After a 12 year break The Open was held at Royal Troon this year, home to the Open eight times since 1923. This is one of the world’s great sporting events and attracts the world’s best golfers. With a fantastic course and a total prize fund of £6.5 million and a top prize of £1,175,000 it is not hard to see why!
This was the first year that The Open has been covered by Sky Sports, a year earlier than originally planned. With an entire channel dedicated to the tournament, and a fresh approach to the coverage, this was an enormous event for us at Broadcast RF, especially as it fell in the middle of some of our other major global events. But as always we rose to the challenge. The course was carefully surveyed to plan the best coverage, and with wind strength and direction even more of a concern at Troon the placing of the antennas was critical to ensure good coverage no matter what the great British summer threw at us.
We supplied a complete turnkey global RF operation on-site. Included in the line-up were six handheld cameras, two marquee group handhelds and a Steadicam for European Tour Productions; four handhelds for NBC; three for TV Asahi; and two more for Sky Sports presentation, plus an IMovix X10 RF camera.
Our Technical Director Mark Houghton commented on the event: “we’re providing RF cameras for multiple clients, plus a fixed-wing aircraft beauty shot camera which is a joint undertaking with CTV. We have engineers in charge of each client, providing a point of contact. But it’s a team effort here, with seven of our own BRF crew and three more from CTV”.
“We’ve got a course-wide RF system with antennas on the two main compound hoists, plus the first, second, fourth, sixth, ninth, eleventh and eighteenth holes – sixteen antennas all the way around. We GPS track all the cameras so we know exactly where they are on the course, then we route the best combination into the diversity receiver, with the ability to mute cameras that may be noisy,”
“There’s a lot of redundancy in the system, with multiple antennas around the course. If one hoist goes down we don’t see a difference. There are fibre nodes around the course, so we can pretty much deploy a gap-fill antenna anywhere very quickly if we feel there’s a potential hole in coverage. We’ve got RCPs in different trucks, so we’re not controlling everything from one place. It’s a networked camera control system.
“The fibre on the course is built in, that’s a new system and makes a big difference to us – but there are challenges with the sheer quantity of fibre and lots of providers trying to use the same infrastructure. You can see that the patch bay over there is pretty busy!
“In terms of a single sporting event this is about as big as it gets. Effectively there are 24 RF systems on the course, including the wire cam on the eighth which is actually wireless. It’s pretty busy, if you add in the 70-odd channels of radio talkback as well from CTV.
“Golf is a big challenge. One stipulation the R&A have is they don’t want a second person holding a pole for RF coverage – which of course would keep the weight down and help with battery usage. The R&A insist on standalone operation, so the cameraman has to carry all the equipment. They don’t want to see clutter around the greens,”
“We work with Vislink, using their L1700 microwave transmitter and Omni antenna. It’s a very lightweight system: if you go back five years, the transmitter alone would have been heavier than the whole pack now. Even though they’re roaming around the whole golf course, the camera operators are happy”
With early starts and late finishes it was pretty much a normal golf event – par for the course you might say!