, a unit of the Vitec Group’s Services Division and a leading worldwide provider of broadcast services and solutions, supported more sports broadcasts than any other summer in its history, successfully providing major broadcasters with equipment and engineering expertise during the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship (Euro 2012), 2012 Summer Olympics, 2012 Summer Paralympics and 2012 U.S. Open. Working together with SOS Global Express, the team (and equipment) traveled more than 12,000 miles in three months.
“Every two years we anticipate the challenges and logistics required for the Olympics,” says Joe Wire, vice president, global enterprise accounts, Bexel. “This year posed a unique test for us, as the Summer Olympics and Paralympics took place directly in between the Euro 2012 championship in Warsaw, Poland, and the U.S. Open in New York—all while we were engaged with various other events. Not only did we have to take staffing into consideration, but also equipment, as each production required unique solutions and freight logistics.”
For maximum efficiency, Bexel employed a core infrastructure for all four events. The flypacks that traveled across the U.S. and Europe included Evertz EQX, EMR and Xenon routers, Sony HDC-2500 cameras and EVS XT3 video servers. As the Evertz EQX and EMR routers are highly scalable, Bexel was able to use them to meet the various different inputs and type of signals (50hz vs. 60hz and multiple HD formats) required for each event. The Sony HDC-2500 cameras, part of the flypacks for the Olympics and U.S. Open, captured superior images for Bexel clients. The EVS XT3 six-channel production servers, featuring 900-GB drives, armed Bexel and its clients with the most robust server technology available. They served as the backbone of the technical infrastructure, allowing Bexel clients to capture, edit, play back and export media from the events in a seamless fashion. In addition, the EVS internal IT infrastructure enabled Bexel to create a diverse production computer network, with the ability to interface with many of today’s file-based infrastructures. With the Olympics, for example, Bexel networked XT3’s with multiple EVS IP Directors and Avid edit platforms, creating a seamless production workflows. The company showed similar ingenuity when it came to signal routing for the Euro 2012 event, routing signals from multiple locations in Warsaw, the Ukraine and network broadcast centers in the U.S.
Considering there was more than 200,000 pounds of gear shipped from the U.S. to London prior to the games, Bexel worked with SOS Global Express, a full-service freight forwarder with extensive experience in time-sensitive large-bulk movements. Starting in May, more than 30 days ahead of the start of the European Championships, several 53’ air-ride tractor-trailers moved equipment from Bexel’s Dallas Hub to SOS Global’s terminal in New Jersey. From there, via ocean containers, the equipment was shipped to Warsaw for its initial European deployment. Bexel also utilized cargo aircraft to transport more delicate electronics two weeks prior to the Championships. Through careful planning, precise customs documentation and thorough execution, the equipment arrived in Warsaw as expected.
Following the conclusion of the Euro 2012 championship, Bexel and SOS ensured a successful delivery of the equipment needed for the games from Warsaw to London, in addition to supplementary equipment shipping from Bexel’s Burbank headquarters. The engineering teams then began the process of building and integrating six production control rooms, three large EVS networks, eight Avid and Final Cut Pro edit rooms, multiple media manager stations and the deployment of 60+ Panasonic P2-based ENG packages. “It was certainly a team effort to ensure all the equipment was packed, loaded and unloaded efficiently,” adds Wire.
After the closing ceremonies, the team struck the production gear and prepared the items to be loaded onto a chartered 747 freighter aircraft for the tight one-day turnaround to the US Open. “As much as 80,000 pounds of gear was moved from London to New York and we knew that this was another one of those ‘failure-is-not-an-option’ type of situations,” says Stephen O’Connell, SOS Global. “We had to pull gear from five different locations in the London area and consolidate them all at one location for the flight. Everything was going according to schedule until the aircraft developed a brake problem in Turkey, on its way to London. Luckily, it was solved the morning of the day we were to fly from London.”
SOS Global’s London office worked closely with the U.K. and U.S. Customs to ensure there would be no holdups and to allow the team to make aggressive deadlines and set up a process that was satisfactory to both organizations. “Within 90 minutes of the flight taking off, we had U.S. clearance for everything in the air. The plane left London Thursday at noon and arrived in New York the same afternoon. The first equipment was delivered to the US Open on Thursday evening,” adds O’Connell. From there, the Bexel operations team inventoried the equipment once again and created delivery schedules for its clients.
The remaining gear stayed in London for the Paralympics. “This was a much bigger event than in past years,” explains Johnny Pastor, director, Bexel. “The level of equipment we provided was of the caliber of the Summer Olympic games—including 22 ENG packages and flypack systems to help capture table tennis, volleyball sitting, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.”
Bexel also provided super slo-mo packages, 40 fiber cameras, lenses and EVS systems. “A lot of the equipment was already in place at the Olympics; however, we reconfigured select facilities and relocated flypacks. We had a staff of eight engineers and four support personnel on site to make this rewarding event come together seamlessly,” notes Pastor.
At the US Open compound in Flushing, New York, the Bexel team put together a complete production package featuring 22 EVS XT3 production servers with 12 logging stations, one media manager station with nine EVS XFile2s, three full-HD control rooms, seven Avid Symphony edit rooms, support for four VIZRT graphics workstations, two Chyron HyperX graphic workstations and an integrated fiber network throughout the USTA compound. In addition, Bexel deployed 19 engineers to support the 24-hour production environment.
“Our success can really be measured by the consistency and scalability we provide,” concludes Wire. “When we build a flypack, it can do a two-camera or a 30-camera show. So for these events we took the package we’ve offered for the US Open for the past three years and scaled it to grow for London and downsized it for the Euro 2012 championship, all featuring the same core equipment. The same goes for our engineers: depending on the scale of the event, you can have one person running it or three, and then potentially six or seven based on what they need to accomplish.”
O’Connell says success really comes down to great teamwork. “Working on major events with Bexel for more than 20 years has allowed us to build teams that work together very well,” he notes. “Our teams on the ground in London were in contact the weeks and months prior and we worked side-by-side in London the three days after the closing ceremonies to ensure all went smoothly for everyone involved.”