Riedel implements live production tech at Invictus Games

The Invictus Games is an international multi-sport event first held in 2014 for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veterans. After having been postponed once, the sixth edition of the games – held at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in the western German city of Düsseldorf – went ahead in September, and Riedel Communications was on hand to implement an array of cutting-edge live production technologies to bring the event to life.

Under the motto ‘A Home For Respect,’ the city, together with the German Armed Forces, welcomed around 500 competitors from 21 nations as well as around 1,000 family members and friends to compete in ten disciplines.

This year’s edition of the games was a critical event for Riedel Communications, being the first time that all three of its core technology offerings – Riedel Networks, Managed Technology and Simplylive Production Suite – were combined and operated in unison. During the games, Riedel worked with International Sports Broadcasting (ISB), a well known host broadcaster in the sports market, to satisfy all the necessary production requirements.

ISB needed a way to ingest all their incoming feeds to a central storage, where everybody involved would have internal access to production, quality control, post production and editing. One essential requirement was for the local sports presentation team committee to have access to all live content, so they could then cut their own programme and play this out on the in-stadium monitors.

“It was a very interesting and fairly complex workflow,” Harry Kapros, Business Director EMEA, Live Production at Riedel Communications, tells Headliner. “On the ingest side, ISB was using a main and a backup server system to do a baseband ingest of all the different video content, such as Sport Sessions, highlights, melt reels, ceremonies and press conferences. ISB had a very experienced archive team that was scheduling and managing all the incoming feeds, properly clipping them according to production needs and putting them in the right position, naming them correctly, and storing everything in a central shared storage. This was then made available within the different production teams to be used in post-production, for making highlights, promos and other production content. As is tradition, ISB also produced a summary of the Games, which is a beautiful video montage of everything that happened there.”

Except for the ingest functionality, this dual Simplylive Production Suite offering was also used as a playout solution to play content live on air. On top of this, Riedel put together a group of four additional video servers that were able to offer video mixing, audio mixing, ingest, playout, slomo and graphics functionalities for Sports Presentation, while having access to the ISB shared production storage for live content.

Riedel’s comprehensive experience providing comms for large-scale events gave the Host Broadcaster a lot of confidence when it came to the production of the Games, allowing them to let aside the technical aspect and focus on the creative.

“The main advantage of our system is that you can use the same piece of hardware to combine different functions that are being processed at the same time,” explains Kapros. “What is important nowadays is that people consume so much content and always want more; what we can address with Simplylive Production Suite in general is a complete ecosystem for different kinds of events. Of course, we work on tier one events, but there's also so much content in tier two and tier three events which was not possible to get on the air with good broadcast quality before.

“With our all-in-one solution we can help to create a multitude of content, whether that be via on prem, cloud or hybrid production. For us, it doesn't matter where the actual software is running, because we can tackle all the different technologies seamlessly in the same way.”

On the Managed Technology side, Riedel implemented a Diva network for transporting all data, intercom, video and audio to all stakeholders, as Felix Demandt, Senior Project Manager at Riedel, explains:

“The most important thing to consider for events such as the Invictus Games is data, so it was clear from the beginning that we would run a big fibre network with our MediorNet and Diva technologies.

“Communication is of course also key, so radios were needed for almost everyone who was involved. We supplied a comprehensive Bolero wireless intercom system so that, for example, RF cameras working in close proximity could communicate from one venue to another, as well as to the different OB trucks. We often use tetra-based radio systems to ensure complete coverage for all talk groups, of which the Invictus Games had a huge amount. The flexibility of the all in one system allows the network to be scaled on-site at the click of a mouse.”

Another interesting feature of Riedel’s offering in this case was a smart motion detection line that was implemented around the venue using CCTV cameras, allowing organisers to see who was moving in and out of the venue at all times, even during the night.

“If someone is asking to hear a programme feed from SDI video that we are getting from a broadcast or an intercom, it is not a problem for us, because we can take the audio out of the video feed and send it to the headset of the intercom,” says Demandt. “I think this is one of the biggest benefits, because we can deliver all our services via one system that is all interconnected.”

“Depending on the size of the event, making sure you can offer everything in a very short period of time, where a lot of people who may not have worked together are involved, is absolutely key,” adds Kapros. “We were working with some very experienced people during the games; we had our pre-meetings and everyone was aligned from the start, so I think everything went very smoothly as expected.

“It was one of those events where we were just happy to see happy faces. We ticked all the boxes really successfully, and we're very much looking forward to working on the next edition of the Invictus Games. I’ve already had a chat with ISB about the next event, so I guess we did something very well!”