BBC Resources is teaming up with BBC Sport to provide bespoke coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics for viewers in the UK.

It has aided Siemens in the design of a multiplatform facility within the International Broadcast Centre and will provide post and studio staff during the games.

Supplementing the host broadcast feed, Resources and SIS Outside Broadcasts will also provide camera and presentation positions for dedicated coverage of sports with British interest.

The main coverage of the Games will be provided by Beijing Olympic Broadcasting (BOB).

The BBC is broadcasting 300 hours of coverage of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games this year on BBC1 and BBC2, plus 2,450 hours on BBCi, as well as Online, Radio, News, Nations and Regions and CBBC. There will also be live coverage on the BBC's HD Channel.

For Dave Gordon, BBC Sport's head of major events, and his team out in Beijing, the biggest challenge isn't the fact they are doubling the hours of TV coverage from the last Olympics in Athens - it's being able to meet audience expectations in a multimedia world.

"We have to put ourselves in the shoes of our audience and give them what they want," said Gordon. "And that means very much a 2008 look at what they want. The way the new media has mushroomed in the last four years means that we now have to think about the website, broadband, video clips, mobiles, iPlayer, as well as just TV and radio. Applying that to the Olympics makes it a much more complex challenge.

In detail

BOB will be responsible for producing the international venue coverage and delivering the signals (totalling around 91) to the IBC. BOB will then deliver an international signal package, comprising 44 feeds, to rights-holding broadcasters and unions in the IBC - in the BBC's case, via European Broadcasting Union (EBU) facilities.

The entire event coverage will be HD for the first time although there will be some SD contributions upconverted from remote sites.

There will be parallel transmission in HD and SD and all live event coverage on the BBC's HD Channel will be carried in 5.1 surround sound.

The IBC facility

The main BBC studio will be in near by Ling Long Pagoda and will provide spectacular views of the main stadium and Olympic Green.

The BBC's space at the IBC comprises 1500m2 and includes TV, Interactive (BBCi), Online, Radio, News and Nations and Regions. The facility includes, production offices, an HD production control suite and an Interactive control room, managing the output of a further seven streams of video being sent to London, where they can be accessed by BBC Online to repurpose packages for web and mobile phones.

The post production area houses 18 edit suites, two large server systems, plus connectivity to the Host broadcaster server and venues. Feeds from the Host EVS server and logging operation will feed into the BBC's EVS media server, which will also support fast turn around editing.

The BBC's EVS server will be fully integrated with an Avid ISIS server on site, with file based transfers enabling packages to be edited and features to be made while feeds are coming in.

Siemens is providing project management for the IBC build, as well as the BBC's National Stadium facility construction and is contracting Gearhouse Broadcast as Systems Integrators.

The Venues

In addition to 44 feeds from the Host Broadcaster the BBC will have a significant unilateral presence with its own cameras and presentation positions.

This will allow the broadcaster to cover the stories of the UK athletes competing in sports where there is a key British interest. In this, the BBC is supported by SIS Outside Broadcasts, formerly BBC Outside Broadcasts.

The largest of the unilateral operations is at the main National Stadium, where a fully HD OB operation, complete with its own server based post operation, is being built into cabins for the ceremonies and track and field events.

The BBC has a potential live presence at a further 13 venues. At Qingdao for the sailing, Shunyi for the rowing and Hong Kong for the equestrian events, BBC production resources are more concentrated, so there will be dedicated BBC Post Production edit cabins at the venues, as well as additional presentation and cameras for behind the scenes interviews.

Facts and Figures

  • There will be 44 feeds from the Host Broadcaster providing 3800 hours of footage.

  • The BBC's EVS server will store up to 1000 hours of HD content

  • There will be 18 edit suites at the BBC's IBC facility in Beijing

  • There will be 16 logging stations at BBC Television Centre in London

  • BBCi is sending back 7 streams of video from Beijing to London

  • The BBC has a potential live presence at 14 venues

  • There will be 8 P2 camera teams in operation

  • More than 200Mb/s of fibre are being used to transport signals between Beijing and London.

  • Live 5.1 sound on BBC HD Channel