IBC is ready for Winter Games

The International Broadcast Center at the Winter Olympics will once again be the United Nations of broadcasting, as 80 broadcast organizations and their 6,000 employees bring the action to viewers around the globe.

The job of getting the facility up and running fell once again to International Sports Broadcasting. Led by CEO Manolo Romero, the company is responsible for ensuring that the technical facilities at the venues and at the IBC in Salt Lake City run smoothly.

According to ISB Director of Publications and Information Matt Mason, while Salt Lake City is the largest city to ever host a Winter Games, the layout is actually very compact. All the venues are within 60 miles of downtown and are relatively easy to get to. This is in stark contrast to sites of previous Games, such as Albertville, France.

Construction on the 300,000-square-foot IBC began Aug. 21. It was done in three phases, and some of the broadcasters began arriving in December to check into their offices. Some of the smaller broadcasters will wait until early February to check in.

Beyond the IBC, there are the venues. More than 25 production trucks from around North America will provide host broadcast production facilities. The units contain all the equipment needed to do the productions, including a variety of cameras from Sony, Thompson, Ikegami and Panasonic. Lenses will depend on what is on the truck but, according to Mason, will be primarily Fujinon and Canon.

Inside the IBC, Panasonic DVCPRO 50 VTRs, laptop editors and edit controllers will have a large presence. Also on hand will be Chyron Max, Infinit and Duets for character generation, a Telex/RTS intercom, and a mix of Panasonic and Ikegami monitors. Fiber transmission will be handled by Telecast Fiber and Force Technology.

"In covering the Games, we'll use more than 400 cameras, including approximately 100 hand-held, 73 fixed, 18 super-slow-motion, 25 cranes, two helicopters, three snowmobiles and one pop-up mount for the sledding events," says Mason. "Broadcasters wishing to enhance the multilateral coverage produced by ISB may also request to place their own cameras at the venue."

The outgoing signals from the mobile units terminate at the Technical Operations Center in the compound for distribution to the Rights Holding Broadcasters and are transported by fiber-optic link to the IBC. An optical-fiber SONET ring is used to send signals from the venues to the IBC.

Five venues will be ready for HDTV, according to Mason: the Salt Lake Ice Center (figure skating and short-track speed skating), Utah Olympic Oval (speed skating), E Center (one of two ice-hockey venues), Utah Olympic Park (ski jumping and Nordic combined), and Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium (opening and closing ceremonies). Overall, 22 HDTV cameras will be dedicated across the venues, with a number of other cameras shared.