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Tokyo Olympics: OBS Chief Content Officer Mark Wallace on Storytelling Technology

21/07/2021

Tokyo Olympics: OBS Chief Content Officer Mark Wallace on Storytelling Technology By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 12:06 pm

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SVG's coverage of the production of the Tokyo Olympics begins in earnest this week and we kick things off with a series of OBS executive interviews that have been provided by OBS to the media (our team will be on site next week and will interview them in the coming weeks). Below is an interview with OBS Chief Content Officer Mark Wallace.

OBS Chief Content Officer Mark Wallace says more than 1,000 cameras will be used to tell the stories of the Tokyo Olympics.

In this role, Wallace oversees the organization's broad cast and digital coverage at all competition venues and the Ceremonies, as well as the development of pre-Games and in-Games content. Mark also oversees on-screen graphics, archives and all the Games-time content delivery solutions such as the Multi Clip Feeds, Multi-channel Distribution Service, Digital Content Solutions, Content+, immersive media, and the Olympic Channel News. With nearly 30 years of experience working in media, Mark has specialized in the executive planning and management of major sport events, including five Olympic Games, the UEFA European Football Championships and the Rugby World Cup.

What is the scale of OBS's broadcast produc tion at Games-time?

OBS employs about 8,100 broadcast profes sionals, and the core of our operation is the live sports coverage from each competition venue. We bring in the best venue production teams that the world has to offer to produce that action and I have a group of producers who oversee the various sports and ensure the coverage of every sport is consistent and is of Olympic quality, which is an industry leading standard. We will use a total of 1,049 camera systems for the broadcast of the Tokyo 2020 Games of which more than 210 are slow-motion cameras. We will also have no less than 11 four-point cablecam systems in place, as well as a broad range of other specialty equipment.

Aside from what we see on television, what else does OBS deliver?

We now have other feeds coming out from some of the venues, notably the Multi Clip Feeds (MCFs) which run simultaneously with the main coverage and offer unseen angles from point-of-view (POV) and super slo-motion cameras, and all our specialty systems. They help RHBs tailor their own programming with enhanced analysis. There will be 75 multilateral feeds and 28 MCFs coming from the venues in Tokyo, which represents a huge amount of content distributed to the RHBs through a 48-channel VandA package and an additional 28-channel VandA+ package. For the first time, we have native UHD HDR production, with 68 multilaterals distributed in a specific VandA package consisting of 44 channels.

Who are the venue production teams respon sible for executing the OBS production plan?

To execute our coverage plan, we bring in expert venue production teams with extensive knowledge of the sport. These teams are either freelance professionals or come from broad casters who are our RHBs. Notable examples are NBC, the US rights holders who will provide expertise in Golf, Sky New Zealand for Rugby Sevens, China Media Group for Table Tennis, Badminton, Gymnastics and Sport Climbing, and Japanese broadcaster NHK who will assist with Judo and Karate. We work with these teams to place the cameras and micro phones, to adjust the lighting, so as to ensure the coverage will be of a very high standard. As one of the industry leaders, Japan provides a high level of local expertise, so in total nine venue production teams are from Japa

What innovations has OBS made since Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018?

The continued expansion of the MCFs is a response to RHB requests. For Tokyo 2020, most of the sports will have a MCF. The RHBs will be using these in their studio for analysis and for making music clips and transitions.

In selected sports, we will also be delivering multi-camera replays where the image freezes, and the viewer moves around the action. We have utilized these before, but never as exten sively as we will in Tokyo. Such production enhancements are ideal for analysis because you can now see something on the multilateral feed that you couldn't before. For example, we can freeze the athlete in mid-air and see the exact body shape of the athlete. It has a definite wow factor.

We will also be employing Intel's TrueView system in Basketball which can utilize virtual cameras to allow the viewer to move into the venue and make if feel like being on the field of play and part of the action, alongside their favorite athletes. This will enable better story telling as replays will have more angles and then of course there will be more data for viewers to access than ever before. We will capture more data on the athletes' performance, so the viewers will have access to additional informa tion, enabling them to have a more complete understanding of the action.

We are also excited to partner with Intel and Alibaba to bring the next era of technology by enhancing the viewing experience for the Athletics sprint races. Relying on 3D Athlete Tracking technology, we will be able to reveal never-before seen insights into athletes' velocity and acceleration, and how they perform against each other. The technology can convert that data into visual overlays which can be broadcast over replays, providing commentators with a great tool for analysis and further fan engagement.

There is a unique phenomenon with the tele vision audience for an Olympic Games. Many are what I would call the Olympic viewer. They are someone who doesn't usually watch a lot of sport and they decide they want to watch the Olympics because of the storytelling, narrative, and personalities. Our job is to entertain, inform and educ
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/07/21/tokyo-olympics-obs-chief-conten...
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