Aerial Video Systems Goes The Distance With The Los Angeles Marathon

On Memorial Day Morning, May 25, 2009, Aerial Video Systems (AVS) continued its long-running tradition of providing the wireless camera feeds for KNBC4–LA’s live broadcast of the Los Angeles Marathon. For the production of the 24th annual LA Marathon, AVS utilized the latest technology from Link Research and MRC.

The Link HD/SD 1500 and MRC PTX-Pro microwave systems transmitted both video and audio signals from custom-designed motorcycle sidecars to helicopter-based repeaters and back to the receive site in the Hollywood hills, where it was returned to Mira Mobile’s M-6 53-foot digital expando truck via fiber.

This year, race organizers changed the date from the usual Sunday morning in March to Memorial Day. Although it was a holiday, the local news operations were in full swing with their regularly-scheduled Monday morning programming. This situation prevented the broadcasters from sharing their 2GHz frequencies with AVS, creating a lack of frequency options in a market already frequency challenged. Pulling from its inventory of Link and MRC microwave gear, AVS carefully selected strategic frequencies in the 1.4, 2.0, 2.5 and 7.0 GHz bands to deliver crystal-clear images.

“The RF coverage was outstanding,” says Phil Olsman, executive producer of the L.A. Marathon for NBC.

This year marked the 6th annual “LA Marathon Challenge,” which provides the elite women with an approximately 20-minute head start over the elite men. The time differential sets up a dramatic race to the finish line between the elite men and women with the winner picking up a bonus of $100,000 in prize money.

To capture the progress and excitement of the Challenge, AVS developed a GPS-driven marathon course map plotting the exact locations of the lead female and male runners and their relative positions to each other. This allows the viewing audience to experience the drama of the Challenge and the fight to the finish line.

“This keeps the viewers involved throughout the three-hour broadcast,” says Herb Chapin, designer of the tracking program.

This GPS tracking system is a proprietary technology of AVS and developed specifically for the LA Marathon.

The 2009 L.A. Marathon was broadcast live on KNBC4-LA and streamed live on nbcla.com. A tape-delayed broadcast was carried on Universal Sports, which is carried via cable by more than 45 million homes across the nation.

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