The original concept for the project, when it launched in November 2012, was limited to a small flypack located near Copacabana beach. “When [ESPN] saw the beauty of the beachside location, they decided to build their main control room in Clube dos Marimbás, a Brazilian beach club,” said Joe Wire, Bexel’s vice president of sales and account development. “So what started as just enough camera equipment to fit into a 20-foot shipping container soon grew into a 4,000 square-foot technical facility housed in its own custom-designed building.”
Since the World Cup takes place in 16 different stadiums around the country, there was no central venue that could host the broadcasts. But, by locating the main studio right at the beach, there would always be something interesting happening behind the anchors’ and commentators’ desks to keep the pictures interesting.
The studio’s infrastructure was built around an Evertz EQX 394 X 970 video router with all Grass Valley cameras, a Grass Valley K-Frame Kayenne 4 M/E digital production switcher and a Calrec Artemis 24 fader audio console.
“By the time we shipped the equipment in late April, the complement included 27 cameras, three control rooms and two production sets, all linked via fiber from the beach club to their main facility in Bristol, Conn.,” said Wire.
Once they started to build the gear into the Rio de Janiero location in May, there were two main challenges the Bexel team had to overcome: power and logistics. “Every country to host a large event presents unique challenges and Brazil is no different,” Wire commented.
Bexel’s crew had to conform to the Brazilian concept of how and when to work. “We learned to adapt to the city’s own regulations that keep trucks carrying containers over 6-feet long off the streets between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.” Wire said. “Most of our unloading had to happen during the night.”
The two-story technical facility complete with two control rooms was completed on June 4, when Bexel’s team handed it over to ESPN after certifying that everything was up and properly functioning.
“Since we had to build the technical infrastructure inside the Clube dos Marimbás beach club, we were working in a defined space,” Wire said. “But by the time the games started to air, we had created a world-class broadcast facility on time and within the specified budget at one of the most beautiful locations on the earth.”