Match TV masters Winter Universiade host services and national production with EVS
Match TV is a Russian free-to-air sports television channel that promotes healthy lifestyles. It offers its viewers unprecedented access to major sporting events including the Olympic Games, as well as various World and European Championships.
In March 2019 it served as the host broadcaster for the XXIX Winter Universiade 2019 in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. The Universiade is an international multi-sport event – described as the youth version of the Olympics – that is organized for student athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).
With considerable international media attention on the Winter Universiade in northern Russia, Match TV was keen to showcase its ability to deliver programming of the highest quality at a challenging multi-sport event. Therefore, it required a cutting-edge production workflow that could make this ambition a reality. Maximizing the flexibility and efficiency of the production was key, with Match TV keen to virtualize backend resources, enable remote operations and collaborative workflows as well as integrate in-house solutions.
At the heart of this workflow, Match TV wanted EVS’ XT-VIA production servers, clustered using the brand new XNet-VIA live media sharing network, in what would be the first deployment of its kind. The production team selected the new EVS technology as it was the best fit for this project, and despite it being recently released, they were confident that it could be relied on in mission critical situations right away.
It wasn’t just the ambition of the production that would be a challenge. An extremely tight deployment schedule, the remote location of Krasnoyarsk (the city is situated over 4100 km east of Moscow) and its harsh winter climate where temperatures drop to -42°C, would also need to be overcome.
In what was XNet-VIA’s first ever deployment of such scale, eight EVS XT-VIA servers were interconnected using the ethernet-based live media sharing network within the event’s International Broadcasting Center (IBC). The bidirectional 10GigE network that’s easily configured and deployed through EVS’ new XHub-VIA network switch, would facilitate the ultra-fast sharing of content between servers by giving operators greater bandwidth than offered by EVS’ legacy SDTI-based network.
Spread across 11 outside broadcast trucks located at the Universiade’s various venues was a range of additional EVS technology including 49 XT3 live production servers, 9 XFile3 systems to back up, stream and restore media files in any format, 9 XTAccess media transfer engines and six IPDirector content management suites.
As is becoming increasingly popular because of the greater flexibility and agility offered, all of EVS’ backend resources would be virtualized for the project. This removed the need for dedicated hardware, as the EVS applications for IPDirector, the live PAM database, IP MOS, IPWeb and XTAccess were run on virtual machines. This approach would save a significant amount of valuable rack space, reduce the shipping costs associated with getting kit out to Krasnoyarsk, and result in an increased level of redundancy.
Match TV would have crews situated at each venue and in the IBC, then also back in Moscow at the Gazprom-Media broadcast center and the studio at the city’s Ostankino Technical Center. It wanted to empower them with the most collaborative production workflows possible, and one that would function in a similar way to a news production infrastructure. The IPWeb tool, which was powered by virtualizing the supporting hardware, and the successful integration between IPLogger and Match TV’s FileCatalyst file transfer solution would allow the various stakeholders to log and browse content remotely. Crews within the OB trucks at the venues would be able to push and pull content to and from the IBC using EVS’ XFile3 system. And as well as generating slow motion replays for the live production, the on-site LSM operators would be able to create on the fly clips for contribution that they could push to the IBC via a single button or command.
An additional benefit to Match TV would be the integration of EVS technology to its own ingest scheduling tool as well as third-party solutions. This included full newsroom computer system (NRCS) integration with Octopus Newsroom for AB-Roll playout and IPLink for Adobe, which gives Premiere Pro editors instant access to EVS near line content for faster turnaround and better storytelling. With this integration, detailed logs that are created remotely appear in the editor’s timeline while the material is still being ingested and rough cuts created with EVS tools can be converted to a sequence with just one click.
EVS would also provide extensive support during the build-up to the event and on-site, once the Winter Universiade was under way.
Signature performance: Match TV’s confidence in EVS technology and desire to be the first to deploy the XT-VIA with the new XNet-VIA was ultimately rewarded with a pristine production which delighted its viewers and the unilateral broadcasters using its feed to cover the event.
Smarter infrastructures: The virtualization of EVS backend tools provided Match TV with a more flexible, agile and robust approach to its live video production, that brought about significant cost and space savings.
Increased collaboration: EVS tools including the new XNet-VIA network, along with IPWeb, XFile3 and remote logging enabled the greater collaboration between production and news teams working at the IBC, venues and back in Moscow.
Third-party integration: EVS’ technology seamlessly integrated with third-party systems including Octopus Newsroom, Adobe Premiere Pro and Match TV’s own in-house tools.
Ongoing support: EVS worked closely with Match TV to ensure its solutions would be ready to deploy within the planned workflow as soon as they arrived on site and remained fully operational throughout the event.
With barely any time to test ahead of deployment, XNet-VIA was used to share clips and recorded media between the eight XT-VIA servers, enabling production teams to execute at a higher speed than ever before. In total, they were able to ingest 22 feeds simultaneously, all of which were recorded for archive purposes in 1080i using the AVC-Intra Codec. EVS’ unique loop recording technology within the XT-VIA servers meant that operators had immediate access to content captured from the previous day, which proved extremely useful for Match TV’s news and studio production teams. And with the new H.264 onboard proxy that uses the MJPEG and MPEG-DASH standards for new workflow evolutions, they could also simultaneously record content in high and low resolution. This helped editors to browse and quickly create playlists using IPDirector and journalists cover breaking news from the Winter Universiade.
By virtualizing all its EVS backend resources, Match TV could increase its overall production flexibility. The remote and collaborative workflow designed for the project meant that operators at the venues, the 12-strong rotations of loggers located in Moscow and crews in Ostankino, as well as FISU teams stationed within the IBC could all access content such as profiles, archive material and super slow motion clips when needed.
Since the loggers were able to log content and create rough cuts remotely from Moscow, four time-zones to the west, Match TV didn’t need so many people working in the event’s IBC, so could make further travel and accommodation savings. The detailed metadata added to content by the loggers meant that Match TV’s in-house journalists and news producers were able to create their own stories independently, and up to four times faster than it would normally take.
And thanks to EVS’ third-party integration, NRCS users could synchronize rundowns with IPDirector playlists, while editors could start working on files that were still being recorded for faster turnaround and better storytelling.
As host broadcaster, Match TV used the games as an opportunity to showcase itself on the world stage, delivering the most comprehensive coverage both to its home audience in Russia, and those watching the global feed it was producing for the unilateral broadcasters covering the action. It challenged itself to do more, understanding that it would need to embrace the latest production technology to achieve its ambitious goals. This involved having to deploy an untested workflow for an application where failure was not an option, so it turned to a partner it knew it could rely on. With EVS’ help, Match TV was able to successfully deliver host services and the national production in the highest quality, while also gaining invaluable real-world knowledge of what the new technology was capable of, while benefitting from the greater flexibility and production efficiencies it presented.