Grass Valley Wins Overseas Sports Deals

Grass Valley continues to gain traction around the world among the sports broadcasting community as French broadcaster TF1 andLIVE, Abu Dhabi Media Company’s wholly-owned outside broadcast subsidiary and the first provider of HD remote production in the Gulf, recently embraced Grass Valley gear for sports needs.

“Television, and particularly entertainment and sports, is a global business, and producers want to achieve the same production values and technical quality wherever they are,” says Jeff Rosica, Senior Price President of Grass Valley.

TF1’s all-digital broadcast center in Boulogne Billancourt (near Paris) to high-definition (HD) purchased Grass Valley Maestro HD master control and branding systems, a Grass Valley Concerto Series HD router, multiple Grass Valley K2 media clients and a fully redundant K2 storage area network (SAN), as well as a Grass Valley NetCentral facility monitoring software platform to manage the multichannel system.

In May of 2008 TF1’s Eurosport 24/7 sports network launched several HD channels from its broadcast center, which are supported by a large Grass Valley K2 SAN and multiple Grass Valley K2 media server systems.

“We knew that Grass Valley would be able to handle a project of this size and sophistication as they have the experience and technology required to make it a success,” says Gilles Maugars, CTO at TF1. “TF1 has had a long partnership with Grass Valley and we expect this to continue for many years as we continue to move to HD across all of our platforms.”

The new systems being installed at TF1’s content distribution facility enable the network to receive raw feeds and syndicated programs, insert commercials and branding elements, and distribute both standard-definition (SD) and HD content to distribution networks throughout France in a highly automated workflow.

Among the new capabilities, the same K2 media clients allow TF1 to process and distribute MPEG-2 HD (80 Mb/s) content as well as 26-50 Mb/s MPEG, and IMX files. Automating the process with the Maestro HD master control system and handling both SD and HD material simultaneously with the K2 systems (2 input channels and 6 output channels each) saves cost and increases productivity. This will also bring the network a fast return on investment.

Meanwhile LIVE, Abu Dhabi Media Company’s wholly-owned outside broadcast subsidiary and the first provider of HD remote production in the Gulf, has purchased four Grass Valley LDK 8300 high-definition (HD) super slo-mo cameras and 10 LDK 8000 Elite HD cameras. The cameras will be integrated into the fleet of four outside broadcast trucks supplied to LIVE by Grass Valley in 2008.

The LDK 8300 super slo-mo camera is the only native switchable, multi-format HD camera capable of shooting at three times and two times normal frame rates for smooth slow motion replays, as well as at normal speed when super slo-mo is not required (3X/2X/1X). The LDK 8300 is based on the popular LDK 8000 HD camera, which ensures that pictures precisely match, rich production values are available and technical quality is not compromised.

LIVE commissioned Grass Valley to build a fleet of four world-class HD outside broadcast trucks which comprised of two articulated trailers and two smaller units in fixed trucks. The delivery of the trucks enabled LIVE to launch and immediately lead the market in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) for top-class remote production capabilities to broadcast the increasing number of local and international events in the region. The UAE professional football league involves LIVE covering up to six games each weekend.

The original build of the trucks included 34 LDK 8000 cameras. Delivery of the new order takes that total to 44 LDK 8000s, in addition to the four LDK 8300 super slo-mo cameras which are the first specialist slow motion cameras to be sold to the Gulf region.

“We are leading innovation in HD production in the region and the super slo-mo cameras are perfect for capturing every nuance of the region’s biggest sporting and cultural events in crystal clear detail,” says Abdul Hadi Al Sheik, Managing Director and CEO of LIVE. “We are committed to elevating the standards of production in the region and that means investing in the most advanced equipment in the world. Grass Valley’s high quality camera technology has allowed us to be the first production company in the region to offer remote HD production.”

The order was placed in December 2008 and delivered by February 2009. As well as 10 Grass Valley LDK 8000 Elite cameras and four LDK 8300 super slo-mo cameras, the turnkey supply contract included six channel slow-motion servers for each of the four trucks, a selection of Canon zoom lenses (including 100X lenses), and pedestals and supports from Vinten.