Sky Sports’ Harlequin 1 Facilities To Be Tapeless; MediaCityUK Set To Open Two HD/5.1 Studios

More details are emerging on the two major UK broadcast centres due to go into operation next year. Sky Sports has selected EVS technology as part of the tapeless production chain for its facilities in the Harlequin 1 complex in west London, while two of the seven HD/5.1 studios under construction at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, have been completed and commissioned.

The EVS installation at Harlequin 1 will work across the ingest, production, and playout areas. It will also be used for editing highlights and preparing material for online storage. The intention is to improve the quality and consistency of Sky Sports highlights programmes, in addition to adding capabilities for distributing material for new-media services as well as TV channels.

The centre will house four production studios, which will be linked to four EVS HD XT[2]+ video servers and four EVS HD XS studio servers. These will be controlled by eight IPDirector suites, featuring IPEdit modules. The facilities will be used for managing and browsing footage, creating clips, and quick-turnaround editing.

EVS is also supplying equipment for the Sky Sports Edit Control Room (ECR), which will be capable of producing and delivering new media. This area will feature 10 XS servers for ingest and playout, all run from the IPDirector content-management system.

A 20-TB XStore SAN centralised near-line media store will hold recorded material, clips, and edits, which will be available to all over a shared network. Highlights will be prepared on 18 EVS Xedio CleanEdit stations, which are connected to the central storage system and are capable of generating graphics. Edit decision lists from the Xedio CleanEdit editors will be sent to the XS servers for HD conforming and subsequent playout.

Editing of live and near-live highlights of Premier League and UEFA Champions League football will be carried out in the “SportaCabin.” This will be based on eight XS servers, 11 HD Xedio CleanEdits and 11 IPEdit on-the-fly editors, which will be used for halftime and post-match analysis.

The EVS system will be integrated with other systems and production areas, including NRCS, MAM, archiving, and graphics. It will also be linked to the Avid iNEWS system, which will be able to control playout from the XS server.

“The real benefit of having a new HD tapeless infrastructure covering ingest, edit, and playout is that you can maximise the use of content throughout different platforms very quickly and efficiently,” says Darren Long, director of operations at Sky Sports. “EVS, with its expertise in live productions and sport broadcasting, has demonstrated the value of its tapeless technology and proven on more than one occasion that it can meet the challenges of such an important project.”

The commercial-studios complex at MediaCityUK, known as Block D, is due to open early next year. It will be the main focus for the BBC’s operations at Salford Quays, which will include BBC Sport.

Block D houses seven HD/5.1 TV studios, plus two audio studios: one for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the other for drama and general production. Studios A, B (both now completed and commissioned), C, and D will feature Calrec Audio Apollo consoles with Hydra 2 routing in their galleries. E and G will have Artemis desks; what will go into Studio F is being reviewed.

Work on the studios is being overseen by lead systems integrator TSL, which has offices at MediaCityUK.