Big Screen Network Delivers HD to Olympic Venues

Big Screen Network provided technical and production support for on-site video boards at Olympic Games in Athens, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and Torino. For the Vancouver Games, BSN is once again bringing its expertise and, for the first time, doing it all in HD.

The BSN team is working closely with the Sports Production Team for the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), with BSN staff and crew producing and directing all video-board and ribbon-board content at 13 locations, including the Whistler Medals Plaza. A master-control operation has been created at the main media center at Vancouver’s convention center. According to BSN President/CEO Paul Kalil, the master-control operation has two edit systems, which work with the broadcasters for highlight footage, and BSN “compiles everything from overnight shows that are hosted in English and French to short segments, which are sent [via CATV] to every venue.”

In addition to being the first Games where all boards are HD, the 2010 productions mark the first time that everything is tapeless. “Everything is on [Panasonic] P2 cards or digitally presented,” says Kalil. “It’s an easier, simpler way to transfer information back and forth from the venues. It’s a lot better to do it that way.”

Although some of the venues had boards and ribbons in place, the majority of the screens have been brought to the games by Panasonic, which is also supplying cameras, switchers, P2 cameras, and playback decks. A ClickEffects CrossFire database system is in place at each venue.

Material for the board programs is “completely unique, original content,” says Kalil. BSN and VANOC have been working together for over a year. “BSN worked with the Organizing Committee and their brand and creative departments to come up with a graphics package for all of the video screens.” The company produces all the content, “everything from great moments to games to athlete profiles, player headshots, and chronicles of past games,” he explains. “There are literally thousands of segments that we’ve created.”

To support the production, BSN employs about 100 people. Kalil says 35 are “brought in as directors, some key camera people, some editors and producers who work in our master-control operation at the main media center.” The balance of the crew is hired locally.

At each venue, a VANOC producer works with BSN’s video board director and crew. Material fed from the media center is used at each venue at the producer’s discretion.

While BSN has handled video-board duties for such events as the BCS Championship, Super Bowl, the Olympic Games, and the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games are among its longest-term efforts, comparable with BSN’s role in the FIFA World Cup, says Kalil.

Following the Vancouver events, BSN will turn its attention to the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships.

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