Saturday 19th May 2018 saw a reported 18 million Britons tune in to watch the Royal Wedding 2018, with the BBC enticing a peak audience of over 13 million, ITV almost 4 million, and Sky News, Sky One and BBC News programmes bringing in a further ½ million.
Globally, the audience was massive, with an estimated 2 billion viewers, making it the fourth most watched Royal Wedding ever.
It is estimated that 600 guests were invited to the royal wedding, while 2,640 people were invited into the grounds of Windsor Castle on the day. Over 100,000 others lined public areas nearby, some of whom had camped out for several days, to catch a glimpse of the newly-wed couple during their open-topped carriage procession through Windsor and up the Long Walk.
Broadcast RF were heavily involved in the proceedings, supplying a total of 17 wireless radio camera systems to several different OB facility providers servicing multiple broadcasters including BBC, Sky News, ITN, CBC and ZDF.
The scale of the operation was large, very large, with multiple OBs in various locations in Windsor including Windsor Castle, 2 separate locations on The Long Walk (Domestic and Foreign Broadcast Compounds), and The Windsor Castle Pub.
We also supplied a bi-directional, multi-service, point to point link with full redundant backup, to connect the remote OB at the Windsor Castle Pub to the OB at the Long Walk Domestic Compound. This carried several video streams in each direction, along with program sound and multiple talkback channels.
A total of nine Broadcast RF engineers were deployed on-site; the early part of the rig at the Castle commenced on Tuesday 15th May, with the other sites following on consecutive days. Some positions were still being rigged on the afternoon of Friday 18th May, which might seem late, but it was all running according to the pre-ordained schedule.
Within the mix of the 17 RF cameras that BRF supplied were 7 brand new UHD RF systems, using Vislink HCAM HEVC transmitters, with the usual BRF/Videosys camera control. 3 of these were used by the BBC for the procession coverage, with SKY News taking the other 4 systems.
The UHD RF systems added an extra layer of complexity when it comes to allocating frequencies as each system, to allow full UHD picture quality required an RF channel that was twice as wide as a normal HD channel.
Our project management team, Nick Fuller and James Halliday, spent the weeks in the run up to the wedding poring over every detail of the plan, creating a thick file of project information, technical drawings, planning sheets and more, some of which were being amended only a few days before the rig began, as the proposals and plans inevitably changed at the last minute.
Nick also put together an incredibly detailed wireless camera frequency plan, in conjunction with Ofcom PMSE, in order to fully allocate every available frequency, for us and other RF vendors. Ofcom PMSE were able to open up access to more than the usual range of RF spectrum to help meet the needs of all the broadcasters and news organisations. Even with this extra capacity, there were literally no spare channels left on the day.
James Halliday, Broadcast RF Project Manager: “Everyone did an outstanding job, from the folks back in the office and warehouse who organised staff, logistics, and allocated, prepared and assembled all the kit for the job, to the engineers on site who worked incredibly hard, in an environment that was challenging in many ways, to pull off one of the highest profile jobs of the year.”
Jim Cathcart, ITN OB Engineering Manager, Special Events: “Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your usual fabulous work on yesterday’s wedding, like all of Special Events crew we were overawed at what we were seeing. Please thank all the girls and boys from me, they were magnificent.
Let’s do it all again sometime, but could we leave it for a little while?”
Michael Dugard, Prolink TV: “Just wanted to pass on grateful thanks to the whole BRF team involved in our RF set-up at the wedding. Special thanks to Nick for his work in advance and to the engineering excellence on site. We had a pair of happy clients, a lovely event, fine weather – perfect job. Thanks again. “