Amsterdam ArenA is home to one of continental Europe’s biggest football clubs, AFC Ajax, and it’s also now home to Blackmagic’s MultiView 16 and two Smart Videohub 40×40 video routers.
As part of a significant upgrade to the stadium’s AV technology, Amsterdam ArenA now features a production system that should help it perform more efficiently. The stadium was already struggling to keep up with its chaotic production schedule; three in-house television channels produced out of the production facilities by Ajax Media.
Ajax Media produces three in-house television channels during live games, including a live feed of the match action taken from the league’s host broadcaster, mixed with bespoke sponsor logos and public transport information. Ajax Media itself operates three pitch-side cameras, a PTZ camera in the press room and two fixed cameras in the players’ tunnel to produce a second channel.
These channels are narrowcast to 650 HD/UHD screens around the ArenA and two giant pitch-side LED displays. Additionally, Ajax Media produces content for the club’s web page, for AjaxTV and the Ajax mobile app. A third in-house channel is used for specialist content during the ArenA’s host of UEFA matches for distribution to VIP zones.
Signals from all the Ajax Media cameras are now routed through a Blackmagic Design MultiView 16 and to a Blackmagic Design Smart Videohub 40 x 40 before onward connection to a video switcher. The ArenA’s Smart Videohub is mirrored by a second identical unit at Ajax Media’s facility for post-production of content.
“The MultiView 16 allows for four, nine, or 16 views to be selected, with each input fully re-synchronised,” explains Tim Oosterop, the ArenA’s production manager. “Outputs include four to the giant video screens around the stadia, three for the in-house channels, four for slow-motion, one to Ajax Media, three to the OB van area and one each to the narrowcasting system and recording device.
“What’s great about the MultiView 16 is that we have control over the outputs of the system. Since we usually require more than 15 outputs at any point during a match we need to switch some of them to the Videohub. With both the MultiView and Videohub we are always sure that the right signal goes to the right output.
“This is especially important for concerts and other live events where we are not necessarily working with regular partners and we are unsure what format we will receive signals in.”
AV signals are distributed via coax in the stadia, which was built 20 years ago, and over a mix of coax and triax from outside broadcast vans. The next big modernising infrastructure project will see the ArenA switch over to a video over IP network, something that Tim is actively researching.
“One of the problems with managing and distributing video around such a large facility is that cable lengths, and therefore latency of the video, becomes a real issue,” Tim concludes. “We have an IP network covering every room in the stadium, so it would be great if we could use that to distribute high quality video signals in the future.”