Streaming Fencing with Matrox VS4 and Telestream Wirecast
KABCOM is a leading organizer of competitive fencing events worldwide. Since 1992 they have organized several Olympic Games, many regional competitions such as the Asian, African and Pan-American Games, and a number of World Championships. In addition, they arrange the Fencing Grand Prix and World Cups annually.
Depending on the scope of the event, the company offers customers a variety of services including everything from scoreboards to fencing tracks and signaling, software for data processing, TV graphics, and video arbitrage systems that let referees watch replays and make decisions based on the video recordings. Lately, live production video streaming has become an important part of their offering, allowing fans everywhere to see the action.
“At KABCOM we pride ourselves on providing cost-effective solutions using the latest technology and as some of our technicians are themselves former fencers, they play a key role in identifying the needs upon which we base new ideas,” explains Noureddine Kaabi, director of the sports department at KABCOM. “Unlike in other sports, fencing takes place on four tracks simultaneously, so there are four matches going on at the same time. We needed a streaming solution that would allow us to capture all four videos and stream them using a single unit. We realized that Matrox was developing the VS4 and knew it was exactly the hardware required.”
Matrox VS4 is a quad HD capture and ISO recording card for Telestream Wirecast for Windows live production streaming software. In a single PCIe slot, Matrox VS4 provides up to four independent HD inputs with up to 8 embedded audio channels per source. It not only sends video feeds to Wirecast for streaming, it simultaneously provides ISO recording of all the original video and audio feeds to disk—ready for post-event editing.
“Given our considerable experience in this field, we always aim to offer our customers a comprehensive, reliable and flawless solution. The Matrox/Telestream system lets us open multiple instances of Wirecast and assign specific VS4 video inputs to each instance of the software, giving us the flexibility to stream individual matches to specific internet channels. Internet viewers can choose to watch one particular match or all four at the same time. Before using Matrox VS4, we did not have a solution to this problem. We had used other capture devices in the past, but the results were just not up to our standards. VS4 was the only product that met our requirements. The SDI capture is excellent and we can run cables up to 300 meters in SD and 100 meters in HD, a necessity in some venues.”
“We are now able to offer multi-view streaming with several cameras simultaneously filming a competition, giving our steaming production the look of a traditional television broadcast. We have also developed a system for commentators that lets them switch between tracks to comment on only one track at a time. A viewer can watch the action on Track A, for example, without being interrupted by commentary from Track B. We are convinced that the VS4/Wirecast solution would be very useful in other sports such as judo and athletics as well.”
Implemented at the start of the fencing season, the VS4/Wirecast solution has been used for many events to date. The International Challenge of Paris in January 2013 attracted 67,424 online viewers. Another important event streamed lived was the World Championships in Budapest in August.
KABCOM sometimes covers two fencing competitions concurrently so they maintain two streaming systems, both rack-mounted. “Customer satisfaction is a key factor in our business, but flexibility and the ability to work in good conditions are also very important. The setup timeframe prior to a fencing competition is tight so we generally have to install 4500 kg of equipment in a single day. The streaming system is just a small part of all that gear, but we need it be reliable, and easy to get up and running. As far as we’re concerned, the Matrox VS4 system is ‘the product’ for our live streaming production needs.”
“After the success of our new system this season, we now have an overbooked calendar for the next one!"