Live football broadcast – OB at EastlandsFebruary 27, 2012
After a chance meeting at BVE recently I was invited by Ian Rosam to join Sky’s outside broadcast audio crew to see how they cover live football so found myself at Manchester City vs Blackburn at Eastlands on Saturday afternoon. Really useful visit from a couple of angles for me: one is for the Fascinate Project, the other is my current teaching in digital control in audio. Also always good to develop links with the industry we are sending our graduates out into.
The FascinatE project I’ve talked about once or twice before – we’re developing an end to end ‘future broadcast’ system for live events and as part of this we covered a Premier League game with 180 degree hi resolution video and 3D sound at Stamford Bridge thanks to the good people at Chelsea Football Club and friends at SISLive, the outside broadcaster. Saturday was a bonus as Sky have slightly different methods and equipment compared to SIS and it was another opportunity to get first hand knowledge of how live sports broadcast is done. Also an opportunity to see if some of the object based audio research we are doing can have application in today’s broadcast environment. One of its possible applications is in partly automating the mixing process between various pitch side mics and this generated some interest at AES Convention in London last year when we presented some of our work. To implement the object based approach to audio in FascinatE we’ve developed some methods for localisation of any sound source that we may want to capture on a football field (ball kicks, whistles etc). As well as allowing automated mixing it means that we can capture multiple unexpected and unpredicted events simultaneously that a mixing engineer may miss.
During one of the MSc classes I teach some of my students recently gave a great presentation of sync error causes and resolutions for broadcast that featured football coverage and it would have been good to have had them here tonight. Synchronisation between cameras and audio feeds with different signal path delays is something of a nightmare! The Sky audio guys were really helpful and talked me through every step of the process including some of the glitches and workaround in the systems. It’s a slick operation though and runs like a well oiled machine once the match gets under way.
I took a few snaps of the OB truck while I was there below… enjoy.