2nd European Games Keep Talent And Crews Connected Via AoIP Technology

By any measure, this year’s 2019 2nd European Games in Minsk, Belarus from June 21-30 were a major sports undertaking that required a lot of technical coordination and logistical skill to make happen. Over 4,000 athletes from 50 European Countries competed in 15 different sports and 23 disciplines. International Sports Broadcasting SL (ISB) served as the host broadcaster for the Games.

Eleven sports venues were all interconnected throughout the country via a multi-layered audio-over IP (AoIP) Dante network, with signals from each fed back to a central IBC in Belarus. A dozen mobile units (some four designed and built by Broadcast Solutions for Belarus TV), and over 200 cameras—including specialty cameras, eight ENG crews and a number of fly-packs, supported these venues.

Each mobile production truck featured 18 Grass Valley HD cameras (two SuperSlomo and 14 standard HD-cameras), vision mixers, video routers, multiviewers and slow-motion servers. These were complemented by a four-camera HD flightcase studios and a support vehicle. The audio mixing was handled by Calrec Audio broadcast consoles and audio routers. IHSE KVM systems to secure access to computers and workstations, and the on-board intercoms consisted of Riedel Artist systems.

When you add in a team of 700 broadcast professionals helping to produce over 600 hours of live coverage and close to 800 hours of content production that reached 190 worldwide Right Holders at the IBC and their home countries, one can see the complexity involved.

IP Audio technology supplier AEQ provided technical manpower and all of the intercom and Commentary Audio systems between the sports venues. This included numerous AoIP Network interfaces, audio codecs, commentary units; while its sister company and Kroma by AEQ supplied broadcast monitors for the production control.

Esteban Galán, Head of Technical Operations at ISB, at the AEQ controls.

Esteban Galán, Head of Technical Operations at ISB, at the AEQ controls.

“We feel really comfortable working with AEQ’s equipment and their technical support team,” said Esteban Galán, Head of Technical Operations at ISB.

The intercom system deployed by ISB was an AEQ Crossnet-based system with multi-channel AoIP networking capability to provide the crews flexibility and ensure broadcast quality audio for the crew communication channels across all the venues was reliable and sound. Approximately 45 AEQ user panels were installed, most in the IBC and a few others at the competition venues. A Dante-based audio network allowed for the Crossnet to carry IFB signals originating from any point in the network. These signals were used to support a variety of media outlets, including international sound and mixed zone feeds or commentary guides.

Signals could be accessed through an AEQ NetBox 32 and eight analog-to-digital units and also via a series of Netbox 4MH audio-over IP interfaces that were deployed to allow the crew to handle mic signals.

AoIP technology from AEQ included numerous AoIP Network interfaces, audio codecs, commentary units; while its sister company and Kroma by AEQ supplied broadcast monitors for the production control.

AoIP technology from AEQ included numerous AoIP Network interfaces, audio codecs, commentary units; while its sister company and Kroma by AEQ supplied broadcast monitors for the production control.

The AEQ Venus 3, a dual IP stereo, full duplex audio codec system was used to establish two bi-directional stereo or four mono (to one or two different locations) connections locally to the on-site AoIP multi-channel networks. The Venus 3 was also used to interconnect some Venue units with an AEQ Phoenix Alio Commentary Unit. The Alio is a portable audio codec with mixer functions and that allows for either local or remote control. This came in handy when the talent at the commentary positions were non-technical and needed assistance.

Other venues, such as the Main Stadium relied on the AEQ Olympia 3 AoIP Multi-channel Commentary Unit, which is a sound mixer that can operate as an independent or standalone Commentary Unit or linked to a small, medium or large Commentary System.

Both 18-inch and 24-inch versions of the Kroma by AEQ Series 7000 Broadcast Monitors were installed in the production area of the IBC for quality control, and were shipped in ISB fly-packs.

All in all, ISB used a wide range of different products from AEQ to connect all of the venues and keep the crews and talent in close communication, which is critical for any multi-site live sports production. The ISB’s Galán said that, in this case, AEQ’s commentary audio, production intercom and quality control systems made the difference.

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