Gearhouse Keys German Olympic Broadcasts

By Kevin Hilton
Germany has several medal hopes,
including the national basketball team, which has been boosted by the
addition of Dallas Mavericks star Chris Kaman, who qualified for inclusion
due to his great-grandparents being German. To cover his progress and
that of his adopted compatriots there is a strong television presence,
with public broadcasters ZDF and ARD sending out a total of 320 staff
(variously technicians, producers and editors). Gearhouse Broadcast keyed much of their technical
infrastructure, relying on vendors like Avid, EVS, and Sony to help get
the German Olympic story out to German viewers. For the Olympics ZDF and ARD
have facilities at the National Sports Stadium (NST) for athletics,
the National Aquatics Centre (NAC), the Rowing area (SRF) and the Equestrian
Centre (HKS) in Hong Kong. These technical areas have been designed
and installed for the broadcasters by systems integrator Gearhouse Broadcast,
with two big studios at the German House, the main focus for the country’s
competitors and media representatives during the Games.
The German House also includes
a number of Avid editing rooms and two production control rooms. Elsewhere
there will be a presentation studio at the NST, with unilateral cameras
to concentrate on German athletes both there and at the other venues.
Equipment provided by Gearhouse includes a Sony MFS 2000 vision mixer,
two EVS LSM XT HD servers, two Sony PDW F75 XDCAM VTRs, four RDRG X210S
DVD recorders, one Sony Grade 1 BVM D14H5E Grade 1 monitor, 11 Vurtix
23-inch and 17-inch TFT monitors, 20 CRT monitors (a mixture of Sony
and JVC), a Pro Bel Halo 32×32 HD router, a Yamaha MC7 audio mixer and
a Clearcom communications system. Gearhouse has seven engineers out
in China to provide cover for the facilities, although ARD is using
its own production crew.
ZDF had to reduce the amount
of space it was to occupy within the International Broadcast Centre
(IBC) but still has 2,034 square metres on one floor, with ADR Radio
taking 403 cubic metres. ZDF and ARD will be alternating 17 hours of
daily coverage between two o’clock in the morning and six in the evening,
with a hour and a half highlights programme at 8.15pm presented by sportscaster
and talk show host Johannes B. Kerner and radio and TV presenter Katrin
M ller-Hohenstein. There will be additional transmissions lasting between
eight and 12 hours from Beijing on info.channel and ZDFdokukanal, which
are available on cable and satellite as part of ZDFvision.
ZDF is using 32 commentary
lines, with 44 world picture circuits and 12 multilateral feeds provided
by the EBU, which is also supplying a total of 125 four-wire circuits
for communications. Material is being carried from Beijing to Mainz
over a STM1 glass fibre connection, which is also carrying telephony
and data. All of which has helped German viewers see Patrick Hausding
and Sacha Klein take silver in the men’s synchronised 10-metre diving
event and Ditte Kotzian and Heike Fischer pick up bronze medals for
the women’s synchronised 3 metre springboard.
ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen,
which translates literally as Second German Television) is the national
TV service and is considered to be the biggest TV network in Europe.
It was created in 1963 and has its headquarters in the south-western
Rhineland city of Mainz, bureaux in the 16 state capitals and a news
and production centre in the country’s capital, Berlin. As well as its
main channel the broadcaster runs three cable/satellite services, KI.KA,
arte, 3sat and Phoenix, in conjunction with other broadcast organisations,
and has a digital platform, and ZDFvision, offering three services;
doku channel, info channel and theater kanal.
ADR is an association of regional
public TV and radio broadcasters, established in 1950, and produces
a national network called Das Erste (The First), which went on air in
1994 and replaced from other services along similar lines known as ‘First
German Television’ to differentiate them from ZDF. The service is made
up of: Bayerischer Rundfunk, Hessischer Rundfunk, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk,
Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Radio Bremen, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Saarl ndischer
Rundfunk, S dwestrundfunk, Westdeutscher Rundfunk and international
network Deutsche Welle. As well as its terrestrial channel ADR runs
three free-to-air digital channels and is a partner in the cable and
satellite consortium that also includes ZDF.