Europa League Final uses Blackmagic to wow audiences

Thursday, June 06, 2013

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Things like camera planning are all started months in advance. However the exact specifications of what you need to supply in terms of video distribution aren't firmed up until after you know who is to be in the final.

Last month saw the biggest ever broadcast operation for a single day football match in Dutch television history, when the UEFA Europa League final took place at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday May 15, 2013. Vying for the title were England's Chelsea Football Club and SL Benfica from Portugal. The reported worldwide television audience was around 175 million viewers. 

Infostrada Sports produced the final on behalf of RTL Netherlands and UEFA and facilitated host broadcasting, which comprised of three HD video feeds distributed globally. Infostrada chose Dutch company United as the technical supplier and started its preparations for the final in August 2012. The game made use of 36 cameras, including many special slow motion models. An integral part of the video distribution in the TOC was the Blackmagic Universal Videohub 288.

Building the TOC

A Technical Operations Centre (TOC) was handling multiple feeds for match, built and equipped by international full service hire firm Broadcast Rental together with United. All signals were distributed for more than 20 international broadcasters on site and off site.

"Even for a Europa League game, which is generally smaller than the Champions League, this was massive. There were around twenty different broadcasters who wanted to use the signal," said company co-owner and CTO, Martijn Swart. "Things like camera planning are all started months in advance. However the exact specifications of what you need to supply in terms of video distribution aren't firmed up until after you know who is to be in the final. So you can't know exactly how many broadcasters will take all the signals and therefore how much you need to supply, until about a week before the match. The TOC was just an empty portacabin when we started working there on the Friday [before the match]."

The Blackmagic Universal Videohub 288 was an integral part of the video distribution in the TOC. This 3 Gb/s SDI and deck control router offers the ability to send and receive video signals over long distances using optical fibre. The format used at the Europa League Final was 1080i 50, over HD SDI.

The 288 x 288 crosspoint size of the Universal Videohub used in Amsterdam allowed the users to add up to 72 SDI and optical fibre SDI interface card, each featuring 4 inputs and 4 outputs, plus a breakout cable port for deck control.

"All the signals and video distribution were fine and we didn't have to implement any backup plans. It was a great final, all the way to the end, when Chelsea scored in extra time," concluded Martijn.

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