Finland's YLE has devised a clever solution to the problem of escalating travel and accommodation costs for the 2010 Winter Games using Lawo's integrated technologies.
YLE has devised an original production network for the collection and distribution of reportage for the Finnish audience that requires fewer personnel on site in Vancouver, yet does not compromise either quality or creativity.
In a joint venture with SVT, Sweden's national broadcaster, YLE's main production concept is to gather every commentary and intercom signal in Vancouver and Whistler and route them to Helsinki, where they will be distributed to YLE production units for mixing. Close collaboration between YLE, Lawo's hardware engineers and DSA Volgmann, Lawo's R&D partner, has delivered a system for realtime audio routing and simultaneous scheduling, remote control and monitoring of all matrices which will work across half the world.
Matti Helkamaa, senior technical advisor for YLE, explained: "For budget reasons, we decided to send only the commentators and reporters, and a small technical core, to the actual Olympics site. Instead, we are using our own Studio 25 in Helsinki, which is equipped with a Lawo Nova73 HD Matrix and mc_66 digital console, as the main production unit for our broadcasting. For HD production, we will use the resources in our HD-1 OB.
"Commentary and intercom signals will be gathered in two location facilities in Whistler and Vancouver, equipped with Lawo zirkon and crystal consoles and Nova 73HD Matrices, and supplemented by SVT's two Lawo mc_66 digital desks. From there, signals will be scheduled with DSA Line Scheduler systems and routed to and from Helsinki via the EBU FINE Network's Nimbra AES Service. In Whistler, Vancouver and Helsinki, commentary audios in two languages will be inserted in the Nova 73 HD's cards to the correct SDI signal's audio channel for the EVS Farm, which operates on an SDI basis only. The return audios from the production units will be collected to Nova Matrix in Helsinki and distributed via two matrices in Canada to venue."
YLE's criterion is for production qualities to be the same as if everyone were actually stationed at the Winter Olympics venues. Originally the transfers between Whistler-Vancouver and Vancouver-Helsinki were going to be over IP, but this is now mainly for backup and intercom services. Instead, PGM audios will be transferred between the venues via EBU's FINE/Nimbra network in AES format.
YLE's Helkamaa commented: "One of the tasks I feel is only possible with Lawo equipment is the extensive realtime routing and scheduling of the audio signals, so that, whilst the switching will take place remotely in Canada, the main mixing will be done in two units in Finland. The production will be transmitted on two TV channels and there will be an HD programme as well."
This production model should certainly appeal to broadcasters and producers who are feeling the financial pinch of sending full technical teams all over the globe to gather and produce high-end programming. The unique integration of Lawo technologies is key to keeping on-site budgets down whilst sustaining YLE's ability to deliver quality output for their broadcasts.
With the Winter Olympics imminent, Helkamaa summed up: "The network testing has just been successfully completed at DSA Volgmann in Cologne, simulating the WAN and the MTX remote control. We are already fully convinced that this dispersed model will work beautifully and set a benchmark for those broadcast companies that wish to reduce their on-site production costs."