World Cup kit suppliers revealed

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Despite FIFA's efforts to prevent technology vendors from associating themselves with this summer's World Cup, we can unmask the main suppliers, reports Adrian Pennington.

Host Broadcasting Services (HBS), the production team tasked with delivering the live production of all 64 matches, has contracted Grass Valley to provide the technical infrastructure for the tournament.

In turn Grass Valley has outsourced the supply and build of Technical Operation Centres (TOCs) at each of the ten venues in South Africa to Gearhouse Broadcast. Each TOC is outfitted with ProBel routers, Tektronix waveform monitors, Evertz VIP multiview monitors, and Harris 3Gbps glue products.

The TOCs route the host feeds from the stadia to on-site unilateral broadcasters and onto the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Johannesburg. The feeds themselves are managed within ten official matchday outside broadcast facilities. These are also built to an identical HBS-specifed design. Four such facilities are being provided by Belgium firm Alfacam, two by the UK's CTV, one each from MediaPro in Spain and VCF, part of the French Euro Media Group, and two from Germany's Studio Berlin.

Each outside broadcaster is currently building the entire set-up and testing equipment at their domestic HQs prior to shipping and reassembly on-site.

As with Germany 2006, Grass Valley is also the main OB kit provider for the ten OBs, notably for all in-stadia cameras. Each match will be covered with 23 LDK6000/8000 Worldcam and six LDK 8300 Super Slomos supplemented with two ultra hi-speed cameras from ARRI Media among other suppliers, plus seven specialist goal mouth and aerial cameras.

Each facility is equipped with Reidel Communications intercom systems and Lawo audio consoles. Six of the facilities are equipped with a total of 400 Axon Synapse signal processing panels capable of generating 1500 SynView multiview channels.

Grass Valley is also supplying one 4M/E Kayenne XL HD production switcher and three KayakHD switchers per venue for the host broadcast and some 1200 modular cards for signal processing within the IBC.

For the first time HBS is shadowing every team with an ENG crew equipped with Panasonic P2 cameras and Apple FCP editing gear.

LA-based 3D specialist Element Technica is further understood to be in pole position to supply its rigs for HBS' 3D production. Officially the ambition to produce 25 games in 3D remains on track although sources indicate that the number is under with review with suggestions of 20, 16 or as few as five matches mooted.

ESPN America has announced its plans to take this feed to coincide with the premiere of its 3DTV channel launch.

At the heart of the enterprise is Belgium server manufacturer EVS. Housed in the IBC, the central FIFA Max Media Server is an integrated cluster of 15 EVS XT2 production servers which will manage the ingest and exchange of all content produced by HBS. An additional nine servers will be used for various production functions within the IBC and a further 20 XT[2]s have been provided for every broadcaster to outgest the FIFA Max.

Each OB will house 12 additional XT2s. A whopping 3500 hours of HD content will end up stored on the Media Server and 18 Xstore storage units.

Production costs for 2010 will be more than the £75m of 2006 but slightly less than the £90m of Japan /Korea 2002.