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Super Hi-Vision and 22.2 audio tests for London 2012

The London 2012 Olympics mark the end of SD transmissions for major sporting events but even though HD is now the dominant format these Games are the test-bed for the next generation of technology, Super Hi-Vision video with 22.2 sound.

The London 2012 Olympics has been hailed by the EBU as the event marking the end of standard definition transmissions for major sporting events but even though HD is now the dominant format these Games are the test-bed for the next generation of technology, Super Hi-Vision video with 22.2 immersive surround sound. The BBC is shooting highlights packages of selected events in Super Hi-Vision and 22.2 in conjunction with engineers from NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories, which developed the technologies. Three cameras and a special “Globe” microphone rig (pictured), which contains 22 microphones in its central ball and has two low frequency devices on arms either side, are being moved between four of the Olympic venues to record a variety of events. Footage is being shot at the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, Velodrome and basketball venue on alternate days for a series of highlight programmes that are shown in Super Hi-Vision viewing theatres in the UK, the US and Japan. Tim Plyming, project leader for the BBC’s Super Hi-Vision trials during the Games, says the aim is to give viewers a sense of what it is like to be in the venues. Audio feeds are taken from all the host broadcast mics used for an event as well as the Globe rig, which is usually positioned near the camera to give an sound picture of what is being seen. Signals are recorded both locally on to “several hundred” P2 (Professoinal Plug-in, the digital solid state storage medium developed by Panasonic originally for its DV and DVCPro cameras) cards and on a proprietary solid state recorder at BBC Television Centre (TVC) in west London. The audio is embedded in the video stream and sent to TVC, where a Super Hi-Vision production centre has been set up in BBC R&D’s TC0 test studio. This is temporary home to NHK’s custom built 600-channel Fairlight Constellation mixing desk, which has been brought over from Japan for the trials. A final mix is made on this using only effects and PA commentary in the venue. “The desk is used to finesse the first version of the recording but still give the same experience as if the audience were at the Games,” explains Plyming. This is then reproduced on 22.2 loudspeaker systems in the viewing theatres. www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/07/super_hi_vision_ultra_hd.html

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