The iconic BT Tower in London is the hub for sports broadcasting in the UK handling the feeds for racing, football, rugby and most sporting events for Sky, BBC, ESPN and the racing channels, writes Adrian Pennington.
Arguably the BT Tower Production Centre’s most prestigious contract is the capture and management of the action from all Football League football matches across the Championship, League One and Two, which is critical to the success of BBC 1’s The Football League Show every Saturday evening during the season.
BT sends camera-ops to record the action from each ground, the tapes from which are then taken to regional centres for a quick rough cut of the main action into highlights packages. These are then played down to the BT Tower at predefined timeslots between 18:30 and 20:30 for distribution to all the FL rights holders and partners.
As this ‘Goals Exchange’ progresses a team of expert loggers tag the video feeds with key data to identify the action using EVS IPDirector. These vital logs are shared live with IMG, BT’s production partner.
BT’s post-production team then gets to work producing the Championship element of The Football League Show for BBC One to air that evening after Match of the Day. Browsing the logs, BT’s producers mark appropriate in and out points, and create new clips with relevant names. This also automatically triggers a rapid transfer of the clip (with handles) from the EVS server to an Avid 64TB ISIS which is managed by Interplay.
“As soon as a producer or editor opens Avid Interplay they can see clips for each match and begin to tighten them further in Media Composer,” explained Andy Beale, BT’s Head of Engineering. “The clips are then passed to another Media Composer, which is accessing the same media, to adjust audio, drop in graphics and comp into a package.”
The crucial next stage is the addition of a voiceover commentary, finished within Media Composer’s audio correction tools. “When the executive producer overseeing the VOs is happy, the editor then uses the ‘Send to Playback’ feature to transfer the finished package back to the EVS server for the EVS ops to play into the studio.”
BT’s job is far from over. Upon completion of the BBC show the team of editors and production staff work late into the night to create an international version of the highlights show for the Football League. This requires a separate Media Composer edit, including different graphics and an audio treatment in Pro Tools.
Finally – and it’s always a very busy night – an overnight team goes back to the original media on ISIS and re-cuts every game for www.bbc.co.uk/sport.
BT is on year two of a three-year contract with the BBC. “Last year we created 1,830 web edits including highlights of every Football League match, weekly League roundups and an ‘All Goals’ package in a 90 seconds sequence,” said Beale.
“We have to be top of our game. The video needs to be here, now, and the importance of the resilience of the kit can’t be overstated. We can’t afford to lose anything. Secondly this is a rapid turnaround operation so we need tools, wedded to a workflow, which works fast, seamlessly and all of the time. Within that, speedy access to media is essential.”