Yann Figuet, Partner at FreeLens, explains how the production company deployed the latest tech from Blackmagic Design to up its game in the latest Euro Meet competition.

This year’s Euro Meet swimming competition, held annually in Luxembourg, acted as a qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics, with more than 100 teams and 600 athletes descending on the National Sports and Culture Centre d’Coque. Dozens of races, including morning qualifiers and evening finals, took place across three days from 26-28 January.


Euro Meet: FreeLens were responsible for capturing and broadcasting the event

Production company FreeLens was responsible for capturing and broadcasting the event on behalf of the Luxembourg Swimming and Lifesaving Federation. “The Federation first asked us to produce the international signal seven years ago,” explains Yann Figuet, Partner at FreeLens. “This was on a different quality level to what we have now; it was just three cameras and a live stream. But over the years the event has become quite famous and the 2024 edition was qualifying for the upcoming summer Olympics.”

Now, FreeLens produces a signal for the federation as the rights holder, which then delivers it to various live stream channels and broadcasters. “Depending on the needs, it could be through Eurovision Sport, or it could be directly to TV channels,” adds Figuet. “This year, as Luxembourg is the headquarters of RTL television, we delivered them the signal and they broadcast it on their channels. We also sent it to Swedish television and produced a point-to-point live stream so each of the broadcasters could grab the live stream and broadcast it.”

To achieve this, FreeLens relies on a setup centred around Blackmagic Design hardware, and has done so for the past four years, but this wasn’t always the case.

“We started with basic professional but non-broadcast requirements from the federation,” says Figuet. “Then one year they asked us to meet broadcast-level specifications, so we hired a traditional OB unit, but they didn’t have the budget to continue this.” It was at this point that FreeLens introduced the federation and Eurovision to Blackmagic Design.

Achieving international standards

“The requirement was to produce the event on a lower budget than other events but do it with the same quality in the end,” he says. “Luxembourg is a small country so the budget of a federation in a country of 600,000 people cannot be the same as France with 65 million people; it’s completely different.”


Euro Meet: This year the Euro Meet acted as a qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics

While budget continues to be a factor in the production, there are still strict creative requirements that must be met and FreeLens continually looks to innovate to attract and engage viewers.

“You have to stick to the standards and the minimum requirements in terms of the number of cameras and their positions to be sure that the race is well-covered and you see each of the starts properly,” he explains.

In addition, FreeLens has added underwater cameras, wireless cameras to capture the introductions of finalists and podiums, and for the first time this year, augmented reality graphics, which Figuet believes is the “next step to achieving this broadcast quality.”

Production setup

The production and workflow have been largely consistent since 2019. The portable production unit includes the eight cameras required by the league, which are URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 equipped with either a standard or a box lens for closeups, along with seven Blackmagic Camera Fibre/Studio Fibre Converters and an ATEM Constellation 8K live production switcher.


Euro Meet: In addition to eight main cameras, FreeLens TV also employed the Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K

Two directors were on-site for the event this year. The broadcast director utilised an ATEM 2 M/E Advanced Panel 20 for the broadcast signal, while a second director with an ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel produced content for the LED walls to keep the crowd informed and engaged. These walls also showcased extra content such as slow motion and additional video content to entertain the crowd.

In addition to the eight main cameras, FreeLens TV also employed the Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K.

“We have five of those,” adds Figuet. “For the scoring, we have two fixed wide shots: one of the start line and one of the finish line. We work with a graphics/timing company and insert a graphic with names and results on each lane of the pool. We also have a camera handling beauty shots for the start list and results, as well as two cameras shooting underwater through windows, so they’re dry.”

The 35-strong FreeLens TV team produced coverage of both the morning and evening sessions. The morning qualifiers had the four-camera minimum setup to capture a live stream, while the full production workflow was in place for the finals. Around 6-8 hours of content per day was captured in what can be hot and humid conditions. A highlights package was also created each evening by the slow-motion team.

Reflecting on the resulting broadcast, Figuet enthuses, “We got very nice feedback from ministers [the federation is subsidised by the Ministry of Sport], the league, and the national federation. They are very happy with the quality of what we delivered. I think we achieved our goal because each year we have more broadcasters, and everyone is super happy with the broadcast.”