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SailGP Returns for a Second Season With the Ultimate Remote Production' Setup

11/05/2021

SailGP returns for a second season with the ultimate remote production' set up By Michael Burns

Monday, May 10, 2021 - 13:38

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Data-driven, remotely produced, sustainably-minded and featuring fabulous locations and very fast boats, the second season of SailGP is underway and the broadcast production values are even higher

SailGP is back. The thrilling high-speed foiling catamaran race that takes place in spectacular locations around the world has returned following the postponement of the 2020 season, and the award-winning live broadcast coverage is even more innovative than before.

The Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess marked the opening event of the second season for the sport's pinnacle league and is the first of eight events that take place throughout 2021-2022 across three continents. Fans will be able to enjoy the action worldwide with broadcast coverage now reaching 175 territories.

From Bermuda, Warren Jones, chief technology officer for SailGP, gives SVG Europe the lowdown: For Season 2 we are bringing viewers closer to the action at each race. Key to this is how we communicate with the F50s [SailGP's supercharged foiling catamarans] via a direct connection to a remote Oracle data centre in London. This technology allows us to deliver real-time data to racing teams and fans alike, enabling spectators to gain a greater understanding of the sport and appreciation of the skill of the crews.

SailGP Season 2 features teams from Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the US, including veteran sailors and Olympic athletes

Remote production

Jones acknowledges SailGP has been fortunate in that COVID-19 has not had too much of an impact on how the race is actually broadcast. SailGP deployed its first remote production in January 2019 in Sydney, continuing throughout Season 1, including San Francisco, New York City, Cowes and Marseille. This season, we built on the remote production ethos we developed in Season 1, bringing more services and software stack into the Oracle Cloud to enable a greater level of remote production.

The live coverage is once again being produced from a dedicated gallery at Timeline TV's Ealing broadcast centre by host broadcaster Whisper Films, but here too enhancements have been made, according to Daniel McDonnell, MD of Timeline Television.

This season, we built on the remote production ethos we developed in Season 1, bringing more services and software stack into the Oracle Cloud to enable a greater level of remote production

At the core, it's the same sort of concept as last season, a complete remote OB, says McDonnell. There are no production facilities on site, every single source comes back to our Ealing broadcast centre and that's where the director, the EVS operators and graphics [are based]. This year we took it even further. We brought the umpires back into Ealing, we brought all of the camera racking back and all the boats were controlled from within Ealing, so no operators were on site.

We have a high-speed, private fibre network provided by Tata from Ealing broadcast centre to the OB, he continues. So that gives us a huge opportunity to bring back all the feeds.

According to Jones, this takes the form of two redundant, dedicated, high-availability links installed for SailGP between each venue and the production based in London for every race. Each F50 has two on-board cameras that are operated in London alongside three camera boats, two ENG cameras and one helicopter camera, he says. We also manage SailGP digital output from London, including the SailGP app that has live data and video plus all social media output including YouTube and Facebook live streams. These feeds were streamed to London from 4,000 miles away in Bermuda and produced and distributed in near real time, which is an incredible feat of technology.

There's no internet involved, it travels two ways around the world to give us a full level of redundancy, says McDonnell. Once we've got all the feeds back into Ealing we can put them all in a MAM. We also had multiple OTT streams, so we had the ability for rights holding broadcasters to take their own onboard camera feeds if they wish to supplement the world feed. The opportunities are all very scalable. This is the ultimate way to do remote production, to get everything back.

The F50s have a crew of five: a helmsman, wing trimmer, flight controller and two grinders

Onboard setup

The boats have a crew of five - a helmsman, wing trimmer, flight controller and two grinders. The catamarans are state of the art in terms of sailing prowess, but they're not lacking in terms of comms and AV either. Each boat carries customised video cameras and microphones, and athletes are miked up, allowing producers to jump to individual crew members and cameras for detail-level shots or when an incident occurs.

Specialised onboard hardware, including GPS antennas and receivers, telemetry antennas and data radios, tracking equipment, inertial measurement units, wiring harnesses and batteries - most of which are fitted in the hulls of the F50 in protective Pelican cases - allow SailGP to achieve 2cm positional accuracy of each craft.

With the postponement of Season 2, we looked closely at improvements on the F50s, particularly with the ambient sound that these devices create, says Jones. For Season 2, in addition to the camera feeds, each F50 has two effects microphones installed within the platform and we have improved the athletes' communications between the team on the water and with SailGP departments. For the Bermuda SailGP race, for example, Iain Murray our race director was located in Sydney while still being able to communicate with each SailGP team. Craig Mitchell, SailGP chief umpire, was locate
LINK: https://www.svgeurope.org/blog/headlines/sailgp-returns-for-a-second-s...
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