This year live coverage from the All England Lawn Tennis Club was produced by a new in-house host broadcaster for the first time – Wimbledon Broadcasting Services (WBS).
Broadcast RF provided a wireless camera network direct to WBS which included a receive infrastructure of 36 antennas spread over the site. This allowed the cameras to go pretty much anywhere on site, from Centre Court where operators wander from the back row of seats right the way down to grass level, through to the club grounds where wireless cameras can be found roving anywhere up to and including the line of fans waiting outside AELTC in the hope of getting a ticket to see some tennis.
The RF set-up for Wimbledon 2018 was broadly similar to last year, but one big change was in the number of broadcasters using the RF network. In 2017, it was eight clients, including the host and the Wimbledon Channel, whereas this year it was 10. Another major change was the fact that Centre Court coverage was in UHD and HDR.
“Because it is Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), it doesn’t really worry us,” said Nick Fuller, Broadcast RF Project Manager. “Unlike other flavours of HDR, there is no metadata required. We just have to make sure that we can pass the HLG though. In RF terms, the fundamental operation is the same, although clearly more bandwidth is required.”
One challenge faced on site was ensuring that equipment didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. The grounds are immaculate so we had to go to great lengths to hide antennas in inconspicuous positions, and even had rain covers made in Wimbledon green so that the equipment blended in.
An interesting new addition for 2018 was the option to have a roving monitor so that presenters can commentate on VT clips. In previous years there was one transmit position on the roof of the Broadcast Centre for this but it was unable to achieve site-wide coverage because of the height of the bigger courts, so for this year we developed new a system that would allow us to put four transmit positions in place for coverage anywhere on site. This was a very “hands-off” system which was regularly operated by non-technical staff and had to work without any intervention. The same frequencies were used for all four transmitters so that the monitor was always switched on.
Novak Djokovic won his fourth Wimbledon title by beating Kevin Anderson in the Men’s final on Sunday, after a dramatic semi-final win against Rafael Nadal lasted five hours and sixteen minutes over two days on Friday and Saturday.
The Women’s final saw Angelique Kerber win her first Wimbledon title against Serena Williams in what was a repeat of the 2016 final but with a very different outcome. Williams, who ranked 181st in the world before the tournament, is the lowest ranked player to ever reach a final, but did so just ten months after giving birth to her first child in September 2017.