Digitalising media production while enhancing flexibility

Directing the vertical video production at SportsInnovation 2022.
Photo: Sportcast GmbH

14 June 2022 – Two new development steps are taking digitalisation and flexibilisation in media production to the next level: Cloud-based production and remote operation of cameras. The DFL subsidiary Sportcast is expanding its expertise in both fields; during SportsInnovation 2022, it presented examples in live application, also in connection with a vertical video production.

Cloud-based 9:16 production

What may sound like a simple feat at first is in fact a complex technical challenge: Creating the vertical image format optimised for smartphones requires a separate production infrastructure. Specialised or modified stadium cameras, a unique production workflow and a distribution channel specifically for the 9:16 signal – it takes state-of-the-art technology to make it happen.

Following the successful trial during the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and SV Werder Bremen in early December 2019 with five dedicated cameras, the 2021 Supercup marked the first occasion where an entire game was broadcast in the mobile-optimised 9:16 format on the entertainment platform TikTok. As many as nine vertical cameras were involved. The next opportunity for DFL and its subsidiary Sportcast to demonstrate their 9:16 expertise followed at SportsInnovation 2022.

During SportsInnovation 2022, a proprietary camera setup for production in 9:16 format was demonstrated.
Photo DFL/Getty Images/Alexander Scheuber

The next step: Cloud-based remote production

But this was more than just a repeat: Sportcast took yet another step towards digitalisation by showcasing cloud-based remote production for the 9:16 format for the first time. The signals from the individual cameras were transmitted to the cloud site in Munich via the Internet, while the production, slomo editing and graphics PC workstations were located at the stadium. The team used the cloud production system “Bravo” and the slow-motion replay system by the company Evertz. In addition, Evertz provided their interactive graphics engine “Ease Live” for data-based, fully automated game graphics with a fully automated Radarview production option. Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosted the cloud. The company Media Broadcast set up the 5G campus network which was used for on-site camera control and signal transmission. From the beginning, the project aimed to streamline the entire production value chain by optimising resource utilisation and establishing efficient workflows.

While four wired TV cameras equipped with vertical adaptors sent their signals to the company TVN’s outside broadcasting van, the video streams from a camcorder and a smartphone fitted with a special adaptor were transmitted to the cloud wirelessly using the stadium 5G network. This meant that the transmission of the smartphone-optimised signal was independent from the outside broadcasting van.

Remote-controlled base signal cameras

In addition, during the innovation games a camera from the ‘standard’ base-signal camera concept was remote-controlled live for the first time. Within the context of the “Broadcast & Content” topic, the “Reverse right-hand mid-height” camera position, fitted with a remote head, was operated from far away using a joystick.

Remote camera in use at SportsInnovation 2022.
Photo: DFL/Getty Images/Alexander Scheuber

For this purpose an outside broadcasting van provided by TVN, a Sportcast affiliate, with two remote workstations had been positioned in Hannover, where the company is located. From there, the control of the camera at the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA in Düsseldorf, the slow-motion integration by the slomo operator and the entire communication between Hanover and Düsseldorf were all handled remotely. All signals were transmitted through the fibreoptic network operated jointly by Sportcast and the company VIDI, which is routinely used for Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches, ensuring superior image quality, stability and latency.

Workstations for the control of the remote camera at the company TVN in Hanover.
Photo: Sportcast GmbH