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Tokyo Olympics: OBS CTO Sotiris Salamouris Discusses the Technical Leaps as Games Go All UHD/HDR

20/07/2021

Tokyo Olympics: OBS CTO Sotiris Salamouris Discusses the Technical Leaps as Games Go All UHD/HDR By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 9:00 am

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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 CTO Sotiris Salamouri.

Sotiris Salamouris, OBS CTO, says the move to the cloud will have a positive impact on not only operations but also set up and planning.

Salamouris oversees all the technical operations of OBS, including managing the planning group responsible for the design and delivery of the technical facilities and services of the host broadcasting opera tions for the Olympic Games. He is also responsible for introducing the technological roadmap for OBS and the mid- to long-term planning regarding the adoption of new technologies and manages the international team of broadcast engineers and operational personnel that has planned and operated the broadcast technical facilities for the past five Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as all editions of the Youth Olympic Games.

How do you view the effects of the coronavirus crisis on technology development? Will it stall progress or provide an unexpected opportunity?

Clearly, this will be an opportunity. A major hurdle in the fast adoption of digital workflows in the media industry has not been the lack of technology or digital tools per se; on the contrary, we have long realized within OBS that the existing technology is already quite advanced and reliable and could already be used for more efficient planning and in actual production workflows. Probably the biggest hurdle has been the level of inertia of others to adopt something that is so different from what has been used in the past, and such inertia is quite an important factor that should never be underestimated. We realize again and again the adoption of new technologies takes a long time, despite them being already available and mature enough. In the end, it comes down to demonstrating the value of the technological advances to people and emphasizing that it should make their day-to-day tasks easier. The early tangible benefits of technology is there to help gain buy-in and gather momentum for further adoption and advances. Then, there needs to be widespread training to familiarize large numbers of future users with the new capabilities and possibilities. In this sense, the coronavirus pandemic has been a supremely disruptive experience; it has made the advan tages of digitization even more obvious and provided a super accelerated' training to millions of media professionals on digital workflows and tools that otherwise would have taken years to be completed. Following the pandemic, we will enter a very different era in the methodologies and workflows that will be followed in content production, manage ment and distribution and OBS is more than ready to accept the challenge.

How significant is the change to Ultra High Definition (UHD) and how is it changing how the industry works?

It is very big change, a substantial change to what we have done before. We have tran sitioned between technologies at previous Games, notably at Beijing 2008 when we went from standard definition coverage to High Definition (HD). The change now is similar in terms of breadth, but the challenge is greater because the step between HD and UHD is much more demanding than between standard and HD. There is also the additional element of the transition from SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) to HDR (High Dynamic Range) and WCG (Wide Color Gamut) which comes with its own unique difficulties.

Technologically, it is a big step and made even more substantial because of the size of the broadcast operation at an Olympics. We need to support more than 40 venues and this means a comparable number of available production units. There are more than 50 outside broad cast vans and fly-pack systems that we need to assemble to cover the Games, and all of them need to transition to UHD and HDR/WCG.

It is a tremendous change and requires a lot of attention to how it is being engineered. Everyone in the industry knows that it has been coming, and while they may have expected it to take place over a number of years, the reality is that it has recently been speeding up, especially in the world of sports content. Most of the equipment that is reaching the broadcast market now is UHD ready and works on UHD workflows. The technology has reached a maturity level such that we are all confident that it is ready for the broadcast coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Games. However, this is not something that you can take lightly, especially in our own production environ ment since there are so many moving parts that need to be brought together.

We have done our homework and we are confi dent that the transition will be successful and the Olympic UHD HDR content will be stunning and delivered as per the strict quality expecta tions our RHBs have. Of course, we understand that there is a lot of attention on us and on what we are doing in Tokyo. It has a major impact on the broadcast industry because if we weren't to introduce it for the Olympics, it would probably take even longer to be widely adopted. We offer a service to the RHBs to satisfy their needs and, by doing this, we believe that we are also helping the industry move forward and transi tion faster and easier.

Few industries have such requirements in terms of number and size of data flows, combined with ultra-low latency and zero tolerance for data loss. How is Internet Protocol (IP) tech nology supporting your operations?

IP has been making its way to broadcast opera t
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/07/20/tokyo-olympics-obs-cto-sotiris-...
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