CTV Backs Up Host Feed, Four Others at Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup is a team competition, so, fittingly, CTV is working with five separate production teams to support the productions at this weekend’s event in Wales. In addition to providing facilities for European Tour Productions’ host feed, CTV is supplying facilities for unilateral feeds for ESPN, Turner Sports, Golf Channel, and Sky Sports News, making for a hectic setup at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport.
“We supply ESPN’s facilities at the British Open, which is another large golf production,” says Hamish Greig, CTV’s technical manager for the Ryder Cup. “However, the facilities we provide here are about three times the size of our standard European tour golf setups. Because of the different production centers and the amount of cameras and RF cameras that we’re responsible for, this is quite a large endeavor.”
Dozens of Cameras, Hundreds of Feeds
For the European Tour Productions host feed, CTV is providing 41 cabled cameras on the course, one tethered camera, and 12 RF cameras, all with dual receive sites. Twenty-seven high-power radio effects microphones with dual receive sites are also littered around the course, and CTV has a technical crew of 250 on-site for support.
“We’re covering every ball hit on the golf course at any time by any match,” Greig says. “We cover it and make sure it’s recorded.”
In addition to providing equipment to the host broadcaster, CTV is responsible for distributing all the feeds, including stereo effects and MADI streams, for all rights-holding broadcasters.
“We’re making available about 110 feeds for other broadcasters to pick up from our main distribution area,” Greig says.
For each of the four on-site unilateral productions, CTV is providing support for a studio as well as additional cameras, drops, and interview positions and all of the in-screen and audio requirements for a studio production. For ESPN, CTV is supporting the SportsCenter studio on the 18th green as well as an RF camera. Golf Channel and Sky Sports News HD also have studios at the 18th green, and Sky Sports has two RF cameras; Turner Sports’ PGA.com setup has a studio overlooking the course.
A Long Way To Run (Fiber)
Still, the biggest challenge CTV faces in this setup is not the amount of support being provided but the distance over which that is done.
“The biggest challenge we have at this course is, the nearest hole is a kilometer away from us, so we’ve installed 40 km of PAC24 single-mode fiber to hubs around the course,” Greig explains. “We’re using our home-designed camera-fiber interfaces that fan out to SMPTE and Hydras. Those interface to our Calrec desks for the audio effects, which we’re doing all in stereo. We’ve got 24 duplex base stations running in this job for communications, and everything is fiber.”
CTV is also providing the fiber infrastructure for Sky Sports’ 3D production of the event, which requires eight additional hubs of 24-core fiber.
Fiber, Fiber Everywhere
When CTV supported the 1997 Ryder Cup production in Sotogrande, Spain, the production compound was located in the middle of the course, and Greig’s team laid down 130 km of cable. More than a decade later, his team has laid shorter lengths of cable — 40 km of Cat 24 single-mode fiber, 25 km of SMPTE fiber, 20 km of triax, and 15 km of multi-mode — but each of the 24 cores is responsible for 10 camera feeds.
“In comparative terms, we’re doing a lot more cameras with less cable,” Greig points out. “Everything is fiber-dependent now. We purchased about 30 km of 24-core cable in 2-km lengths, so most of the cable runs are about 3.5 km, but they vary between 2.5 km and 4.5 km. There are very few splices, and we do all our own splicing. It’s difficult to put in, but it’s worth it once it’s in. It saves a lot of time, and it’s the best for engineering reliability and durability.”
However, fiber is not the easiest medium to work with, and Greig is quick to point out that the CTV staff would not be able to work with this amount of fiber if the company had not embraced it through the years.
“All of our staff is really fiber-knowledgeable because we’re always at the forefront of fiber in the UK,” he says. “Because of golf, we’ve gotten involved in permanent installations for cricket, which are all fiber-dominated. We can do that only because of the knowledge we’ve gained through the years and the expertise of our people.”