Remote production for longines global champions

The Longines Global Champions Tour is the most prestigious series in international showjumping. The tour currently reaches 17 locations across four continents, and features the leading riders and horses in the world.

Digital Azul, a leader in innovative streaming and production services, works with the tour to create GCTV Live Studio, which provides high quality streamed coverage of every event, along with a lot of programming around the series. Each event in the series typically runs for three days.

The Challenge

Traditionally, television coverage would involve renting an outside broadcast truck at each site, and moving the full crew around the world to manage each broadcast. This is expensive in terms of travel and subsistence for the crew, and also limiting because of the number of people that can be moved to each event.

More important, each unnecessary journey and truck movement increases the carbon footprint of the operation. GCTV was keen to reduce its environmental impact.

The Solution

To address these issues, Digital Azul developed a complete remote production model for GCTV. All production operations are managed from a dedicated master control room in Lisbon, Portugal, where the team, including sophisticated graphics and replay facilities, work in comfort.

“To achieve our goal, we needed a technology partner that could match our demands for very high quality,” said João Tocha, producer for Digital Azul. “Intinor has an excellent reputation in the industry for products built on its Bifrost transport protocol, and we worked together to create a resilient, efficient solution.”

A Seamless Implementation

Central to the challenge is the distance between location and production centre. The flagship event is in Shanghai, some 11,000 km from Lisbon. Cameras, microphones and data need to be carried securely and reliably over public circuits with minimal latency, together with intercom facilities to link the crew on site with master control.

What makes Intinor a leader in this field is its proprietary Bifrost protocol. This embeds very sophisticated forward error correction and retransmission algorithms, ensuring very high resilience in transmission with minimal latency, over any transport medium. For this application it also manages redundant paths to give even greater security.

On top of this layer Intinor Direkt Routers can be configured for a range of communications and encoding standards. To achieve the highest quality, Digital Azul chose to use the new implementation of the HEVC/H.265 codec.

“Using Intinor Direkt, we transport the signals from four cameras and multiple audio sources from each event location,” explained Tocha. “As well as talkback to our people on the ground, we also need two-way data circuits, for camera shading and to operate PTZ cameras. Obviously that demands very low latency: it is difficult to precisely adjust camera parameters if there is any delay.

“We also have presenters and reporters on location,” he added. “So we need to manage confidence monitors, as well as having low latency audio links for conversations between Lisbon and the venue.”

Intinor also plays a key role in the distribution of the final production. As well as delivering to its own streaming platforms, CGTV is distributed to other key stakeholders through SRT streams, generated by Intinor Direkt devices installed in the master control room.

Game-Changing Outcome

The result is a transformation in production costs and logistics, while maintaining high production values and outstanding technical quality. Redundant paths and backup services mean the live coverage is extremely reliable.

“With a traditional outside broadcast set-up we would have had an eight person crew on site,” Tocha said. “Now we only need four, a cost and carbon saving that means we can dedicate more resources to our production which directly increases the overall quality of our live coverage.”

The partnership with Intinor and the innovative remote production solution has shown Digital Azul to be a leader in global sports production and delivery. GCTV Live Studio demonstrates how remote production technology can revolutionise live event broadcasting, providing a secure, scalable and cost-effective solution.

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