Live From Roland Garros: France Télévisions Experiments With UHD, HDR Production

France Télévisions is once again working closely with the Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT) to make sure that rightsholders for the French Open around the world have a chance to deliver more matches and coverage of the event than ever. And, during the final four days of the tournament, Roland Garros will be the latest event to experiment with UHD production in HDR and SDR.

Bernard Fontaine of France Télévisions says the HDR/SDR tests will find out how much average viewers notice the difference between the two formats.

Bernard Fontaine of France Télévisions says the HDR/SDR tests will find out how much average viewers notice the difference between the two formats.

According to Bernard Fontaine, director of innovation, France Télévisions, a 4K workflow (four Sony cameras operating in SDR mode, four Sony cameras operating in HDR mode, and three additional HD cameras upconverted to 4K) will be deployed during the semifinals and finals. The 4K production will be produced from a Euromedia truck with an ATEME encoder handling the signal using Hybrid-Log-Gamma standard so that a single signal can be delivered to both HDR and SDR sets. Eutelsat will handle satellite distribution.

“It will be interesting to see the differences and then how many people who see it cannot see the difference [between 4K and HDR],” says Fontaine.

As for the traditional HD production, France Télévisions is handling production of the seven TV courts (plus its own domestic feed), and FFT is producing nine additional courts with the use of Sony’s Hawk-Eye system.

Nicolas Kirszenzaft, production manager, Francetv Sport. oversees the French Open production team.

Francetv Sport’s Nicolas Kirszenzaft oversees the French Open production team.

“We have five of our trucks here with seven control rooms handling the international feeds and one truck for the domestic program,” explains Nicolas Kirszenzaft, production manager, Francetv Sport. The two largest trucks have two control rooms in each; the three smaller trucks, one control room each. There are also three Avid editing systems tied to a Unity server for editing needs.

“The challenge is the start, 11 a.m. on the first day, as we need to get seven international feeds up,” says Kirszenzaft. “Then the domestic program begins around 3 p.m. everyday while the Sunday [domestic] show is big.”

More than 600 people are onsite for the production, not so much because of the scale of the production but because French labor laws limit workers to 35 hours per week. As a result, there are two staffers for each position — a move that keeps the crew fresh, which is often not the case at a tennis major complete (like the past two days here) with weather delays.