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Worlds Apart W

hile World Cups can vary wildly in terms of on-the- field sporting competition,

there is one constant: host broadcasters and rights holders alike try to push the technical boundaries when it comes to TV and radio coverage.

Every four years sees a new advance or three. Some resonate more than others. Four years ago it was all about 3D. Tis year three matches will be acquired and broadcast in 4K. While it might not grab the headlines that the 4K pictures will, a lot of effort has also been put into enhancing the audio for the tournament.

“You cannot reinvent sound but we are putting a lot of emphasis on consistency, which is the biggest issue in audio,” says Christian Gobbel, senior engineering manager at HBS, the host broadcaster for Brazil 2014. “At the last World Cup [in South Africa] for example we were

lacking the tools to measure loudness properly but now with the EBU R128 recommendation we are closer [to achieving that consistency].” To deal with the loudness issue, Quality Control based at the IBC will guide the audio engineers at the venues through the mixing process

The main mixes from HBS TVIS (Stereo)

Te TVIS (Television International Soundtrack) will be a broadcast- quality stereo television sound mix to accompany each match. It will be a mixture of at least 12 pitch microphones (including ball sounds) and atmosphere microphones that will aim to provide “exciting and immediate coverage of the game and crowd reactions”. It will also be mono compatible. For the majority of broadcasters, those that want to simply add their own commentary and presentation to each game, this will be the feed of choice.

RIS (Stereo)

Te RIS (Radio International Soundtrack) is a broadcast-quality stereo radio sound mix that will accompany each match. It will consist of a mixture of stadium atmosphere microphones and will aim to provide coverage of the crowd reactions, anthems, and stadium sound suitable for live radio

20 June 2014 MCIS

Te MCIS (Multi-Channel International Soundtrack) is a broadcast-quality 5.1 television sound mix that will be produced to accompany the coverage of each match. Te MCIS will be made up of at least 12 pitch microphones providing ball sounds, atmosphere microphones including special surround microphone arrays and ORTF stereo sources. Te MCIS sound mix will provide much of the same as the TVIS but with the “added enhancement and involvement that multichannel audio brings to the coverage alongside HD pictures”.

A Dolby E encoded multichannel audio mix will be available at the IBC and at each venue. Te Dolby E stream will also contain an English guide commentary.

while additional training will be given so that the “audio guys can read the meters properly and use their ears properly”.

“In our experience the TV viewer is often a better sound engineer in terms of loudness than the guys in the studio,” adds Gobbel. “Tey definitely know when it is too loud or not loud enough.”

transmission rather than reflecting the camera shots. It will also be mono compatible.

As part of its host broadcast service, HBS will make available a number of key elements and mixes for rights

The ERCs

A key component of the HBS production set-up will be the ERCs (Equipment Room Containers). First trialed during the Confederations Cup in Brazil last year, these ‘plug and play’ innovations will replace the Equipment Rooms that have previously been used to produce World Cup coverage.

Referred to as the “beating heart of onsite broadcast operations” the Equipment Rooms connected to all operational rooms. In 2010 in South Africa they were assembled, tested, and troubleshot onsite. Te process is said to have worked very smoothly, but took a long time. Using ERCs instead will improve that situation.

What are they? Te ERCs are remotely controlled freestanding units that feature all the electronics, main cores, and base units as well as thousands of cables (including coax, Ethernet and audio). Having been pre-built and pre-tested in Munich by systems integrator sonoVTS they have now been shipped to Brazil where the cables will simply be unrolled and ‘plugged in’ to the equipment in the various operational rooms. From that point, the venue is essentially active. Twelve ERCs have been built for Brazil 2014. “Te ERCs are essentially very, very big OB vans without wheels or work spaces, built to our exact specifications,” says Gobbel. “Te great thing is being able to test the equipment and the interfacing between all the components well ahead of the event, it’s a huge step forward for us and a great relief in the busy days before the opening match.”

holders including the TVIS, RIS, and MCIS (see box, below left) plus English commentary and Closeball FX.

5.1 surround sound will be provided for unilateral use at the venues. Within this, 16-channel embedders will allow it to be made available un-encoded. “At an event like this, where viewers want to feel like they are actually in the stadium, we put a big effort into things like the surround programme,” says Gobbel.

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Football World Cups are often the venue for technological advances and Brazil 2014 will be no different, especially when it comes to the broadcast audio. Will Strauss reports.

Twelve plug-and-play equipment rooms have been built for Brazil

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