Every morning and evening, Australians are able to experience the Paralympic Games thanks to the coverage provided by ABCTV. Yesterday I was able to have a look behind the scenes with Head of Sport and Major Events Justin Holdforth as my guide.
Lucky for me, part of the behind the scenes tour deal was to pop in and say gidday to commentators Stephanie Brantz (the walking sports encyclopedia) and her sidekicks Lawrence Mooney, Sam Pang and Adam Zwar. These guys rock! I have heard from back home how well it all comes across, and being part of it was fun!
BTW, I met Hannah Dodd coming out of the studio after her interview, which was exciting for me as I saw her (and her horse, Waikiwi) compete in the Equestrian Individual Freestyle at Greenwich Park the day before.
The International Broadcast Centre (IBC) is the home for rights-holding broadcasters for the duration of the Games. It’s the same place used at the Olympics, and the Olympic Broadcast Service (OBS) delivers 15 feeds of content live from Paralympic venues for the ABC to use in their coverage. This is the same system as the Olympics and means that each broadcast rights holder doesn’t have to have hundreds of cameras at all the different venues.
The ABC also has 5 additional cameras out and about, interviewing athletes. Often these interviews come in live from ‘mixed zones’ where journalists can talk to athletes immediately after their event. This means the ABC have over 20 feeds to draw from, not all covering Australian athletes of course!
There is a huge technical, logistical and production challenge turning this raw content into the seamless, professional coverage on TV. Today I met the people working in these various roles, from commentary, production, audio, editing, server management engineering, cameras and make-up! (Shout out to Michaela, freelance technical engineer)
All up, the ABC have 80 people working around the clock in shifts to broadcast the Paralympic Games. Its a huge effort and I’m proud of the fact that the Australian Sports Commission provided $1 million to the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) specifically to support broadcast coverage of the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
ABCTV will show over 100 hours of exclusive coverage of the 11 days of competition at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, on standard definition TV, using both ABC1 and ABC2.
ABC1 is broadcasting live Games coverage every morning from 4.00-8.30am Australian time and Stephanie Brantz hosts a nightly highlights show from 6.00-7.00 pm. ABC 2 shows daily live coverage from 7.00pm-11.00pm Australian time, featuring morning events from London.
Expert commentary will be provided by Paralympians (not competing in London) Troy Sachs (wheelchair basketball), Heath Francis (athletics), Amy Winters (athletics) and Katrina Webb (athletics).
Its worth noting that ABCTV also produced more than 120 hours coverage of the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, winning the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) Broadcast Media Award for outstanding coverage of the Games. ABC TV also won the IPC Broadcast Media Award for its coverage of the Turin 2006 Winter Paralympic Games.
So congratulations for the coverage so far, ABCTV, and thanks for the look around!