Pope’s visit in the Philippines, broadcasted by Village Island

Philippines – Jan 21, 2015
Pope Francis Concluding Mass in the Philippines, was Powered by VILLAGE ISLAND’S Live Broadcasting System, VillageFlow™

  • Pope in the Crowd
  • The Stagecraft control center, with VillageFlow
  • The huge mass gathering around Rizal Park
  • Overall map showing LED walls around the broadcast
  • The joint Village Island and HDSD team

Click to view Image gallery …

When the Catholic Church’s Pope Francis visited the Philippines from January 15th to 19th, his hectic schedule was concluded with a Mass at Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila, attended by six million people. Ensuring all present could see and hear the Pontiff, the Mass was powered by VillageFlow live broadcasting system. Village Island was awarded this contract in partnership with its Filipino local integrator High Definition Services in Digital Trading Co. (HD SD)

According to Village Island President, Michael Van Dorpe, “It was necessary to reach displays some 1.5 km away and the topology of the terrain was quite complex due to the presence of numerous obstacles, large trees, monuments, and undesirable interference. Also a one seg (QPSK modulation) would have been easy to cope with the situation, but it would have only allowed mobile-type low resolution video resolution and not the High-Definition required for this project. Therefore, it was decided to configure a DekTec DTA-2111 output modulator with 13-segments of robust reception parameters such as Guard Interval of 1/4, 16QAM modulation and Code Rate of 3/4, giving approximately 10.9Mbps.

With such modulation parameters, 25dB of MER was required for quality reception, but on T.M. Kalaw street Led Display Wall, it was impossible to get that good reception level due to the fact there was no direct line of sight. After consultation with the government authorities, it was decided to authorize the installation of an RF reception antenna on the top of the National Library nearby wired with a 200m coax cable.”

The main contractor and stage coordinator for the event, Stagecraft, acquired the versatile 3U VillageFlow system in order to encode the live HD-SDI feed at 8Mbps in H.264, generate the ISDB-T multiplex with custom table and service insertion. The resulting stream was modulated in OFDM, thanks to the embedded DTA-2111 Dektec OFDM modulator output board.
A DX antenna was strategically placed on top of the Quirino Grandstand, to amplify and transmit the ISDB-T signal for effective reception at each EWD terrestrial STB receiver placed at each LED display.

VillageFlow and StageCraft Control Center

The Stagecraft control center, with VillageFlow control screen in the foreground

Due to a large number of shows and performances throughout the day; including an orchestral performance with more than 500 musician and singers, the expectation for excellent audio quality was extremely high. As such, the audio was compressed at a high bit-rate of 384Kbps in AAC LC.

“The audio delays over the whole area had to be carefully considered due to several parameters,” said Michael Van Dorpe. “First, the OFDM Terrestrial video and audio broadcast system has a general delay of 1.5 sec but propagating at light speed. Second, the sound from the main stage propagates at sound speed of approximately 300 m per sec. This meant that displays very close to the stage had to receive their sound and video directly wired from the stage system (signals before being broadcast) and that some displays a little further but still receiving a fair volume of sound from the main stage were showing video only but no audio from the STB to prevent “echo”-like weird effect for the audience nearby. Third, displays further than 450 metres away were all receiving and playing video and audio with a fixed delay and limited volume to address their nearby area.”

“Key reasons why the terrestrial broadcast was selected against overall direct wiring, including optical fiber, aside the obvious reason of higher costing of complete wiring, were many worries of unpredictable events due to the millions of people invading such a small area – such as abnormal pressure on objects, stepping on cables, sudden crowd movement or panic – but also the desire to prevent situations where cables are cut.”

To prevent any issue, a backup VillageFlow system was built using a laptop with a DekTec DTU-351 HD-SDI USB input and a DTU-215 Terrestrial USB modulator output, offering an RF output with a high MER. This light and powerful back-up set-up was possible thanks to the VillageFlow TS processing platform. Although it is always recommended to use PCIe card rather than USB device that can be unplugged easily by pulling the cable, the back-up system showed satisfactory result with quality reception on all displays.

“In conclusion,” says Michael Van Dorpe, “this was the first time that ISDB-T Terrestrial Digital transmission was used for such large scale live event. The VillageFlow empowers highly-reliable, high-quality and flexible solution for encoding and transmission through complex topology area. Although the broadcast transmission overall delay can be an issue for short distance live transmissions, it is shown to be appropriate for large area coverage and can be addressed properly thanks to a good synchronization between video and audio experts.”

Top View

The huge mass gathering around Rizal Park.
Overall Map

Overall map showing LED walls around the broadcasting area.

VI and HDSD Team

The joint Village Island and HDSD team.

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