Capturing F1 audio

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The 2013 Formula One Grand Prix season has seen Sky raise the stakes on its HD TV coverage – the broadcaster has introduced “mosaic’ viewing – a choice of nine video options and features that are under the viewer’s control. Sky has also extended viewing to PCs, tablets and smart phones.

Part of this ambitious push was the appointment of Italian broadcast and satellite transmission specialist Videe as main broadcast contractor for Sky Italia, to handle coverage of the entire 2013-2015 seasons’ races.

Videe’s F1 involvement began with a tender document issued by Sky Italia, detailing the equipment requirements and requiring costing.

“This cutting edge project, planned and tested with Sky Italia management – particular thanks here to Riccardo Botta and Tiziano Mantovani – is special because we need to keep weight and volume as low as possible for international shipping – more weight equals greater cost,’ says Bruno Mercuri, Videe’s CEO and founder. “The system needs to operate around the world in different locations and situations, including some of the world’s most demanding broadcast environments.’

To deal with the extreme temperatures of some circuits, Videe requested four air conditioning units for the MCR to keep the air temperature down, and its robust selection of equipment ensured that there were no technical dramas. For the audio, this included a 32-fader Lawo mc²56 MkII 16-16C-0 mixing console, equipped with three DSP boards, giving 144 DSP audio channels. On the video side, Videe entered the race with a Lawo V__pro8 video processing device, providing all the tools needed for live broadcast production. This 1RU unit offers frame synchronisation, format conversion, colour correction, audio de-/embedding and metering, among other functions. All signals can be combined through its internal 8×8 video and 384×384 audio routers.

Mercuri explains: “We started to work on the F1 project in September 2012 when we first received the relevant bid information from Sky. As we won the bid during the last days of November 2012 we had a very short time to complete the integration. That system is now working around the world to produce the images for Sky Italia.

“There is one control room, the MCR, to receive the main signals from FOM (Formula One Management Limited) to integrate with signals from our cameras, EVS/Avid and graphics video systems, and to send it via EBU fiber-optic link to Sky Italia headquarters.’

For its audio, Videe headed straight back to Lawo. The mc²56 MkII uses Virtual Studio Manager (VSM) from L-S-B Broadcast Technology’s as its super-ordinate control system. It is also accompanied by a Lawo V__pro8 Video Processor for embedding and de-embedding the 5-1-channel surround audio in the video stream.

Weighing in at 2,500kg and requiring just a few hours to configure, the flyaway system provides Sky Italia with the MCR for all of its live F1 coverage – 95% of the broadcast content is created live, from the Grand Prix venue.

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