A New Highlight in the Sports Calendar: Beach Volleyball by SKY Germany
Already in the early 2000s AMBION GmbH (then Ultrasound OHG) was active in a similar constellation for 6 years for the German beach volleyball championships at Timmendorfer Strand. At that time the team tailored a sound setup for the event area and established the "Court Party" on Saturday night in the middle of the Ahmann-Hager arena, setting the standard for the party crowd.
In 2013 AMBION again got the contract for the setup of technical equipment for the entire SMART beach volleyball tour as well as the German Championships at Timmendorfer Strand. The aim was to develop a high-performance setup with the experience of the learnings during the recent years and with the advanced possibilities offered by today’s technology. The focus was on the following aspects: maximum speech intelligibility in the spectator area, fast set-up times, and to comply with all legal requirements (e.g. wind load near the coast) and weather resistance.
The same was the guideline for the setup of the TV equipment to enable SKY Germany to produce beach volleyball as never seen before, neither at World or European Championships, nor at the Olympics. The event “picked up” spectators in front of the TV with new perspectives, other points of view and never seen before camera movements. SKY took the chance to present beach volleyball completely detached from our “learned viewing habits” and opened a new window to the presentation of event sports on TV.
SKY decided to work for the live production of the event with TV Skyline. TV Skyline’s offering consists of an inhouse department for the development of special cameras in addition to a flexible HD OBVan fleet.
Together with SKY the company was thinking outside the box and developed new camera positions and workflows creating a new playground for the presentation of the sports. All special cameras were controlled by remote operators to offer always the highest level of camera settings.
Another focus was on sound: a lot of additional microphones enabled the TV spectators to participate on everything that happened on the playground: the communication between the players during the match, tactical discussions of the players during time outs, the conversation with the referee in the case of controversial decisions and also the enthusiasm of the spectators in the stands.
● SKY Germany produced a total of five events of the SMART beach volleyball series for Sky LIVE
● The set-up consisted of up to twelve cameras per event including SuperSloMotion cameras
● Eight different special camera systems
● CommCam for the commentator and his expert (SPORTS:CAM 5 HD remote)
● ScoreCam for the scoreboard and additional impressions of the match ground, spectators, cheerleaders, and warm-up of the players (SPORTS:CAM 5 HD remote)
● SandCam camera next to the field, showed the power and dynamics of the players from an unprecedented perspective (SPORTS:CAM 4 HD remote)
● BeautyCam at an exposed location with a unique view of the venue (SPORTS:CAM 5 HD remote)
● RefCam mounted at the head of the referee, allowing viewers a unique look from the perspective of the referee. The spectators could follow the discussions between players and referee in the case of disputed decisions or different rule interpretation.
● Birdy, a lightweight camera crane with an LMP HD -1200 camera, extremely flexible, for match coverage and for moderation, no sight obstruction for spectators.
● NetCam attached directly to the net, this remote camera offered great dynamic images of blocks and blares of the actors (Goal:Cam 2 HD); at the final at Timmendorfer Strand, an UltraMotion Pico camera from LMC was used
● an Antelope UltraMotion high speed camera from LMC was in action at the finals at Timmendorfer Strand
Interview with Alessandro Reitano, Director Sports SKY Germany
How satisfied have you been with the workflow based on the SportsCam 5 HD camera series from skyline?
AR: Very satisfied. The workflow was fitting perfectly to our requirements. In addition, we were able to generate numerous new camera angles.
Was it worth the production costs?
AR: Yes! We have set new standards in the TV coverage of beach volleyball. With up to 12 cameras, we have presented the sports quite well. In particular we were very pleased with the feedback from athletes: It was very positive across all participating athletes.
Will you present beach volleyball events in the future with similar efforts?
AR: The aim is to maintain the standard we have developed this season also in the next season. In addition, we again want to place new and innovative approaches for next year’s TV production.
Which special features do you need to consider for the production of beach volleyball?
AR: The difficulty is to respond to the particular circumstances of each location. Beach volleyball is not produced in locations with existing TV structure therefore we have to adjust the setup accordingly.
Which camera positions have proved particularly successful, and are there positions which you will change or no longer use?
AR: Basically, all have camera positions have proven their relevance, however we have slight adjustments in the choice of the lenses. A special highlight was the use of the REF:CAM at the Super Cups in Binz, Kühlungsborn and Timmendorfer Strand and the two UltraMotion cameras from LMC, which we intgrated into the setup at the German Championships at Timmendorfer Strand. Especially the referee camera surprised the TV spectators: they could follow the discussions between referee and competitors in delicate decisions from a new perspective.
How many beach volleyball events were transmitted on Sky in the current season?
AR: Five. Overall, we have produced more than 23 hours of live broadcasting.
Was the camera set-up similar at all five locations?
AR: The basic set-up of 9 cameras was the same for all tournaments. For the German Championships at Timmendorfer Strand, the highlight of the season, we have increased the set-up accordingly. We added the two UltraMotion cameras and the REF:CAM.
How many people worked in the production team?
AR: About forty, at Timmendorfer Strand where we had been live on air for two days about five and a half hours every day of course accordingly more.
AMBION was in charge for the stage equipment including sound and lighting engineering
With regard to the final event, the special design department of AMBION GMBH developed in early 2013 a 2in1-tower solution with special parts that could serve as a hostel for a main sponsor in the basement, but also offered a weatherproof and elevated platform for the presenters and DJ's for the center court sound and the TV coverage. The design offered a fully tested and approved stage with the dimensions of 7m x 4m x 5m (wxdxh), for use in areas of the wind zone 4 / North Sea islands.
In addition to the event tower AMBION was using 18 remote speaker systems (Nexo PS15 R2) with specially developed weather protection for the distribution of voices of the sports presenters.
For the re-launched of the legendary Court Party on Saturday night AMBION established in just two hours setup time a large NEXO Alpha sound system. Furthermore AMBION used a specially-designed wheeled DJ desk for coastal events reflecting all the requested decks & mixers of the N-Joy DJ's.
More compact loudspeaker of the NEXO PS Series supplied the Press & VIP areas with moderation and background sound during the event. For the monitoring of the "Christian Venuss" live acts on Saturday night a wireless in-ear system was used. For all the moderations Shure UHF R series microphones were in operation.
84 spot lights presented the center court on Saturday night in an atmospheric light and unlike in previous years: a single 63A connection was able to do the job. The challenge of low power consumption through the use of LED technology was further challenged by the request to install an adequate and not "small" looking light setup for a 5,000 seat center court with within 2 hours. Also the external weather influences of the German coast could not be ignored. However a satisfied party audience spoke by itself for a successful setup.