New era for host broadcast at Vancouver

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Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), the host broadcaster created by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001, is marking the beginning of a new era. The Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver are the first Olympics where the host broadcast is solely an OBS operation.

OBS' unified effort allows for significant innovation and advancement in the broadcast of the Games. In Vancouver, this will be evident in a number of important landmarks. It will be the first Olympic Winter Games to receive truly global coverage and will also be the first available in High Definition with 5. 1 audio. "The Vancouver Games are the fulfilment of the IOC's call to create greater continuity in producing the Games, " said Manolo Romero, managing director, OBS. "We are also responsible for improving methods, developing innovative new services and creating efficiencies that benefit rights holders. Since the [2008] Beijing Games, we have been engaged in a comprehensive effort to advance the art of the Olympic broadcast. The Vancouver Games will set new benchmarks for improving the rights holding broadcasters' ability to communicate the Olympics to their audiences. "Romero noted numerous innovations and advances for the Olympic Winter Games. An important first is worldwide coverage of the Games enabled by the Olympic News Channel, a headline and highlights service. "Previously, the Olympic Winter Games were only available in certain regions–mostly Europe, North America and other places where winter sports are predominant. Now, the Olympic News Channel and Multichannel Project provide remote access so that our broadcasters who cannot come to Vancouver can still offer the Games to their audiences, " Romero said. Innovations and advances for VancouverThe host broadcast for Vancouver will feature many technical breakthroughs. These include:• First Olympic Winter Games with end–to–end High Definition/5. 1 audio coverage. • Olympic News Channel (ONC), a 24/7–headline news and information service. • Olympic Data Feed (ODF), a metadata information service to aid broadcaster customisation of content• 'Fingerprinting' content identification system for Olympic material• Multichannel Project delivering multilateral and unilateral feeds for Latin America/Asia/Pacific broadcasters• Unilateral Venue Server, a new technical facility providing access to feeds from OBS' OB vans at select locations• Enhanced New Media Services, including a mobile phone feed• Virtual Enhancements to provide insights for competitionsThe OBS innovations often utilise novel strategies to advance traditional solutions. According to Sotiris Salamouris, head of engineering & technical operations, OBS, the choice of mobile production vendors shows a commitment to advancing the art of Olympic coverage. The finest High Definition OB vans from the North American fleet including units from Game Creek, F&F, Dome Productions, Mira Mobile and Corplex will be working side–by–side with their European counterparts Alfacam and SBP. Altogether, more than 24 High Definition mobile production units will be deployed throughout the Games. "The North American and European vendors utilise much the same technology but take very different approaches with it. By having them work together, we step outside our experience to learn from each other. Aside from what this brings to Vancouver, it also will inform decisions ahead about how best to produce the London Games in 2012, " Salamouris said. The infrastructure for the Olympic News Channel, too, reflects OBS' commitment to innovation. "There are many excellent, established technical solutions we might have deployed for building this round–the–clock headline news feed, " said Salamouris. "Instead, we considered the concept fresh. Working closely with EVS and Panasonic, we have been able to develop significant workflow advances. "

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