Tour de France and Deutschland Tour – ARD archives material from cycling on Silent Bricks
Saarländischer Rundfunk is responsible for broadcasting the international cycling events on ARD. The recordings are archived on Silent Bricks by FAST LTA.
For the French, Le Tour is a term like Christmas and Easter. Although the last French winner of the Tour de France was celebrated in 1985, the enthusiasm for this sports event is unbroken and almost equals a religious worship. The event is also followed with great interest in Germany. Most recently with a quota of 10 percent and almost 2 million viewers who followed the live broadcast on ARD in 2018. Responsible for reporting is Saarländische Rundfunk, which covers all international cycling events, including the Deutschland Tour, in the ARD‘s public broadcasting network. Stefan Krieger has been with ARD for over 30 years and is now responsible for technical management and planning. The recently increasing amount of data couldn‘t be archived in some cases. The film is shot on XDCAM HD 422, but the discs are too small at 128 gigabytes for archiving the extensive material. In order to be prepared for future seasons, the decision was made to purchase a compact and mobile system – the Silent Brick System from FAST LTA. On a Silent Brick with 16 TB net capacity a complete year of cycling can be archived.
Cycling is a special sport. Unlike football or skiing, spectators don‘t have to drive directly to an event location. The event passes by the spectators and is free of charge – usually in summer and in the most beautiful landscapes. This is probably part of the fascination that applies in particular to the Tour de France. The fact that there are also scandals and little ones is a further aspect if one wants to explain the myth. „There are also over 18 million cyclists in Germany who are fascinated by the top sporting performances,“ says Stefan Krieger, Technical Director for Cycling at Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR). He himself has been with the sport for 30 years and became acquainted with all the ups and downs of the sport during this time. Another special feature is that the cycling events take place every year and not only every 4 years, like world championships or Olympic Games. That makes the events for the fans a fixed part of the year – like Christmas and birthdays. Stefan Krieger started as an editor. As time went by, the tasks grew and he is currently responsible for all the technology needed for the live broadcast and the supporting activities, such as interviews and cuttings for the sports show. „We always had to be very flexible,“ he says in retrospect. „With the digitalization, however, the challenges have risen disproportionately.“ This applies in particular to the archiving of recordings.
From tape to XDCAM
In the past, the tapes were transferred to the central archive after the events and then reused. Reports could be created with the necessary time. Due to the increase in shots and cameras, as well as the growing demand for background material, the need for memory has also risen. Until recently, Stefan Krieger and his colleagues stored the content to be archived on XDCAM. With a capacity of 128 gigabytes, only a maximum of 5 hours of footage could be stored per disc. At a three-week event, the number of discs quickly added up to as many as 60 discs. Since the amount of data will continue to expand, a new solution had to be found.
A year of cycling on a Silent Brick
Stefan Krieger and his colleagues from SR Technik carried out a needs analysis together with the system house Media Online, which specialises in solutions for video and television. The aim was to provide as much footage as possible, as mobile as possible. The analysis of different storage systems quickly led to FAST LTA. Media Online is an Authorized Partner of FAST LTA and knows the systems of the Munich-based manufacturer very well. On the Silent Brick System, large amounts of data can be stored on offline-capable modules, the Silent Bricks. These can then be safely transported individually. The readers, the Silent Brick Drives, can be mounted in any outside broadcast van in a space-saving manner with only one 19-inch height unit.
„The way this works is the same as with Betacam tapes in the past, but with dramatically higher capacity,“ says Stefan Krieger. When extrapolating the required memory size, it turned out that the 24 TB version (16 TB net with the highest security setting) of the Silent Brick could accommodate the recordings of an entire year of cycling. „So the system is tailor-made for our use,“ says a delighted Stefan Krieger. Since the XDCAM discs can now be omitted, the purchase of the Silent Bricks is even cheaper in comparison. In order to keep further data available, Saarländische Rundfunk decided to purchase two Silent Bricks because the Silent Brick Drive provides two slots. One Silent Brick is used for archiving the recordings, the other contains graphics, photos, music and jingles, which are regularly used for live broadcasts. Every year another Silent Brick is purchased and can be easily transported in the OB van or in the available case thanks to its small dimensions.
Complete footage on the go
Stefan Krieger is satisfied with the new deployment scenario. From now on, spectacular events and locations and interviews with winners and losers can be made directly available to the editors on site via keywording in the FESAD database, which is used across ARD. The viewers thus receive even more varied coverage of the popular sports events.