Sat.1 Transmits UEFA Champions League Final in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
For years, the UEFA Champions League has made games in 5.1 surround sound available to broadcasters. A broadcast innovator, the Champions League has successfully implemented numerous technological advancements into their broadcasts, including the use of the fast-moving overhead CamCat cameras, HD video, 3D video, and Dolby® Digital Plus audio. Broadcasters who want to transmit the Champions League games in the highest-quality surround sound require technologies such as Dolby E and Dolby Digital Plus, which enable multichannel audio contribution from live events.
The example described here is one of the German satellite company Sat.1’s first exclusive free-TV transmissions of a Champions League game, where Dolby E and Dolby Digital Plus were essential to the successful production and broadcast.
To pick up the sound of ball kicks and close-up action, the number of gun-mics around the pitch was increased. Six identical mics were added on either side of the pitch and one behind each goal post.
The main ambience was captured using semi-ORTF stereo mic pairs, pointing to the crowd. A semicoincident stereo pair of additional ambience mics (“side-fillers”) was placed behind each goal post, facing the crowd. Also, a combination of an omnidirectional mic (for “distant” de-correlated audience ambience feedback) and a semicoincident stereo pair were more closely positioned toward the main stand audience, both panned into the rear.
Mix and Delivery
Two distinct mix groups, Crowd and Sport, went through independent frequency and dynamics processing chains, and were then combined with the commentary and any other background music and FX.
An initial rough mix was prepared in the outside broadcast (OB) truck before being relayed to the broadcast center via a redundant dual link over fiber-optic and satellite using Dolby E as a professional audio distribution format on a standard AES-3 pair. (Alternatives such as distributing discrete PCM audio as three embedded audio pairs within an HD-SDI video signal were made available, as many professional equipment manufacturers support both methods, including the handling of the important metadata.) The metadata embedded within Dolby E is designed to interface directly with the Dolby Digital Plus format.
Further processing in terms of Dolby E decoding was performed in Sat.1’s broadcast center in order to prepare the audio for transmission. The Dolby E metadata specification allows the carriage of metadata outside of the Dolby E format. Therefore, contribution via multichannel PCM would achieve a similar result, and also allow a complete audio and metadata connection to the transmission encoder equipment.
The end result for Sat.1 was excellent-quality surround sound that heightened the experience for its audience watching Champions League soccer. By using Dolby E and Dolby Digital Plus, this same experience can be achieved by any broadcaster today wishing to offer audio quality equivalent to Blu-ray™ HD or 3D content.