SuperSport is the premier sports broadcaster in South Africa, and owns the rights to most popular sports competitions.
While many South Africans may take these broadcasts for granted, providing high-quality, live coverage of sports matches is an incredibly complex and difficult task.
SuperSport invited MyBroadband to take a look behind the scenes as it broadcast a Super Rugby match between the Bulls and the Lions at Loftus Versveld.
Before the match, the truck is set up by the engineering team in a configuration which depends on the sport that will be broadcast. Different setups are required for different sports and competitions.
A document is sent to all parties subscribed to the SuperSport feed, indicating the exact times when the broadcast will start, when advert slots will be available, and when the broadcast will focus on specific elements such as player and referee profiles.
Any changes to the schedule are communicated to all parties during the broadcast.
The vision control team ensures that all camera footage is color balanced to look the same.
Factors such as time of day, seasons, sunlight coverage, and shadows must be taken into account to ensure that all footage remains consistent and is of a high quality.
Another dedicated team builds replay packages in real-time and presents these replay packages to the production team to mix into the live broadcast as they see fit.
The cameramen and the replay team must both be aware of the important aspects of the match so that relevant replay packages are developed.
Before the replay packages are mixed into the live broadcast, the commentary teams are notified which replay packages will be played.
The branding that appears on the field to broadcast viewers is not actually imprinted on the grass.
Instead, all branding and field signage is superimposed onto the pitch using augmented reality technology.
Important statistics are recorded during the match and added to the broadcast along with other information such as player names.
The production team can preview the footage being recorded by all cameras to ensure that it is focused on the right moments before it is used on the live broadcast.
The audio team installs microphones and cables throughout the stadium during the setup process.
This audio is controlled by a dedicated sound team during the broadcast to ensure that all sound – from the field, commentators, referees, TMO and crowd – is balanced correctly and is of good quality.
Putting it all together
The broadcast director, who is in charge of ensuring a smooth broadcast, is in communication with all relevant parties, including cameramen, commentators, sound technicians, the vision control team, and the replay department during the broadcast.
They must then mix all of these inputs into a smooth, professional broadcast.
By the time the broadcast signal reaches your home, it has traveled 56,000km from the stadium, through a runback system, before being captured at DStv and uploaded to the satellite uplink.