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World Games Provide Test Bed for Olympics Production

22/07/2022

World Games Provide Test Bed for Olympics Production Cloud-based workflow is deployed for 10-day multi-sport event By Dan Daley, Audio Editor

Friday, July 22, 2022 - 11:09 am

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Think of it as a Summer League for the Olympics. The World Games 2022, the international multi-sport event that ended on Sunday after a 10-day run in Birmingham, AL, is a proving ground for possible tweaks to Olympics-production workflows as well as a parade for potential new Olympic sports.

International Sports Broadcasting's David Taunton (left) and Ursula Romero at The World Games 2022

Like an Olympics, The World Games are usually held every four years (one year after a Summer Olympics), but it offers a cavalcade of largely unfamiliar sports: for example, fistball, floorball and korfball, lifesaving, orienteering, and Muay Thai. It's worth noting, however that several sports or disciplines featured at past World Games are now part of the Olympic Games. All told, more than 30 sports were included in the TWG 2022 official program, and around 3,500 participants from nearly 100 nations took part.

Other than the somewhat exotic sports lineup, though, The World Games' workflow would be familiar to many who work the Olympics. That's largely because the overarching federation, the International World Games Association (IWGA), is under the aegis of the International Olympics Committee. Its International Broadcast Center (IBC) is heavily populated by Olympics-broadcast veterans: it's led by Ursula Romero, managing director, International Sports Broadcasting (ISB), the Olympics' longtime broadcast-technology vendor, and includes ISB Head of Engineering Jorge Pickering and Head of Production David Taunton. The World Games events are viewed through Olympics.com as well as various rightsholders like ESPN Latin America and CCTV.

Eight Production Vans Move From Sport to Sport The workflow is pretty much the same, though on a smaller scale, Romero said during the event. We have production OB vans deployed at eight sports [venues] every day, and these mobile units get moved around from sport to sport as needed. Our aim is to cover as many semifinals and finals as possible, and, on some occasions, we've managed to also do all the preliminaries: for example, with gymnastics and lifesaving. But, with the eight mobile units, provided by F&F Productions, we've been basically driving all over Birmingham, going from venue to venue rigging and de-rigging, then packing up and going to the next venue. In an ideal world, we would've had more OB vans to be able to cover more and not have to move around so much. But that's what the budget allowed for.

(A significant difference between The World Games and the Olympics is that host cities are not required to construct dedicated venues for events. Say the World Games website, Ideally, the event is to be staged at existing venues, in appropriately sized facilities that have been planned or built regardless of the candidate host bidding for the event. )

CBS Sports Softball announcers Kayla Braud (left) and Gray Robertson called the gold-medal game from the International Broadcast Center.

A total of 23 competition venues in and around Birmingham were used for TWG 2022. The signal was backhauled from the production vans, over either IP or fiber, to the International Broadcast Center (IBC), located at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC), also the site of the dancesport and gymnastics competitions.

ISB is set up at the BJCC South Hall of the IBC, where we receive all feeds from the venues, explained Pickering, who served as project coordinator. Here, the signal is verified and distributed internally for the production of The World Games Channel, which was offered to broadcasters around the world 24/7 with English commentary.

Production Packaged for The World Game Channel ISB also established a master-control room to receive and distribute the signal internally to the logging and server facilities used for editing and integration at the dispatch station of The World Games Channels. The transmission was offered on audio Channels 1 and 2 for international sound; Channels 3 and 4 had English commentary with a mixdown of the international-feed audio.

From there, said Romero, we package the World Games Channel, which is a 24/7, ready-to-air channel similar to what OBS does during the Olympics with the Olympics News Channel: a mix of live sports, delayed sports, and two daily highlight packages. That includes sport that is covered with ENG, which is edited here in the IBC as well, plus little feature-type pieces about Birmingham.

(For Birmingham, The World Games is its second significant sports coup this year: the state's third-most-populous city was also the site of the entire second season of the USFL, which took place at Protective Stadium. Located at the BJCC, the city's new $180 million stadium hosted the TWG 2022 official introduction and grand-finale entertainment event.)

The IWGA's partnership with [ISB] put the Birmingham Organizing Committee in experienced hands to showcase the city, the competitions, and the athletes to the world, said Hammond Reynolds, executive producer, broadcast, The World Games 2022. The sights and sounds from these games have been spectacular. The beautiful video has showcased our beautiful city and the 34 sports. The sounds, the interviews, and ISB's commitment to the highest quality of audio has allowed viewers to feel like they were there.

Local broadband was provided by Unity, under the auspices of the Birmingham-based WG Organizing Committee. Broadband for streaming to rightsholders was provided by Haivision, using the Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) open-source video-transport protocol. According to Romero, the use of
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