EMG takes a collaborative approach to meet the technical and logistical challenges of the Giro d’Italia
Following the announcement that RCS Sport has appointed EMG as their broadcast production partner for cycling, the duo continued their cooperation with the successful delivery of the Giro d’Italia, which took place last month. EMG was asked to manage the production of the event, including editorial management and logistics. Beginning on May 6 in Budapest, the three-week Giro d’Italia ended in Verona on May 29 after 21 challenging stages.
“For us, it’s a big responsibility that also covers the whole package of the nine races in Italy. For this we have set up a partnership between EMG in France, Belgium, Holland and Italy, and we are going to do experiments »
All logistics were handled by EMG Italy, led by Davide Furlan, Director of International Special Events and Global Cycling Project Manager, EMG Italy, as well as Valentina D’Alìa, TV Enclosure Bookings Logistics Coordinator and known as ‘the one who slept the least!’ as she led a team of 129 people through every stage of the race.
D’Alia ‘gives the numbers’
As D’Alia explains: “My task was to coordinate the booking team for the logistics of the entire operational group made up of Italians, French, Dutch and Belgians. All the logistics, finding hotels close to hotspots, arranging catering, moving all the staff, was a mammoth undertaking, for a product on air from noon to 6:00 p.m. for each leg, for a total of 106 hours of live .”
Throughout the event, some 6,764 km were covered in 27 days; 1,958 hotel rooms have been reserved, excluding air crews and helicopters, which still numbered 8 to 10 people; 20 drivers with 20 minivans were used for the caravans which transport all the staff to the hotels; 1,548 meals were served between arrivals and departures; and 60 hours of night monitoring were conducted.
Fabio Guadagnini, financial director of EMG Italy and project manager for the Giro, in charge of coordinating the French, Italian, Dutch and Belgian groups, comments: “RCS Sport has made a strategic and also very courageous choice, and will rely on EMG Group for three years, becoming the organizer also for the production part.
“For us, it’s a big responsibility that also covers the whole package of the nine races in Italy. To do this we have set up a partnership between EMG in France, Belgium, Holland and Italy, and we will carry out some experiments.
“In these early editions [starting with the Strade Bianche road race in March and the Giro] we didn’t have much technical time because we were too close to the start of the competitions [when we were appointed]but we are already working on a strategy for the next few years where we will offer new adventures with RCS Sport, which is a very receptive interlocutor and for us this is important.
“We have therefore decided to put on track the best of what the group can offer at European level for cycling: our great technological knowledge, starting with RF services and the management of EMG signals Belgium, Holland and France, and our territorial expertise. , in addition to the management of technical means and the production of OB vans which is largely managed by EMG Italy.
For this edition of the Giro, EMG has mobilized and brought together a set of international expertise, this is the first time that the group has mobilized this inter-company joint venture on such a complex project.
Guadagnini adds: “It was a very important challenge that we took up with great commitment. We were aware that we could never let our guard down; narrating a sports performance over 200 to 270 km in five or six hours of live coverage involves many risks and dangers.
According to Bruno Coudyzer, EuroLinX manager at EMG Belgium, “it was not difficult”, but rather “a great challenge”. He continues: “Each country and each city where we stopped had its own difficulties: it is enough to see the size of the TV complex for international and national flows, to understand that we had to face very logistical and technical constraints. demanding and very different. and complexities and practical solutions.
“Whereas in the “flat” stages, like Reggio Emilia, the management is simpler; in the mountain stages we have less space and leeway to make everything work. Here, the middle team is instrumental because mountains often block line-of-sight propagation for RF signals to pass.
“We lived 30 days of great enthusiasm with a strong search for technical sports details, details that had been lost in the past, despite the absolute competence of RAI, and which the amateur cyclist likes to see, all with 1080i images of great quality, therefore with an excellent signal”
The device of the Giro is similar to that of the Tour de France with 10 bikes, including five for one-sided RAI, some for audio commentary and one for Eurosport, as well as the use of helicopters.
“In addition to the two in flight, we had a third helicopter on standby and also a second aircraft – still on standby – which is used for the so-called ‘queen’ and ‘long leg’ stages,” adds Coudyzer.
“I really couldn’t calculate by heart how many RF channels we were using, but in terms of frequencies used, there were about 80, not only for video but also for comms and data, because intercoms are essential in such a mobile configuration. ”
Most of the RF equipment came from Livetools, a proprietary brand within EMG, which has its own research and development areas and produced the Fusion platform.
Transmitters, receivers, software and additional hardware make this huge installation possible over long distances and allowed the team to coordinate the use of all frequencies involved.
“We transmitted and received all signals through various Fusion components that allow links, even 120 km, to aircraft operating between 6,500 and 8,000 meters altitude, as well as 12 sources to carry and a myriad of video and data audio channels,” Coudyzer said.
“Given the importance of the radiofrequency signals, we engaged two planes because one was always ready as a backup to avoid any interruption; moreover, in certain particularly long stages where the flight autonomy is exceeded (approximately 6.5 hours), the second aircraft can take over in overlap.
A passion for cycling
Angelo Carosi, director of the Giro, said: “What we have shown here in Italy is not only the best television technology on the market, but also, from an operational point of view, it is the best team that you could ask. Even the motorcyclists and the cameramen are super passionate, often champion cyclists, and it shows in the result of the images broadcast.
“We went in search of aesthetic details and the most important novelty of the realization is the discovery of the Italian territory, thanks to the production of EMG for RCS Sport, where our commitment was to create the right combination between the sporting spectacle and the territorial.
“We are very lucky because, unlike other nations, we have a variety of landscapes that allow the country to be valued touristically and spectacularly.”
Directing the Giro is a fairly complex operation which, apart from the technological grandeur, involves a huge effort on the part of the people who have to set everything up and take it down in a few hours.
“Those who see the race on TV don’t realize the physical effort of everyone: we have to cover a six-hour live broadcast for almost 30 days”, explains Carosi. “Personally, among the many challenges in my career, this one is new and it is the first time that the Giro d’Italia has been produced by an external company rather than the national broadcaster RAI.
“The guys who work with me are all very busy and passionate and it could only be like that, otherwise we would not have reached such an effective formula in a very short time, also confirmed by the praise of international takers who pick up the signals.
“The staff hired by EMG is of the highest standard. The winning choice was also to rely on an international dimension, involving internal enthusiasts from EMG Belgium, France, Holland and Italy, and supporting people with a high level of know-how.
“We lived 30 days of great enthusiasm with a strong search for technical sports details, details that had been lost in the past, despite the absolute competence of RAI, and which the amateur cyclist likes to see, all with 1080i images of great quality, so with an excellent signal.
Carosi continues: “What stands out in the style of how we told the great story of the Giro is our specificity in having prepared two parallel timetables, one that tells the road race and the other for helicopters and motorcycles.To enhance the territory and the most important technical points of the race, we have created two different descents where some motorcycles and helicopters temporarily detach from the race and head towards the points of interest adjacent to the race. track, then convert back to a well-identified point and resume live racing.
“It amounts to building two production plans which are followed live through a live graphics card in the RF truck and are decided on the basis of the initial morning coordination, a production meeting, which orchestrates the day like in a score . for a large orchestra”, concludes Carosi.