Sanremo Festival in 4K


The 2024 edition of the Italian Song Festival, the seventy-fourth, is being produced and broadcast in 4K format for the first time in its history.

This remarkable production effort involved approximately 340 people and required the use of 12 UHD cameras, 40 digital radio microphones, around 800 lighting projectors, 1,600 audio signals, 7 km of LED strips, and 4 km of fiber. Sanremo is not the first live event by Rai to be produced and broadcast in UltraHD. On December 7th last year, for the Prima at La Scala, Rai 4K had broadcast Don Carlo live, an event entirely produced in native 4K format.


“Technically, there are no major differences, it was still a 4K SDR product,” said Marco Cunsolo, Director of TV Production at Rai. “However, the video content related to the lights, scene, and stage movements is very different. The Festival is very complex, integrated with external and internal lighting forms, combined with video sources and scenic lighting, with fast camera movements. The one at La Scala was very static, with very few movements. The transport systems were also different, via IP from La Scala and via satellite from Sanremo.”


The Ariston Theatre is not a traditionally ‘easy’ location for television productions. The set assembly began as early as December 11th last year, two months prior, to allow enough time to fiber cable the entire Ariston and part of the nearby Piazza Colombo and Piazza Borea d’Olmo, including the Glass Studio. It should be noted that the 4K production is not yet the state-of-the-art for this format: Rai decided to use a standard dynamic range (SDR) and not the more advanced HDR. “We used a small compromise to avoid signal transport and video compatibility issues,” Cunsolo added, “but we are already implementing HDR in upcoming productions. We are very satisfied with the results of the first nights of the Festival. It was a project strongly desired by TV Production, with the collaboration of the Technology Directorate and the Networks and Platforms Directorate. The pride of a great team has propelled us into the future of the viewing experience.”

The Sanremo Festival can be followed in 4K in three different ways. The first is via streaming on channel 101 of digital terrestrial through an HbbTV app, as was already done for the World Cup in Qatar. The second is through RaiPlay, but only on television models tested and certified by Rai. The third is via satellite on Rai 4K, channel 210 of the tivùsat bouquet. Among the three options, the latter is undoubtedly the most performant, thanks to an average bitrate of 22 Mbit/sec.