IBC2022: This Technical Paper looks at OBS’s adoption of 5.1.4 immersive audio at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.
Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) was created by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001 in order to serve as the Host Broadcast organisation for all Olympic Games, Olympic Winter Games and Youth Olympic Games. As Host Broadcaster, OBS is responsible for delivering the images, sounds and data of the Olympic Games that captivate billions of viewers worldwide. For the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, OBS produced for the first time the sounds across all of the sports and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in 5.1.4 immersive audio. This new native standard audio format was adopted as part of OBS’s transition to Ultra High Definition (UHD) High Dynamic Range (HDR).
• OBS produced the live coverage of two back-to-back Olympic Games less than six months apart
• OBS overcame numerous challenges caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, including operations and crowd restrictions
• Overall, OBS produced immersive audio for the live coverage of more than 100 sports events, relying ona team of 300 audio engineers and the support from hundreds of broadcast engineers and producers
• Additionally, OBS produced pre-Games content, including title sequences with music
The broadcast and film industries are arguably the central arena for immersive content creation and distribution.
The early adoption of immersive audio or tri-dimensionalsoundin cinema and TV series has been a game-changer, helping usher broadcasters into a new era for sound. Over the past decade, the broadcast industry has been exploring the new opportunities offered by Next-Generation Audio (NGA). The emergence of a few ground-breaking immersive audio technologies and listening experiences (Dolby Atmos, MPEG-H, DTS:X, VR/AR, AI), together with the continuous development of multi-channel sound techniques and roll-out of new audio codecs, has contributed to reshaping the landscape of this field, accelerating the mass market adoption of immersive audio with plenty of home sound devices now available that are capable of reproducing immersive audio.
In live sports production, immersive audio first debuted in football leagues before undergoing further experimentation in the coverage of other sports events. With its long track record in pioneering broadcast innovations and aiming at delivering high-quality content, OBS decided to adopt 5.1.4 immersive audio as its new audio standard with its transitionto UHD HDR production for the host broadcast of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.
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