Rio Olympics TV Technologies

I wrote a posting on TV broadcasting in Rio Olympics. This posting continues the same theme giving more technical details and links to where to see what the TV broadcasting technology looks at 2016 Summer Olympics. This blog article is a ombination of information from very many articles that tell on TV broadcasting at Rio Olympics. Having some experience on doing technology part in few live TV broadcasting some years ago, I was interested what kind of technology is used in this kind of huge TV broadcasting system. Over 5 billion people will watch the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from home on their TVs and internet devices.

Technical innovations and higher resolutions

Brave new world: Rio 2016 Games to showcase technological innovations article gives a quick look at some of the innovations making their debut in Brazil this August. Most of the innovations are for getting more accurate results from sports, but the article also mentions virtual reality, wearables and green technology. Technology at the Rio Olympics article picks Payments, Next generation streaming services and Monetization of sports data as most important. Rio 2016 – Digital Transformation for the Olympic Games video gives an overview to Technology Operations Center (TOC). 


OBS Embraces Emerging Broadcast Technologies for the Rio Games article tells that the Rio 2016 Games, OBS will ultimately produce in High Definition and 5.1 Surround Sound more than 7,000 hours of coverage which will include live sport; the Opening and Closing Ceremonies; the Olympic News Channel; beauty cameras and other additional production material. The RHBs will bring these images to a potential TV audience of almost five billion people across more than 220 territories around the world. OBS broadcast coverage will be produced in 1080iHD. OBS will be working with Japanese RHB NHK to provide Broadcasters with live coverage of select Olympic events in 8K Super High Vision(7,680 x 4,320 pixels) (part of the UHD-2 standards) with 3-D 22.2 multichannel audio surround system. OBS will also provide coverage in 4K (part of the UHD-1 standards) of the same events which will be down-converted from the original 8K SHV. In addition to different resolutions, there are different frame rates used in USA and Europe. Frame rate conversions are needed by any content broadcaster or distributor dealing with international program feeds where content arrives at a different frame rate than that required for transmission or distribution to end users

Frame rate conversions are needed by any content broadcaster or distributor dealing with international program feeds where content arrives at a different frame rate than that required for transmission or distribution to end users. – See more at:


Rio 2016 Olympics Broadcasts: From 8K to VR to an iPhone article tells How and Where the Summer Games Are Being Streamed and Televised. Japanese public broadcaster NHK has already begun 4K and 8K UHD test broadcasts over its satellite channels.  U.S. residents will have to make do with a 4K downconversion from the 8K footage captured by NHK and Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS). NBC is offering at least one event per day in 4K UHD, distributing the footage to TV providers. NBC’s HDTV coverage will use broadcast equipment from Sony and Canon, including Sony’s HDC-4300 4K high-frame-rate camera system for HD replays, its PWS-4500 XAVC server, and its BVM-X300 OLED monitors. The glass is 2/3-inch 4K broadcast lenses from Canon.

2016 Rio Olympics will come in 4K after all: NBC to air the Games in UHD with HDR and Atmos sound article tells thatroadcaster will make content from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro available to carriers in not just 4K resolution but also with high dynamic range and Dolby Atmos sound.NBC is making 4K UHD HDR footage of the 2016 Games available via a 24 hour tape delay.These 4K replay sportscasts will be coming in 4K resolution thanks to NBC’s downscaling of native live 8K resolution recording footagebeing made of the 2016 Games by the Japanese state broadcaster NHK for the sake of the latter company’s continuing experimentation in live 8K public broadcasting in the time remaining before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.

Many different camera technologies

OBS Embraces Emerging Broadcast Technologies for the Rio Games  article tells that the Host Broadcaster for the Olympic Games, Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) produces and distributes in many different resolutions. OBS will ultimately produce in High Definition and 5.1 Surround Sound more than 7,000 hours. In addition to that 8K Super High Vision and 4K are used. OBS will provide approximately 130 hours of live 8K SHV (7,680 x 4,320 pixels) coverage working with Japanese RHB NHK. OBS will also provide coverage in 4K (part of the UHD-1 standards: 3,840 x 2,160 pixel resolution) of the same events which will be down-converted from the original 8K SHV.

NBC Olympics Embraces HDR for Opening Ceremony Coverage article tells that Opening Ceremony is  produced with 4K coverage in HDR with the help of a small six-camera flypack outfitted with Sony HDC-4300 cameras. That feed will be sent to the IBC via four 3-Gbps circuits operating in quad-link mode and then voiced-over at NBC’s production area in the IBC. The HDR feed will be shot in Sony’s sLog3 format, complete with BT.2020 color space and grading for 1,000 nits. The sLog3-2020 signal will be converted to ST2084-2020 with static metadata (commonly known as HDR10) and fed into HEVC encoders for transmission to the U.S.

To handle all the cameras, very many OB vans were needed. OB Vans Arrive in Rio article tells that there are 52 OB vans, 12 flyaway systems, seven independent audio production units and 31 support vans. This makes a total fleet of 83 vehicles and 19 production kits. Rio 2016 Olympics Broadcasts: From 8K to VR to an iPhone article tells that The World’s First 8K OB Vehicle Is in Rio. Ikegami is providing what it says is the world’s first 8K OB vehicle, which it delivered last fall, outfitted with 8K field cameras and supporting gear.


Vehicle size 2,495(W) x 3,330(H) x 11,930(D) (mm)
(1,000mm (W) expandable when operating)
Switcher 16 inputs 4 outputs 1 M/E
Router 8K, 4K and HD/2K
Downstream Keyer 8K (four supers)
Camera 8K camera (Ikegami’s SHV-8000, SHK-810 etc./max 10 units)
Recorder 8K recorder (max four units)
Slow Player 8K slow player (max four units)
Sound Router MADI support
Monitor for Switcher Main: 55-inch 8K monitor
Sub: 55-inch with multiviewer
Monitor for VE 32-inch monitor and others

Several virtual reality camera system are in use. OBS to Provide Virtual Reality Experience of the Rio 2016 Games article tells that OBS will also cover Rio 2016 Olympic Games through the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. OBS Embraces Emerging Broadcast Technologies for the Rio Games article tells that for the first time in the Olympic Games broadcasting history, viewers from around the world will be able to enjoy the excitement of the Games in high-definition Virtual Reality (VR), providing a truly unique viewing experience (in both live and video on demand). In total, OBS will produce more than 85 hours of live VR content and 360-degree video.. It enables viewers to see athletes perform from one of the best possible vantage points, but it is not to treat VR production like a traditional 2D broadcast. To get some idea on 360 degree video, check out  Watch: 360 video from favela before the Rio 2016 opening ceremony page that shows a Sports Illustrated produced a 360 video from the rooftop, giving a first-hand look at photographer preparations for the opening ceremony.

How the moving cameras get good picture when cameraman moves with them? Finnish magazine Tekniikan Maailma article Rion olympialaisia kuvataan yhä 70-luvun tv-tekniikalla tells that they use Steadicams. You might expect that camera stabilization represent state of the art electronics, but in reality it is a matter of pure mechanics of the 1970s - based on the hugely perfect balancing. Wikipedia says that Steadicam is a brand of camera stabilizer mount for motion picture cameras that mechanically isolates it from the operator’s movement. It allows for a smooth shot, even when moving quickly over an uneven surface. The Steadicam was invented by cameraman Garrett Brown and introduced in 1975.

The Rio Olympics will have some of the smartest sports cameras ever article tells that Getty Images, one of the largest wire services, and the official photo agency of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), will be using brand-new robotic technology developed by Mark Roberts Motion Control to extend the reach of their photographers at multiple venues for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Pros routinely wire cameras to arena rafters, the sidelines of playing fields and even underwater to cover as many angles of sporting events as possible.

Robot cameras snap splash shots in Rio article tells how a Getty photographer uses robotic cameras to get spectacular underwater images of swimmers at this year’s Summer Olympic Games.Getty photographers have used robotic cameras for years, typically to take shots from overhead and static cameras underwater, but now the underwater cameras can be remote controlled to different directions. The robotic camerasequipped with a Canon 1DX Mark II camera are attached to the floor of the pool using suction cups and operated from poolside using a remote control that resembles an Xbox video game controller. The photographers need to be are scuba trained.

Canon is heavily involved with digital cameras – they provide cameras and support for photo journalist. A very rare look inside Canon’s operations at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games tells that there is a Canon Professional Services to borrow equipment from them and gives view to CANON’S $6,000,000 STOCKPILE OF CAMERA GEAR FOR THE RIO OLYMPICS.

Cameras and camera links in the air

Blimp-Mounted Cameras Will Watch Everything That Happens At The Rio Olympics article tells that security personnel tasked with making sure athletes, attendees, and civilians are all safe during the event, that’s a sky-high task, so it helps that Brazil is going to have an all-seeing camera on a blimp record everything happening within an area of 15 square miles. The system is technically an aerostat, not a blimp, which means the inflatable sack of helium carrying the cameras is attached to a tether. That tether keeps it in one place, putting the “stationary” in “aerostat,”

The broadcasting system has used several cable cameras to get nic shots from the air. The was an unfortunate accident to one of them as 100kg ‘spidercam’ crashes into crowd in Rio Olympic Park, injures 7. Live From Rio 2016: Cable Camera Falls, Injures Seven; Investigation Ongoing article says that an aerial cable camera system operated by Olympic Broadcasting Services flying over the Barra Olympic Park fell to the ground near the entrance to Arena Carioca 2, causing minor injuries to seven spectators. At that time, according to the statement, the camera was 10 meters above the concourse and was supported by the two independent guide ropes, each of which able to support the full load of the camera, but both of them failed causing the camera to fall approximately 20 meters onto the lower concourse near the arena. The accident is documented in Overhead TV camera falls in Rio Olympic park, injures three video.

There are many events where there is need to have live picture from “on the road.” Wireless cameras play a big role in that. Live From Rio 2016: Road Races Rely on Next-Gen RF Technology article tells that to cover 241/137 km long cycling events at the 2016 Rio Olympics needed latest wireless camera technology. RF technology played a key role in covering the action as five motorbikes carried handheld-camera operators, two helicopters with RF cameras provided overhead shots, and two automobiles were also used – also hard cameras, handheld cameras, Steadicam units and crane cameras. The RF technologies have been improved since the 2014 Olympics, and, on the opening men’s race, the effort paid off (13 RF camera signals has only 10 when singal quality was on issues). To get RF signals everywhere IBC used two planes:three 50-Mbps signals were sent from each plane (each signal with four camera feeds). The RF system was also able to send tally information and camera controls to camera operators.


International Broadcast Centre

The International Broadcast Centre (IBC) is a temporary hub for broadcasters during major sport events. An International Broadcast Centre is created at every Olympic Games. Broadcasters from around the world build studios in what is generally a large conference centre.lympic Broadcasting Services provides each of these rights-holders a video and audio feed from each venue, beauty shots from around the Olympic venues, transmission facilities, etc.

Rio 2016 receives keys to International Broadcast Centre in Barra Olympic Park article tells that the IBC comprises two buildings: the main building and the IBC offices, which will house Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), the organisation responsible for delivering the pictures and sounds of the Olympic Games. Together, the two buildings occupy a total area of nearly 80,000m². The main building features 12 studios, each of approximately 5,000m². IBC International Broadcast Center Rio 2016 has their own Facebook page and own news page.

Live From Rio 2016: Olympic Broadcasting Services Thinks Bigger Than Ever article shows the Rio Games by the Numbers. Here are some key figures from OBS:

  • 7,100 production personnel from 69 countries will be involved in delivering more than 7,100 hours of HD content.
  • The IBC measures 85,400 sq. meters, with 76,000 sq. meters of broadcast space, and is home to 105 rightsholders.
  • 25,000 km of fiber have been laid out in the Rio contribution network.
  • 386 unilateral feeds and 190 multilateral feeds
  • 52 OB vans

Rio 2016: Online Olympic Viewing Is Skyrocketing, Reports Akamai article tells that Rio de Janeiro Games mark an important change for Olympic viewing. Although NBC Sports ramps up online efforts every two years, this time, viewers have decided that the online coverage is superior -NBC will have streamed 4,500 hours of live coverage. On-line video is viewed a lot: By the end of the third day of events, Akamai, the content-delivery network (CDN) in charge of streaming NBC’s online video, had delivered more data that it did for all 17 days the London Games.

Live From Rio 2016: NBC Olympics’ Content-Management Backbone Is Churning at Historic Rate article tells that digital video will need a lot of storage capacity. All in all, NBC Olympics is prepared to handle and store a staggering 820 TB of main record capacity for the primary ingest wall. For video processing the team has erected an eight-crate Avid ISIS for the Avid editing environment, two arms of Harmonic MediaGrid for the central SAN, an EMC Isilon storage array, an Aberdeen storage array, and a collection of EVS machines. Prepping this content-management system has been a multi-year process dating to the 2012 London Olympics.

Live From Rio 2016: NBC Olympics Gears Up for Massive Content-Creation Effort article tells that NBC Olympics team undertook significant efforts to retool some of the major building blocks at the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and venues, including fiber interconnects, less wiring, more IP, new frame syncs, an IPTV system, router control, improved remote production methods, and, for audio, more MADI, Dante, and OMNEO. The article has a nice set of pictures including this one takes at the NBC Olympics Broadcast Operations Center equipment room.

Highlights of the control rooms include an updated version of the Sony MVS-7000X production switcher with 3.5M/E and eight channels of internal MVS-7000 3D DVEs. Two eight-channel Abekas Mira servers provide 16 channels for effects transitions and on-set display feeds. Also on hand are Miranda Kaleideo-X multidisplay processors.

Rio 2016: Broadcast Audio Looks Muscular Ahead of Olympics Opening article tells that pro-audio pantheon presented a wide array of broadcast solutions for the Summer Olympic Games.Calrec has supplied NBC Sports Group’s NBC Olympics division with seven audio-mixing consoles (Artemis audio and Summa consoles). NBC Olympics will deploy RTS broadcast intercom systems and support, including OMNEO, RVON, IP trunking, ADAM intercom matrix, and intercom panels. Clear-Com’s intercom and audio-connectivity products will be used by a number of global broadcasters in a variety of applications.Audio-Technica has provided microphones, broadcast headsets, and monitor headphones for the production of the games.NBC Olympics will also deploy a Lawo audio-over-IP commentary system. Tektronix has provided audio- and video-test and quality-monitoring equipment. NBC Olympics will use its WFM7200, WVR7200, WFM5200, and WVR5200 waveform monitors and rasterizers, SPG8000A master-sync and master-clock reference generators, and Sentry video-quality monitors to support its coverage.

Live From Rio 2016: BBC Sport Streamlines From London, but Expectations Are High article tells that for BBC key equipment includes Sony production switchers, Sony cameras, Calrec audio consoles, an Imagine routing switcher, and For-A frame-rate converters as “Converting the frame rate is one challenge coming out of here”. There are 34 channels of EVS XT3 servers, which do temporary and quick- turnaround storage, and a nearline storage system from Object Matrix provides a storage platform that times into the Avid ISIS storage systems and 12 Avid editing suites.

Live From Rio 2016: ESPN’s IBC Facility Brings Nations Together; VER Is Key in Making It Happen article shows you what in inside ESPN (ESPN Brazil, ESPN Argentina, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN Caribbean) 2016 Rio Olympics International Broadcasting Center. The article has many pictures. Each network has its own control room featuring a Grass Valley Karrera production switcher. It is possible to monitor any of the incoming feeds (each network has a dedicated portion of a massive monitor wall) coming in via 102 fibers that carry the OBS event audio and video signals as well as unilateral camera feeds. All those feeds are made available to the various production teams via nine EVS XT3 servers and a 120-TB Harmonic Media Grid shared storage system. Content comes into the Harmonic nearline storage at 10 Gbps and out to the editors in the content-production area at 1 Gbps. Machine room that houses Ericsson encoders for ASI transmission and Nimbra encoders for J2K transmission. The audio portion of the engine room features an RTS Adam intercom rack with 500 crosspoints, Evertz EQX router, and processing for five Calrec audio consoles and routing that allows any audio source to be called up on any audio console. They also use Focusrite’s RedNet Ethernet-networked audio-interface boxes to move audio back and forth with the studios with a latency to the Copacabana studios of only 3.2 ms of delay.

Lots of reliable electrical power is needed to keep all this running smoothly. GE Energy Connections Powering the Rio 2016 Olympic Games video tells that GE Energy Connections technologies, from the grid all the way to the 3,000+ Uninterruptible Power Supplies, will play a key role in the delivery, distribution, monitoring and uptime reliability of this power. The additional electrical power needed to run the Olympics is 250 megawatts, and 20% of it is needed to run the IBC.

Powering the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Day 4) video take a peek inside the enormous International Broadcast Center at the heart of the Rio 2016 Olympic Park to see how GE is powering the uninterrupted broadcast of the world’s most watched sporting event.

Photo galleries:

Live from Rio Olympics: ESPN Photo Gallery

2016 Rio Olympic Rowing Production

2016 Rio Olympics Beach Volleyball

2016 Rio Olympic Aquatics Stadium OAS: Swimming

What technology is used, best referenced I could find was those articles:

Rio 2016 Olympics Broadcasts: From 8K to VR to an iPhone

Live From Rio 2016: ESPN’s IBC Facility Brings Nations Together; VER Is Key in Making It Happen

Rio 2016: Broadcast Audio Looks Muscular Ahead of Olympics Opening

SVG Rio 2016 blog







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    How to direct a crew

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    Understanding ultra high definition television

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    Lauren Goode / The Verge:
    Inside NBC’s Olympic live streaming operation, which required a remote support staff of 1,100+ in Stamford, Connecticut — For NBC, this year’s Olympic Games coverage was more than just a series of household rating points; it was a moment of truth in a fast-changing media world.

    Here’s the tech NBC built to stream the Olympics — now can it replace TV?
    The audience is moving to streaming faster than the money

    For NBC, this year’s Olympic Games coverage was more than just a series of household rating points; it was a moment of truth in a fast-changing media world. To say the network won silver in prime-time television ratings would be kind: no matter which article you read, it points out that ratings were down by double digits at different points throughout the games. To say the network took home the gold in streaming video would also be an overstatement: online viewership was up, but the online experience wasn’t quite ready to replace the traditional TV experience.

    That doesn’t mean the Olympics went unnoticed

    In short, a big shift is happening, one that NBC is acutely aware of now that the Olympics have passed. “We’re still learning and experimenting,” Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group, said in a phone interview with The Verge while the games were still in progress. “This is still a test across so many platforms, and we’re going to be learning some lessons that we’re going to be using in the future.”

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    NBC brought more than 1,000 employees to Stamford instead of sending them to Rio

    To support the staff in Rio, the NBC Sports Group ran a ground operation the size of a small college at the 300,000 square foot Stamford facility. The Sports Group’s headquarters typically holds a few hundred employees, but more than 1,100 people were on hand during the two weeks of the games — enough that the company had to put them up and shuttle them in from three different hotels.

    Fiber connections from Rio to Stamford allowed NBC to produce event coverage remotely. An entire studio was packed with 13 vocal booths where producers, analysts, and color commentators watched video feeds from Brazil and announced events in real time for the streaming service — a cost-saving measure that cut down on the amount of talent and equipment NBC had to send to Rio. Staff in the Stamford control rooms were even able to control the lighting in the studios in Rio — another way of bringing employees to Connecticut instead of shipping them to another hemisphere.

    Streams of the Olympics worked well, but the overall experience was fragmented

    Then there’s social media, which would normally seem ancillary to both TV and online streaming but has become a growing component of the sports landscape — Twitter is streaming entire NFL games this year, for example. NBC was active on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube throughout the entirety of the Rio Games, and partnered with BuzzFeed to create content for Snapchat. But some clips seemed truncated, with quick cuts at key moments. Facebook and YouTube videos were capped at 45 seconds, with a slide at the end pointing viewers back to other means of watching the games on NBC. In essence, the footage that lived outside NBC’s paywalls was treated differently. This was true even on an internal level — to wit, clips cut by the “highlights factory” weren’t made immediately accessible to NBC Olympics social media team

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    Socionext 8K Single-Chip Real-Time Decoding Solution

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    The Socionext SC1400AP2 is an ideal solution for broadcasters and manufacturers who want to affordably and efficiently deliver high-quality 8K video content. It is capable of decoding 33 megapixel images at 60 fps

    The SC1400AP2 measures just 45 mm2 and uses only 15 watts of power under normal conditions, including all the memory associated with the chip.


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