The 2008 British Open: Last Call For SD!
By Kevin Hilton
SVG Europe Editor
And then there was one. This weekend’s British Open from Royal Birkdale is the last major global sporting event that has not made the leap to HD. And with rumors circulating that it will be in HD next year this is the last chance for HD owners to complain about less-than-stellar HD images (although they will enjoy widescreen SD images).
The size of the course has been a factor in the BBC deciding not to
present the Open in high definition, even though other major golf
tournaments are televised in HD. The international and domestic feeds
are standard definition and stereo, although a BBC Sport spokeswoman
said the situation was reviewed on an annual basis. “With the amount
of cabling and number of crew involved, golf is an expensive sport and
we have to balance the expectations of the viewers with the value for
money we give them as licence fee payers,” she said.
This year 200km (120 miles) of cable is being used on the course for
approximately 10 hours of live broadcast
each of the
four days of the competition, although the OB and production teams
will have been on site for two weeks by the time this year’s champion
receives the trophy on Sunday. A total of 56 cameras is being used
around the course, including two commentator-cams at the commentary
position, with one locked off and the other having remote pan and
SIS OBs (formerly BBC OBs) is providing three trucks – Units 2, 10 and
11 – plus two mobile control rooms. Other hardware includes nine
camera hoists, the tallest of which can extend to 240 feet, generators
producing 2 Megawatts of power and a blimp-mounted camera for aerial
shots from up to 1000 feet.
When SIS (Satellite Information Services) bought BBC OBs, its chief
executive, David Holdgate, said he wanted to see the outside broadcast
trucks working closely with SISLink uplinking vehicles. For the Open,
SISLink has sent two of its Dual Antenna Uplink vans, one of which is
providing connections for ABC/ESPN, Turner Broadcasting and ESPN
SportsCenter. This truck has two dishes, one a 36MHz SD feed (which
will be up-converted to HD in the US) and a 18MHz SD signal to IS-3; the other is beaming a 18MHz SD feed to Telstar 12.
The two dishes on the second Dual Antenna uplink vehicle, which has
been hired by IMG Media, are handling the World Feed, News Feeds and
TWIi Press Feeds for Eut W1 and two 9MHz feeds on IS-3, respectively.
The World Feed is being distributed to the US, Asia and Europe.
The Open is being seen in 163 different territories on 75 channels
around the world, reaching an estimated total of 582 million homes.
Editing systems are being provided for more than 30 international
broadcasters and the difficult task of following a little white ball
in the sky is being made easier through the use of the Trackman
radar-based virtual reality tracking system.