Gulf Cup Brings HD to Al Jazeera Viewers

By Kevin Hilton

SVG Europe Editor

The Gulf Cup, which covers volleyball, basketball, and handball competitions as well as football, reaches its climax this weekend with the football trophy final between hosts Oman and Saudi Arabia at the Sultan Qaboos sports complex in Muscat. The tournament began on Jan. 2 and has been transmitted in HD for the first time by host broadcaster Al Jazeera, with international feeds in 4:3 SD.

In recent years, the event has used European broadcast technology and expertise, with production facilities provided by Mediapro Group of Spain, with three big HD OB trucks supplied by its Portuguese subsidiary, Medialuso.

There is a further connection to Portugal, with real-time, on-air graphics supervised by wTVision of Lisbon. The company is in charge of compiling and broadcasting all statistics, using its SportStats CG Suite software package to show all the facts and figures on both individual players and their teams.

On-air graphics for all four sports have been produced using six Orad HDVG platforms, with virtual graphics for football only provided by a Deltacast HD system. Graphics were handled by 18 wTVision staffers: a project manager, producer, seven spotters, seven operators, one graphic designer, and a programmer.

The football final will be shot using 26 cameras, as were the semi-finals. The cameras include four super-slow-motion (SSM) devices, Spidercam, Omnicam, Steadicam, and two mini-cams. The group matches featured 21 cameras, with two SSMs. Coverage of volleyball, basketball, and handball used 12 cameras, including two SSMs, for each game.

Signals from the four venues — two in Muscat, one in Sohar, one in Nizwa — were fed to the international broadcast centre overseen by a Mediapro production team. The main feed was in full HD with stereo audio for Al Jazeera; international broadcasters received 4:3 SD pictures over satellite links.