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SPORT AS A LIGHT SHOW

When sport becomes a show, lighting is crucial in determining the quality of the televised images offered to the audience and the general public.


Nowadays, sports events with spectators that are filmed and broadcast by television networks are events of mass entertainment. It goes without saying that the lighting for the entire sports complex hosting such an event must take this reality into account. Many functions must be guaranteed. The public must be able to enjoy the event with the highest level of visual comfort and the television cameras must be able to rely on well-lit settings suitable for broadcasting.

An event’s demand for a spectacular atmosphere requires lighting devices to be grouped in such a way that the partial switching on and off, for each group, and the adjustment of their luminous fluxes can be managed. For the most effective performance of these functions, the installation must be equipped with a management and control system. Floodlight lighting devices are specifically set up to receive the normal power supply line and a second line for the transmission of signals. A device called a controller, into which both lines converge, performs the recognition and sorting of signals that control the previously mentioned on/off functions and regulate the luminous fluxes. In this way it is possible to create various light source groups and implement a program that automatically manages their various functions.

One of the most widespread systems is that based on DMX (Digital MultipleXed) technology, it has been in use for many years in the world of entertainment and is frequently used with LED sources in sports complexes. This is a system for transmitting electrical signals via a two-conductor twisted cable shielded from electrical and electromagnetic interference. The controller is programmed using dedicated software.

 

ATHLETES, SPECTATORS, TELEVISION

In every sporting discipline there are always two areas to be illuminated: the spectator area – the stands – and the competition area, which is of primary importance as it is where spectators’ eyes are focused. For the athletes involved, for a fair and even competition, there must be clear and precise visual conditions, often in quick succession, over the entire area or playing field. To achieve this, illuminance levels in the order of hundreds of lux are generally required. For football, there are formulas that relate the number of spectators to the amount of light in the playing area (Table 1). As the number of spectators increases, viewing distances lengthen too, which explains the increases of lux.

The average maintained illuminance Ehmed is used in the calculations. The adjective “maintained” refers to the lux value given by the lighting devices installed under the condition of planned maintenance (limit conditions for maximum light flow dispersion). In practice, the designer formulates the calculation of illuminances by adopting a “maintenance factor” given by a percentage of the flux emitted by the lighting devices. This percentage of flux reduction is obtained by analysing the real operating conditions of the installation (time intervals between maintenance operations, air pollution, etc.). In the absence of a specific analysis, a value of 0.8 (80% of the total flow) is assumed.

According to the UNI EN 12193 Standard in the CONI and the Sports Federations guidelines, the following is prescribed for the lighting of areas occupied by the public:

· for class I facilities:

10% minimum of the average horizontal illuminance Ehmed envisaged for the playing field;

· for class II and III facilities:

10 lx minimum of Ehmed in the areas reserved for the public.

 

ILLUMINANCE UNIFORMITY

A second very important parameter to achieve the highest standard of vision of the sports event relates to the uniformity of the horizontal illuminance. There are two types of uniformity to be considered:

· the ratio between the minimum illuminance and the maximum illuminance, U1

· the ratio between minimum illuminance and average illuminance, U2

The two ratios are used to determine whether a surface is properly illuminated without dark zones interspersed with bright zones, i.e., whether there are significant, or rather perceptible, alterations to the average illuminance. This variable is of fundamental importance for visibility and good vision. The first ratio (U1)  records the differences between the areas of higher and lower illuminance, i.e., a point gap (light spots and shadow cast). The second (U2) records the presence of areas with low luminous flux values, i.e., the areas where the least light is cast.

The values indicated by the regulations change for each sport discipline and for indoor or outdoor facilities. The value of U1 is generally lower than that of U2. U1 values vary between 0.3 and 0.5 and those of U2  between 0.5 and 0.7.

 

VERTICAL ILLUMINANCE

The illuminance on the vertical planes with respect to the ground (Evmed) is important for the vision of the public and the athletes and, in particular, for televised events. Compliance with the horizontal illuminance parameter normally ensures effective vertical illuminance. The lux ratio on the horizontal and vertical planes of the competition area at a height of 1 metre above the ground must comply with the general rule: 

0.5 <= Ehmed / Evmed <= 2

 

Many standards do not take into account the photometric variable Evmed, which is carefully evaluated for TV broadcasting. Ideally, the calculation should be extended to include the marginal areas of the ground, i.e., in the area reserved for the public where there are stands or bleachers. It is advisable that the value of the average vertical illuminance in the surrounding areas is at least 25% of the average vertical illuminance of the competition area.

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