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German Milestone: Sky Deutschland Creates First Live Remote Production of Dolby Atmos for Major Host Feed With the Bundesliga


German milestone: Sky Deutschland creates the first live remote production of Dolby Atmos for a major host feed with the Bundesliga By Heather McLean, Editor

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 - 09:17

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At the DFL Supercup 2022 Bayern Munich beat RB Leipzig 5-3

Sky Deutschland has created the first remote production of Dolby Atmos for a top-flight sport's live major host feed in Germany.

At the Deutsche Fu ball Liga (DFL) Supercup on 30 July where RB Leipzig faced off against Bayern, Sky Germany provided fans with full immersive sound, working with the DFL's technical services provider, Sportcast, which deals with the on-site production and technical set up for the Bundesliga, its partner, Vidi, and audio expert Professor Felix Kr ckels.

In just four weeks, Kr ckels and Vidi developed a Remote Audio Control Room (RACR) based in Darmstadt, and have dealt with a complex array of issues along the way to make Dolby Atmos a regular feature for avid fans of German football.

I can tell you it feels with the fast network for all control data (surface to control system to UHD Core and monitoring back to Darmstadt) like I am sitting in the truck onsite

Kr ckels, who is Professor for Broadcast Production and System Design at the University of Darmstadt, Media Campus Dieburg, along with Vidi were tasked with deploying the RACR for the production of the international host feed in 5.1.4 plus six objects, and in parallel, the 5.1 and stereo downmix to generate the international sound, as well as the Sky Germany mix for the match in 5.1.4 plus two objects.

While the first match to showcase the remote production of Dolby Atmos in a top tier sport was the DFL Supercup two weeks ago, it is now being used on all subsequent top matches, which in Germany are regularly played during the season at around 6.30pm on a Saturday.

Now is the time

As to why Sky Germany decided this was the right time for Dolby Atmos to go remote on live sport, Alexander Lutz, head of next gen production platforms and content technologies and platforms at Sky Deutschland, told SVG Europe: Sky Germany, in agreement with our service provider, decided to do remote production because there's simply no space left at most of the stadiums to get another OB van next to the existing [broadcast production] one, which is required to do a proper Dolby Atmos mix. If you can imagine, you need a proper calibrated, integrated acoustic environment, and this is not within the normal UHD OB van.

Lutz continues: To produce in Atmos, you need an extra silent and calibrated environment for all the 3D speaker positions. Either you bring another OB van next to the main production truck, and at most of the [Bundesliga] stadiums there's no space for that, or from the other side, it's also not optimum because even within the OB truck, it's not on a permanent environment for advanced audio. So remote production means we have a dedicated room somewhere. It's just the one for all these productions; it doesn't have to be transported somewhere, it's always measured and calibrated and you can produce all events from one single place.

This was the solution for us also because the technological solutions are already existing. Especially for audio signals, the latency is very acceptable if you do a remote production because the network is fast enough and the bandwidth within Germany is OK, so you can have a proper network connection to the remote production, concludes Lutz.

Adds Tim Achberger, director of technology and product management, Sportcast: Our goal was to develop a remote-based immersive audio production concept which is scalable for our various national and international licensing partners.

Felix Kr ckels created the Dolby Atmos Remote Audio Control Room (RACR) based in Darmstadt for Sky Germany to produce all top Bundesliga matches going forwards in immersive audio

Multiple challenges

The challenges in this deployment were multiple, says Kr ckels, the brain behind the system: The technical challenge was to minimise latency to not force the video path into adding [any extra] video delay. You have to remember that the remote mix is also the international sound, which is used for all HD feeds, all ISO recordings to EVS machines, etc. That means if the audio would imply more delay than the cameras do anyway, it would have been necessary to delay all cameras and all feeds, and we are talking about 25-plus cameras!

Also, network latency changes from stadium to stadium, which means we knew the audio and video difference would have been different from one stadium to another. Therefore we proposed a solution where the control room is in a central location, in Darmstadt, in a controlled environment with proper speaker set up and the space for it, but the mixing console DSP is on site in a small stage box; the RACR stage box. This solution prevents [the system] from adding on roundtrip time. In Darmstadt I am receiving only the monitoring output for speakers and headphones, 10 channels and a bit more for headphones and metering; it's like I am mixing onsite in the stadium, but I'm actually sitting in Darmstadt.

The second request was that we are not yet able to synchronise all OB vans and Darmstadt to the same clock, in this case PTP. Therefore we simply added MADI SRC's between the truck and the RACR Stagebox.

It's not simple to produce Dolby Atmos. It's really not simple. Dolby was involved from the beginning [of planning this with Sky Germany] and had to deal with a lot of issues and solve them and consult us. It is not easy to manage those Dolby audio channels on top of the existing infrastructure

Kr ckels and the Vidi team deployed a complete RACR with a 9.1 monitoring set up. The heart of the system is a Lawo mc 56 MK3 with two UHD Cores and a PowerCore attached to
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