In October 2021 and 2022, Broadkastr had the opportunity to livestream the largest student event in Flanders. The sports event, organized by the student umbrella association LOKO, has now seen 50 editions. In the last edition, we reached 26,000 unique online viewers and welcomed over 15,000 visitors offline. In this blog post, we take a look behind the scenes.
The 24 urenloop has been a household name in Leuven for half a century (!). 18 different student associations compete against each other in a 24-hour relay race. The fastest associations complete more than a thousand laps of 530 meters in this time, which is an average speed of over 22 km/h. In total, in 2022, more than 8000 kilometers were covered in the 24 urenloop.
The organizer of this event is LOKO, the Leuven student union. Together with a lot of the student associations they dedicate themselves annually to the organization. More than 1000 volunteers contribute yearly to the realization of the event.
We have been working on the preparations for this sports event for several months. Roughly, these preparations unfolded as follows:
You don't organize a 24 urenloop alone. In addition to suppliers like ourselves, LZL, and Nano Support, more than 20 student associations and over 1000 volunteers are working to make the event a success. Good planning and coordination are crucial.
The common floor plan plays a central role in this. Where are power outlets and internet connections located? How will cables run? Where are passages for the public to protect cables? Who is responsible for which part of the event? All this information comes together in the floor plan and supporting documents.
Also important: where is the backup electricity generator located? We ran out of power for a while during the 50th edition. Fortunately, we could continue for half an hour on our backup battery. That was more than enough time to connect to LOKO's generator.
Next to the shared floor plan, we create a floor plan ourselves to meticulously plan every cable and piece of equipment. We print this out in a large format, so we can use this as a starting point during setup. Last-minute changes are also indicated on it with a marker, so we have an up-to-date reference point during the production.
The eyes and ears of our online audience! During the 50th edition in 2022, we worked with 9 cameras:
For the 24 urenloop, we use the Accsoon CineEye 2S transmission system. This gives us a range of 50 to 100 meters with our mobile camera, depending on the crowd (interference is a significant issue with wireless signals at busy events). In a future edition, we may use the new DJI Transmission System (they have recently - finally - released a standalone receiver!) to extend our range. If we hang the receiver in one of the light towers on the field, our mobile cameras could reach several kilometers!
We attach the receiver for the wireless microphone to the camera. This audio signal is transmitted through the video transmission system. In our control room, we can then extract this signal and mix it separately into the livestream.
A student organization doesn't have the budgets of a Memorial Van Damme. Using our camera crews for 24 hours straight would significantly increase the budget. That's why we started a fruitful collaboration with LOKO: they search for motivated students interested in being part of a live production, and Broadkastr provides training sessions to prepare them for the 24 urenloop.
There will always be a difference in quality between a novice student and an experienced cameraman. Nevertheless, the result can be quite nice! Let's take a look at a lap:
Interested in gaining one of your first live production experiences at the "24 urenloop"? Awesome! You can get in touch with us here. We're forward to your message 👋.
The 50th edition was broadcasted on ROB-tv, with Broadkastr providing the feed. During tests with them, we discovered something interesting: with a certain combination of settings, our camera suffered from a ghosting effect. For the 24 urenloop, we use the Sony NX80, equipped with an SDI/v-lock rig for the convenience of volunteer camera operators (see below). Manually focussing an Ursa Broadcast G2 requires an experienced operator.
After much searching, Stephane from ROB-tv found the solution: when the camera's internal recording is set to 4K, but the output that is sent to our streaming PC is at 1080p, we experienced this ghosting effect. This is likely due to downscaling. Lesson learned: with the Sony NX80, both the quality of internal recording and output must match.
New for the 50th edition: a team of commentators providing fun facts and insights for 24 hours. A team of 17 people with knowledge about the history and culture of the competition took turns. If you tuned in at 4 am for example, you could hear Samuel Berton talking about the latest overtake.
Commentators were stationed in teams of 2. This created more of a conversation, which is a lot easier to maintain for 24 hours. It’s also more fun to listen to as a viewer.
During the 50th edition, we saw a doubling of average viewing time compared to the 49th edition. The commentary team played a significant role in this. Thank you to the whole team!
The heart of the 24-hour run livestream. All signals come together here to be transformed into an exciting livestream by the Broadkastr production team.
Brand new for the 51st edition: we are planning on broadcasting an additional livestream that includes the director's intercom, a multiview with all cameras at the same time, and a live overview of the control room. You can register here!
A total of 60 people were involved in the 24-hour run livestream. Broadkastr managed the production, with ten team members rotating in shifts. The cameras were operated by LOKO volunteers.
A livestream has a hierarchical structure. Decisions that need to be made live happen rapidly. This structure ensures efficient communication and clear responsibilities. Usually, communication is one way. As things need to move along quickly, there's not a lot of time for discussion. Though, when someone at the bottom of the communication chain notices something, that is sent back up the chain too.
Being live for 24 hours requires a good schedule. Two producers alternated every 3 hours. All other roles rotated every two hours. Here is an overview of how the shift schedule for the 50th edition (2022) was divided.
In 2021, during the 49th edition of the 24 urenloop, Broadkastr achieved a milestone. There were enough Starlink satellites above Belgium, allowing uninterrupted satellite internet connection via the dish. While we typically use this technology as a backup, this time we decided to reverse roles to gather a lot of data and stress-test this relatively new technology.
We partnered with Aviate Labs for this endeavour, an R&D lab providing infrastructure and software for commercial applications of Web3.
Ultimately, we conducted the entire livestream via Starlink, and it went excellently: we had 100% uptime. We are likely among the first to livestream an event of this scale and duration via Starlink. We did not need our two backups (the internet line we typically use as the primary connection and a 4G router).
More information on the operation of the Starlink system and why it can be a good backup for data centers and livestream applications can be found on Aviate Lab's blog:
De Tijd was also present to document this milestone, you can read their article here.
Who's actually watching a 24-hour long livestream? On social media, we saw that many people followed the 24 urenloop together in their dorm rooms or in auditoria. The 26,000 unique viewers we gathered from the statistics can thus be seen as a minimum. When we look at the chart that maps out simultaneous viewers, we can clearly see which moments are the most popular among viewers, with the finish (understandably) taking first place.
We ensure that the program's intensity matches the number of viewers. At night, when there are only a few hundred viewers, we use only the six cameras around the track. In the final third of the 24-hour run, it's all hands on deck: interviews, mobile cameras, and highlights follow each other rapidly.
Roughly, the schedule looked like this:
For us, the 24 urenloop is one of our annual highlights. It's a technical marathon where we can try out new things. Thanks to LOKO for making this wonderful event a success year after year, and thanks for the great collaboration!