Ray compatible format, applied the appropriate template, and burned them onto a Blu-Ray drive. The archive operators directly could play out any content stored on the XT3. If they needed to play out any content from the permanent central storage, they had to restore it to one of the XT3 playout servers.

Tape Library Management system

EVS TLMS was a tape labeling system that collected log sheets from the logging systems of the Media Server to identify content backed up on tape. Once their logging session finished, the loggers exported their log sheet to the TLMS and printed labels for the different media on a TLMS client station. At the end of the day, the TLMS allowed the archivist to print the daily print out of the tape inventory and the daily report with all associated logs in both csv and xls formats.

Total System Capacity

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