The recent Champions League Final was the largest televised sporting event of the year, with hordes of international commentators excitedly describing how Barcelona beat Manchester United, using Glensound commentary technology, writes David Fox.
The host broadcaster at this showpiece event was Sky Sports, which contracted G-Whiz to provide the visiting broadcast commentator positions.
This was the first time that commentators had been presented with HD video feeds for monitoring, and 3D video feeds for the UK rights holders, enabling them to follow replays in more detail. This service was provided by outside broadcast facilities specialists NEP Visions, which sub-contracted it to Creative Technology.
As one of a number of partners to Sky Sports for the event, G-Whiz installed cabling, supplied and operated a selection of Glensound commentary systems, with 32 commentary positions using the GS-OC33 base stations and the GS-OC34 commentators’ units (pictured top), but as many again of the 90 or so total commentary positions also used Glensound units (where broadcasters provided their own systems), including the well known GS-OC26 sub-rack base station and GS-OC24 commentators’ unit (pictured – and which G-Whiz also used).
Installation of the Glensound commentary required more than 3.5km of cable, which was all laid to exact length and terminated on site, using special care to eliminate any possibility of RF interference and hum. After the match, NEP Visions and G-Whiz, worked through the night to completely remove the entire installation to enable the stadium to be returned to Wembley, which was staging a Division 1 play-off match the next day.
G-Whiz had an international crew of six, all veterans of at least six World Cups, and experienced in controlling Glensound equipment at many other international events. Also key in operating the event were Martin Knight and Keith Lane from Sky.
The GS-OC33s in the CCR were connected to the GS-OC34 Commentators Unit (CU) via a single coax cable, carrying audio and power. Each GS-OC34 has facilities for three commentators, with both Programme and Communication circuits, and six independent monitoring outputs. The CUs were in a specially constructed area (pictured) for this Champions League Final, as Wembley’s regular commentary positions were not used.
The GS-OC33 base station holds five modules for five separate programme feeds. This allows an engineer to have easy control and communication across five separate programme channels. A single international sound input is distributed across the five modules and can be independently monitored by each commentator. The engineer can remotely control microphone input gain levels of all commentators, communicate with them, and generate the programme mix output separately. There were six GS-OC33 base stations in use at the Wembley commentary control room, each with five programme channels available.
The GS-OC33 and GS-OC34 system was developed for use at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, and has been used regularly at major world sporting events since then.
Glensound ISDN codecs were used for the studio links of the commentary audio back to the respective broadcaster, with GSGC9 ISDN codecs in use to offer each broadcaster two channels for the studio links, along with a selection of GS-GC6 ISDN codecs.
The radio commentary section used Glensound reporters units, with a selection of GSGC5s, GS-GC25s, and GC8s in evidence.
G-Whiz still uses an original GS-DK21 master output unit – a veteran in use around 30 years. This is used for line testing and monitoring. Glensound also has a 6×6 talkback matrix, GS-TBMM001. G-Whiz used this for the reporters positions that were commentating live into the main commentary positions, and this was the first time this facility had been offered on this type of event.
Glensound Design Engineer Chris Hill was in attendance at the final, and was glad that he had nothing to do. “All the Glensound systems were performing as they should, without any fuss, so I was able to sit back and enjoy the game.”