The Australian Open is held annually over the last fortnight of January in Melbourne. As the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events of the year it features men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s and mixed doubles and junior’s championships; as well as wheelchair, legends and exhibition events. This year’s Open was NHK’s second year at the tournament and a year where they were looking to expand upon the coverage they had produced previously. For this they turned to Videocraft.
Videocraft’s Nick MacLean explained, “NHK were wanting to broadcast multiple matches per day with their own commentary and interviews, plus a twenty minute daily highlights show. Videocraft were one of the companies they approached to provide facilities and after a period of assessment and evaluation we were awarded the contract.”
Videocraft supplied NHK with and end to end solution based around the company’s latest FlyPack and integrated a video and audio control room, a studio overlooking the Rod Laver Arena garden square and a smaller commentary booth and studio inside Rod Laver Arena. Videocraft also supplied all the local engineering, technical and operational staff as a compliment to the NHK crew who came over from Tokyo.
MacLean continued, “NHK were looking for a cost-effective solution, but also one gave them great flexibility in their production needs. Most companies tend to use a cookie cutter approach but we have found no two jobs are ever the same and so have built our FlyPack to be easily scaled up or down as required. This gives us the ability to tailor systems to exactly what the client needs, so there is no wastage. We also based our proposal around the new Riedel Mediornet MicroNs for all signal transportation between our MCR, the host broadcast and our two remote studios. Using the MicroNs we were able to create a fully redundant video network over 10gigE fibre allowing us to send any of the 30+ feeds from the host broadcaster wherever we needed with minimum fibre infrastructure.”
According to MacLean the feedback from the Japanese broadcaster was that Videocraft’s expertise in this area and their willingness to tailor the production solution to NHK’s requirements as closely possible with the least amount of over-engineering was critical to its success.
He continued, “What impressed NHK the most was that we listened to what they wanted to achieve and proposed a solution that best suited them but also helped them in areas where we could see that improvements and new workflows could be beneficial. We are not afraid to use new technology and push systems to their limits in order to maximise content production and save costs. By integrating technology including Mediornet, Dante, Omneo and a Tallyman central control we were able to create an extremely powerful system within a small footprint, a benefit that was highly valued in the TV compound where space was a premium. Our entire MCR consisted of 4 x 20RU racks, whereas if we worked on a traditional way it would have taken at least double the space and power requirements.”
NHK produced two matches per day and a twenty minute highlight show with Videocraft using an EVS solution for highlights editing, replays and archive. Although file-based archive was new to NHK, MacLean and his team were able to transition broadcaster to the new workflow smoothly.
MacLean added, “It really was a seamless part of the workflow and one where our many years EVS workflow knowledge helped tremendously. The NHK team were very happy as their producers could focus on content creation without having to think about any technology restrictions. We also made sure any request was possible and simple to action.”
As the tournament progressed the NHK team appreciated more and more how Videocraft’s innovative approach and unique FlyPack solution had made their lives not just easier but more efficient as Nick MacLean concluded, “The job went extremely well. Our engineers and the system were able to handle any extra or changing requirements with ease. Mediornet allowed us to add and remove feeds as needed without even having to touch a cable. As production requirements changed from day to day we could reconfigure much of the system with a click of a mouse using Mediornet and Tallyman system control. All in all and considering the size and scope of the Australian Open the production was a complete success.”