The All England Lawn Tennis Club Championships, Wimbledon 2014
This summer Broadcast RF brought the world two weeks of live tennis action from The Wimbledon Championships, a competition that is widely considered the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.
World No 1 Rafael Nadal fell short to 19 year old Australian Nick Kyrgios in the 4th round and Andy Murray was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Bulgarian youngster Grigor Dimitrov, before Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in a thrilling five set final, marking his second victory at the tournament and reclaiming the title of world No 1.
Although being “old hands” at Wimbledon for the AELTC championships, 2014 was the first time that Broadcast RF had been selected to provide all the wireless camera facilities for the BBC host broadcaster operation in addition to radio-cameras for ESPN and the IMG World operation.
It seemed sensible, for both financial and technical reasons, to combine the broadly similar RF requirements of the three broadcasters into one integrated operation and early agreement was sought, and granted, through the OB provider, NEP Visions, for this.
The wireless camera requirements totalled 7 roving RF cameras, most requiring the ability to work virtually anywhere in the grounds and on any court, although a couple of cameras were initially requested to work only in two or three specified areas. In addition a roving RF monitor was requested by the BBC, to work alongside a Reporter and wireless camera.
Broadcast RF installed a wide-area receive set up with 12 discrete antenna locations, connected back to the RF control point using RF over fibre systems on temporary fibre cables installed especially by NEP Visions. The outputs from each antenna were connected, via RF splitters, to either manual or automatic RF switching systems which allowed the receiver/decoders for each camera to be fed with the most appropriate receive antennas. This versatile solution provided the ability for each camera to rove virtually anywhere in the grounds, and even outside the grounds on several occasions.
Also, due to the signals from each antenna being fed through multi-way RF splitters with the ability to cross connect antennas, it allowed for some cameras to operate in areas that had not been initially specified!
The AELTC championships are a high profile event and the courts and grounds are prepared and maintained to a meticulous high standard to ensure they look their very best, both for the TV audience and those attending the event in person. For this reason any TV equipment deployed anywhere has to be a discrete as it can be. Broadcast RF carefully selected the receive equipment to be as inconspicuous as possible and, combined with the careful locating of antennas and peripheral equipment, ensured that our presence was extremely low profile. In fact the only complaint regarding unsightly antennas that we received turned out to be about those belonging to a foreign broadcaster who had installed their equipment without the same care and attention as ourselves!
A couple of the BBC cameras had two roles, sometimes deployed as ENG camcorders for the PSC crew to gain recorded footage without the need for a link and at other times used as live linked cameras into the Presentation OB. The RF kit had to be quick and easy to remove and refit to the cameras and even to mount on different cameras for the BBC Breakfast operation, which provides its own cameras and crew.
Centre Court coverage also featured a BBC Steadicam using an LDX Compact camera provided by Broadcast RF and attached to the steadicam rig with our custom made lightweight mount.
This camera was additionally required to cover the finalists walk from their dressing room doors all the way to the court. This is a tricky route to cover with a roving wireless camera as it is all indoors, through 2 levels of the Centre Court building, and it is not possible or permitted, to install antennas inside along the route. Careful positioning of antennas outside on adjacent courts and other areas successfully provided seamless coverage of the entire walk despite not being able to test the camera along the full route in advance!
The Broadcast RF engineering team took all these requirements in their stride, as usual, and their carefully designed and engineered RF solutions meant that coverage of all cameras exceeded expectations and resulted in satisfied clients all round.