British Open: A fond farewell to SD…

By Kevin Hilton
SVG Europe correspondent

The 136th Open Golf Championship started today (July 19) at Carnoustie, the first time it has been held at the Scottish course since 1999 and possibly the last time the event will be televised in standard definition and stereo sound.

The four day event is among the largest and most involved live location projects for BBC Outside Broadcasts. Every year players and spectators alike have to brave the variable British weather – which, perhaps predictably, is wet and windy today – but the TV crew has to get pictures and sound back from 18 holes spread out over the countryside.

TV coverage of golf is among the last broadcast sports to go HD but there is a shift towards the technology and next year’s Open at Royal Birkdale in Lancashire could be in HD and 5.1 surround sound. BBC OBs senior sound supervisor Andy James said that coverage would go 5.1 as soon as HD came in. “If it’s not next year it will be the year after,” he said. “The sooner we do it the more chance we have of getting it right.”

Even in stereo the sound for the Open is hard work, largely due to the weather, and calls for a team three times bigger than for most golf coverage. Over the past seven years the Open has gone stereo, particularly for the greens, which, James says, offer the most for surround sound.

The audio infrastructure is ready for 5.1, with three Calrec digital mixing consoles in different scanner vehicles networked over a Hydra Ethernet Network. “We’ll need at least four channels and we could never do that with multicore connections,” James commented.

The transition to HD will also be a major undertaking for the vision department as the Open is shot with approximately 60 cameras. Among these is a Steadicam unit controlled by a camera operator riding a Segway scooter, which made its debut at Hoylake last year. Other camera hardware includes a Jimmy Jib crane and a jib on a buggy.

While many of the cameras and microphones are on wireless links cable is still vital and there is 100 miles of it at Carnoustie.

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