Eye on the ball

The 2010 FIFA World Cup will showcase the latest AV technologies.
The Confederation Cup closing ceremony was staged in June.
The Confederation Cup closing ceremony was staged in June.


With the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa drawing nearer, crews are busily installing all the necessary technology required to support such an enormous world-class event. Sound and Stage takes a look at Gearhouse South Africa’s role in kitting out Johannesburg’s new Soccer City Stadium.

System Solutions, part of the Gearhouse South Africa Group of Companies, has been awarded a $39 million contract by the City of Johannesburg to supply and install a high definition IPTV, digital signage video distribution system as well as two large format, high resolution outdoor LED screens at the brand new Soccer City Stadium venue.

The 95,000 capacity Soccer City is located near Soweto, South Africa, and will host much of the 2010 FIFA World Cup action including the final and opening and closing ceremonies.

Outdoor LED screens
The two 86m² Lighthouse R16i/o-II screens comprised of 224 lightweight LED panels will be installed, fed by a state-of-the-art Vista Spyder video control system, running in conjunction with Christie Digital’s newly released Vista Universal Routing Switcher (URS-1608).

The control system has been designed for maximum flexibility, with all common formats accommodated at the input and output stages.

The Vista signal processors will ensure that all media and broadcast signals can be run through one system, replacing entire racks of scalers, transcoders, aspect-ratio converters and frame-rate converters with just one device.

The content layout of all outputs can be treated as independent or combined pixel spaces. These can be altered in real time, enabling multiple inputs to be displayed as independent layers on any output.

The LED display screens will not only relay action, sponsorship graphics, ad stings, et cetera, but will also function as the stadium’s electronic scoreboards.

Control system
AV Stumpfl ISEO has been selected as the main control platform to pull all the elements of the installation into one master control system with the ability to operate and communicate with all systems, devices and applications.

In addition to this, it will monitor devices and systems and provide fault reporting to the stadium’s property and building management systems. The venue operations manager will have the ability to override all elements of the AV system for emergency purposes when required.

ISEO was chosen primarily for its open platform. However, the technology also provides the data capture, operation and graphic display of the scoreboard and scoring system. It has the ability to do time-keeping, display team information, player and graphic images such as team colours, logos, national flags and game capture statistics.

It will also control the video mixing and switching, as well as all playback devices in the system and will allow a single input to control the entire video flow to the main LED screens, digital signage and IPTV systems.

HD/IPTV system
The high definition video control, digital signage and IPTV signal distribution systems will put the stadium at the cutting-edge of modern technology.

System Solutions will supply approximately 160 AV Stumpfl ISEO digital signage systems in all public areas of the stadium for general information and commercial advertising purposes.

Displays will be constantly updated and playback pre-recorded media content, together with multiple broadcast mixes which are able to be streamed live, to any layer on any display.

System Solutions will also provide a multi-channel high definition and standard definition IPTV distribution system comprising high definition hardware encoders, digital video broadcast gateways at the head-end and high definition receivers and display screens to back of house, VIP and hospitality suites.

The team
Under the guidance of System Solutions managing director Sean Stewart, a specialised team has been created to design, engineer and integrate all the elements of the contract, headed by UK-based project manager Sally Penney.

Stephen Woodroffe is head of technical, chief systems designer and digital signage specialist on the project. Joe Hayes is the on-site works manager and IT network specialist.

Mike Tempest, a video technician, is in charge of the video control and IPTV Systems. Charles Naidoo is the senior installations technician co-ordinating the specialised equipment installation and systems integration.

LEDVision’s Richard Baker and Gearhouse Media’s Chris Grandin will consult throughout the project, which is due to be completed by September 2009.

Penney, who is managing the logistics and administration aspects of the deal, is enjoying the opportunity to contribute to providing the best technical media solutions to the country’s premier national football stadium.

“The scale of the project and its locational logistics are major challenges,” she says. “It’s a fast track project and a great chance to work with some of South Africa’s leading suppliers in all fields.”

Hayes, who provides technical expertise relating to the networking involved with ITPV and digital signage including general IT support, says the project is unique in its challenges.

“The sheer logistics of undertaking an installation like this in such a big venue is a real challenge, especially when we are simultaneously working alongside numerous other contractors from different disciplines,” he explains.

According to Woodroffe, the installation process is flowing in a steady and co-ordinated manner.

“For me, maintaining constant levels of communication between all involved has been key, and at times a galvanising task, but it’s been an extremely exciting project so far,” he says.

“We are pushing the boundaries in terms of stadium integration standards, particularly in terms of IPTV and digital signage technologies.

“The project is a noteworthy achievement for System Solutions and truly sets a new benchmark for the industry. ”

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