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Commonwealth Games plan

Philip Stevens talks to the Host Broadcaster about coverage plans – and the impressive training programme that will discover new talent.

In December 2011, the Host Broadcaster contract for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games was awarded to a joint bid from UK independent television sports production company Sunset+Vine (S+V) and the Australian outsourced television production services company, Global Television. The upcoming Games will encompass 26 sporting disciplines in 19 venues in and around the Glasgow area. SVGTV, as the new collaboration is known, is also responsible for coverage of the Opening and Closing ceremonies. In addition, 22 Para Sport medal events will take place – more than any previous Commonwealth Games.
London-based S+V has considerable experience in the production of high profile sports programming including Test Cricket, Premier League and Europa League football, horse racing and The Volvo Ocean Race. In 2013, the company was awarded a BAFTA for ‘Best Sport and Live Event’ for its groundbreaking coverage of The London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Glasgow 2014 will be Global Television’s third consecutive Commonwealth Games. The Australian-based company produces more than 2000 hours of television each year including live sport and entertainment, as well the celebrated Australian soap, Neighbours. Global provided the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) technical build for Melbourne 2006 and the design, installation and operation of the IBC for Delhi 2010.

“The collaboration brings together two highly-respected independent television production companies who, in their first joint venture as SVGTV, will capture the excitement and thrills of the Games for a potential worldwide audience of more than one billion,” states Jeff Foulser, Sunset+Vine’s chairman. “Sunset+Vine is in charge of production, filming, camera placement, direction, lighting and so on. Global is responsible for the build and running of the IBC and making sure that the technology is in place to get this feed from the venues to the broadcasters around the world.” As Host Broadcaster, SVGTV is also responsible for the delivery of radio programming for the Rights Holders.

Enormous project
“This is, of course, a massive outside broadcast undertaking – but the size is something we are well used to handling,” states Foulser. “At the moment, we are anticipating that somewhere in the region of 280 cameras will be required across the various venues. They will be controlled by the 25 OB units needed to deliver the needs of Glasgow 2014. Working alongside around 1100 UK-based staff, will be many more professionals from the 71 Commonwealth countries involved with the event.”

He reports that NEP Visions will provide the largest by volume of the OB units, with Telegenic and CTV Group being joint-second in terms of contribution, with Arena handling squash and table tennis at a combined venue. Aerial Camera Systems will be providing the speciality cameras. One venue where a number of specialist cameras will be deployed is the International Swimming Centre at Tollcross. Here a combination of overhead, track mounted poolside cameras and underwater units will complement the ‘conventional’ coverage.

Every Rights Holder Broadcaster (RHB) will be given stand-up positions at each venue. Although there will be no clean programme feeds, RHBs will have access to Host Broadcaster camera splits at the venue.

“Our plans allow RHBs to use ISO feeds at each venue. Alongside that, there is access to the Host Broadcaster archive at the IBC, multi channel service and Games Channel. This archive and storage solution will be provided by EVS equipment,” says Foulser. Games graphics will be supplied by Swiss Timing.

IBC inventory
Within the IBC, which will be located at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, SVGTV’s Master Control Room will handle 32 main and 30 standby feeds. Design of the IBC allows some RHBs to operate studios inside of their own allotted space. In addition, the RHBs will be able to book both off tube booths and edit suites at the IBC.

At present, there are no requirements for 3D or 4K transmissions from the Games. The IBC will have a web streaming capacity, but the current plan is for requirements to be delivered on a country by country basis by RHBs.

Comprehensive training
In addition to the coverage of the various events, SVGTV will be collaborating with a number of universities and colleges to create an education and training programme to provide a variety of live broadcast, creative and technology skills.

“The Host Broadcaster Training Initiative (HBTI) is a key legacy project of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games,” emphasises Foulser. “More than 600 Scottish-based creative sector students will receive training and work experience through the HBTI, which is being delivered by SVGTV in partnership with the Creative Loop Media Academy.”

The HBTI is receiving substantial investment in equipment and expertise from SVGTV and their suppliers, with financial support from the Scottish Funding Council, Skills Development Scotland and Creative Skillset.

“The HBTI will see participating students given real skills training in how to use the latest Outside Broadcast hardware equipment and technology, as well as real work experience in live broadcast creative production. The intention is that these students will reach sufficient proficiency through their pre-Games education to be deployed during the Games itself, providing an invaluable skills legacy for the broadcast and television production industry in Scotland beyond Glasgow 2014.”

Foulser says that the programme is already up and running very successfully. “We are now expecting around 200 students – the initial target was 120 – to be selected to receive real work experience working on the broadcasting requirements of the Games itself.”

Long-term legacy
That positive side of the training programme has been echoed by David Grevemberg, Glasgow 2014 chief executive. “Sunset Vine and Global TV will showcase the twentieth Commonwealth Games to the world. In doing so, they will implement a training initiative that not only delivers great coverage of the Games, but makes an investment in Scotland’s media industry by creating opportunities for hundreds of students who will gain valuable skills and experience at a vital time in the beginning of their careers. Its positive impact promises to be felt for many years to come.”

Foulser concludes, “SVGTV will be drawing on our considerable joint experiences to bring viewers and listeners the very best coverage of these exciting games. We will meet the requirement to produce a high quality level of production that matches – and exceeds – anything that’s gone before.”