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Discussion Starter #1
I have created a blog to document my time in Torino working as and engineer on the olympics broadcast. I hope my blog can help to clarify some of the technical concerns, and I have posted pictures I took today of some of the technical operation.


Please feel free to ask questions.



-Erik


Moderators Note: The blog is no longer available. Feel free to post here.
 

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Thanks for coming in here and give us an insight. We had something similar with folks from ABC for the MNF and the Superbowl.


How is NBC getting its feed from Torino?


Also did you guys have any control over the 5.1 setup and mix in different venues?

Like placement of mics?


Also I don't think your htread title reflects propelry. Maybe "Ask questions to NBC HD Broadcast Team"
 

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Good question about the surround. Yes, they do have control over the mix. In a live situation like this it's impossible to do much more than put crowd noise and music in the surrounds. All the commentary should be in the center. We do monitor the surround sound throughout the process, and Dolby labs is here to support us and setup our encoders, decoders, and calibrate our listening environment.


The feed home is via Tanberg MPEG encoder decoders via fiber. I can't say for sure the exact bit rate, but it is high, up around 80 Mbps. I have seen the tests, and it looked good.


I'll put something about that in the blog!
 

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Thank you very much for providing this behind the scenes look into the NBC Olympic operation. I appreciate your insights and look forward to further updates.
 

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From Eric's Blog:

Quote:
I can assure you that the HD feed coming out of Torino looks perfect. The US distribution system is complicated and picture quality will vary depending on your source.
Thank you for helping us understand the picture quality problem is in the US, not over there.
 

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Yes, it's very frustrating for those of us here that work so hard to make perfect pictures!
 

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Hey can you run over to the CBC people at give them a quick lesson on how to RECORD HD material. That and a quick lesson in broadcasting in stereo, followed by a primer in 5.1? Thanks! :p
 

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Thanks for offering to inform us! Since I don't generally get poor quality from NBC, but have noticed lots of issued during these Olympics, as well as the Summer Olympics, I can't help but think that something inherent to the process is at work, rather than a problem necessarily inherent to local distribution. The only such issue I can think of would be perhaps the framerate conversion from 50-60hz. Is everything captured at 50hz? Just feeds from non-NBC cameras? If there IS a 50-60hz conversion, where does that happen?


The audio, however, could easily be a local problem, as my local affiliate has consistently had problems providing a proper 5.1 mix (missing center channel is quite common, and this seems to be a widespread problem among NBC affiliates). I don't think I've heard anything from the rears once during the Olympics. The bad sound during the opening ceremonies, however, seemed pretty widespread.
 

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From Millimeter's HD Focus


Sony Electronics is providing a range of high-definition broadcast and production systems for NBC's coverage of the 2006 Winter Games this month in Torino, Italy.


The Sony HD equipment to be used by NBC includes studio cameras, camcorders, switchers, VTRs, monitors, videoconferencing systems, and professional videotape. These products will be used by NBC in an array of applications during the Torino Games, from the International Broadcast Center (IBC) to individual athletic venues.


"With each successive Games, the broadcast requirements increase in scope and complexity," said David Mazza, senior vice president of engineering, NBC. "The conversion to an all HD broadcast center for the 2006 Winter Games has been tremendously challenging. To assemble this much new equipment all running at HD-SDI rates approaching microwave frequencies is a rather daunting task."


Sony's HDC-1000 multi-format 1080/60P portable cameras will capture the action at the Main Broadcast Center as well as several venues, sending signals to Sony's MVS-8000A and MFS-2000 video production switchers.


The HDCAM HDW-730S camcorder will also be used for field acquisition. In NBC's operations center, several types of Sony VTRs will be used, including the HDCAM HDW-M2000, HDW-D2000 and the SRW-5500 professional models.


NBC is using 70 of Sony's BVM-D HD mastering monitors, which display each input signal at its native frequency and resolution with an extremely high degree of color accuracy. Models being used include the BVM-D14H5U, BVM-D20F1U, BVM-D24E1WU and BVM-D32E1WU units.


NBC is also employing more than 300 LUMA professional LCD monitors, including Sony's latest line of two-piece multi-format monitors. This series of LUMA monitors features Sony's patented ChromaTru color processing technology, which enables multiple monitors to quickly achieve nearly identical color characteristics using programmed color shifts that match EBU, SMPTE-C, or ITU color standards.


More than 150 LUMA LMD-9050 9in. (viewable area, measured diagonally) multi-format field monitors will be used due to their HD-SDI interface, which makes them well suited for HD field production.


Other Sony broadcast gear being used during NBC's coverage of the Torino Games include: the MSW-M2000 MPEG IMX VTR; DSR-1500, JH-1, JH-3, and J-30 VTRs; HDSX-5800 router; and the BRC-300 robotic camera. A Sony PCS-G50 videoconferencing system will also be used by NBC.


To keep everything running until the closing ceremonies, Sony's professional services team has assembled an extensive network of resources to support the NBC coverage. Sony's Device Monitor system will allow NBC to centrally monitor the status of equipment to proactively troubleshoot and minimize production downtime during NBC's broadcast of the Games.
 

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Topic title edited.
 

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All of the production equipment is 50hz. It is converted to 60 just before it is sent back to NY. I have worked with these converters for a while now, and they are very good. You may notice some slight blur during quick pans, but it really shouldn't be much of a problem.


It sure wish I could see things from your end. We do have a return feed from NBC-4 in NY to the IBC and it looks fine during the Olympics coverage. Some macroblocking, but nothing I wouldn't expect. I don't know how the return feed is provided to us though, so I can't comment on where that macroblocking happens.


I wish we could get the NBC feed in our media village,... we have lots of american programming, but all in other languages!


You should hear crowd noise out of the rear during events.
 

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Eric,


To add to the other comments, thanks for taking the time to provide this great information.


Best regards,

Ken
 

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Very interesting stuff. Thanks for letting us in.


Can you offer an explanation for why the DD5.1 audio levels from Torino are so low? Commercials are about 7-10db louder than content, and content is 7-15db lower than other channels which consistently provide stunning DD5.1 quality on their top shows (e.g. ABC with "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives", and CBS with "CSI: Original").


Is the problem there, or here? Is it in the final mix fed to the US out of NY, or is it in the raw feed that the host provider gives to you for sending back overseas to us via fiber?


Is NBC aware of the DD5.1 audio problem over here?


In contrast, the hockey DD5.1 audio over on UHD is fabulous. Can't explain why, if the host feed is the same.


Venue problems?
 

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The audio on this end is good, it's not a venue problem. We mix our own audio, so it has nothing to do with the host feed.


Since I don't work on the other side, I don't want to do any finger pointing,.. but...


The audio is usually sent around broadcast facilities as discreet channels with meta data. Among other things, the meta data has information for how the dolby encoders/decoders should mix and normalize things. So there are lots of places for things to go wrong here. Dolby E is often used within a facility, encoded, then decoded on the receiving end. Before it gets to you it is encoded again to DD. Isn't this digital world wonderful?


If the program level is low, and the commercials are hot,.... (why they don't QC this is beyond me). Are you talking about local commercials, or national spots? I would only be taking guesses here. Sorry.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ErikU
The audio on this end is good, it's not a venue problem. We mix our own audio, so it has nothing to do with the host feed.
Is there much .1 in the mix? Some members have a .1 meter that is showing very little in the LFE (low frequency effects) channel.
 

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Is the same equipment you have used for HD transmission to Burbank for Jay Leno? Last Friday, Ross the Intern and Tom Green looked great in HD from Torino; this is in contrast to SD 16:9 domestic live (to Leno) shots, like correspondents in Detroit for the SuperBowl or even a few miles in LA for the Golden Globes. Leno's correspondents get HD shots from another country but not within the USA.
 

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I checked the local station here (KNBC) using a LM100 and the dialnorm is -22db. This is the lowest of all the networks here. KCBS: -31db, KABC: -27db, KTTV(Fox): -25db. The audio level itself on KNBC went from -21db peaks to -28db. On the other networks it was typically at the dialnorm value to around 4-5 db higher.


Overall the HD PQ is very good to me.
 
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