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.:. oozle.net > Behind the scenes > Six Nations rugby match
Six Nations rugby match
Posted: February 26th, 2008
Croke Park With so much sport on television these days it is easy to take it all for granted, but for every sports event beamed live into your home, there is a complex technological set-up in place at the sportsground ensuring that you don't miss any of the action, and ultimately to help ensure that the game can go on.

The Six Nations matches from Croke Park are a good example of this. But what type of technology does RTE use to bring these games to our screens?

First up is the outside broadcast van. This serves two main purposes. Firstly, it acts as a means of transport for all the equipment to and from the event. With multiple cameras, microphones, lights, monitors, and cabling to connect them all, even if they served no other purpose, outside broadcast vans would need to be quite big. In some cases, where a broadcaster regularly broadcasts from a ground, they may have a semi-permanent facility in place to minimize the transport requirements on match day. In other cases everything needs to be brought to and from the ground on the day. Croke Park would fall into the first category, but nonetheless, the OB van plays an important role.

This is due to the second purpose of the OB van - it acts as a standalone production suite, rigged with a wall of monitors displaying feeds from every camera at the event and allowing the director full control over the live broadcast in real time.

These vans therefore are neither cheap, nor simple.

OB van A state of the art OB van could be over 50 feet long, with an expanding trailer that can support 20 cameras, High Definition (HD) production switches, two separate production control areas for live and highlights broadcasts to be collated simultaneously, high-end audio and video mixers, and HD broadcast technology driving a roof-mounted satellite dish.

Typically such a van is divided into numerous parts, including the production control area, an audio engineering area, a video tape area (which are most likely digital these days), a video control area, where the exposure of all the cameras are controlled, and a transmission area.

In Croke Park, the OB van complements the in-stadium facilities RTE have in the Hogan Stand. These facilities where revamped along with the reconstruction of the stadium and would be leading edge compared to many stadiums around the world.

The biggest outside broadcasts are often not sports events - RTE's coverage of Election 2007 was unrivalled in its scale with truly nationwide coverage across a range of media such as television, radio and the internet. The same underlying technology would be used, though the nature of the broadcasts may not require high-end video or audio facilities.

RTE's outside broadcasts have made their mark on the world stage also , with events such as the Special Olympics and indeed the Eurovision Song Contest bringing their broadcasts to a worldwide audience.

Back on the rugby pitch, the introduction of Television Match Officials (TMOs) has brought added pressure on the broadcaster to get every available shot of the action and has in some cases shown that the technology used can influence the outcome of the match.

With the 2008 Six Nations looking like it might go down to the wire, let's hope technology does its job, without unduly influencing the result.





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