Live From The Open: AVS Digs Deep With Bunker Cams, Wireless Systems

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Aerial Video Systems’ involvement with The Open, and the company is providing IMG Media and ESPN more wireless audio systems and bunker-camera systems than ever.

“We had a big haul here, as more than 95% of the gear had to come from the U.S.,” says AVS founder/President Randy Hermes. “There are just a few of the systems here in the UK at our office in York.”

AVS installed five bunker cameras on the Old Course, with the help of the groundskeepers earlier this year. The fiber cabling between the bunker cameras and control boxes required tubing, some of it as long as 75 meters, to be buried under the course.

AVS team members (from left) Will Norris, Michael Rivas, Craig Bradbury, and Ron Malo monitor first-day action.

AVS team members (from left) Will Norris, Michael Rivas, Craig Bradbury, and Ron Malo monitor first-day action.

“They put in all the [tubing] for us,” says Hermes. “We got here and just had to pull the cables and hook it all up.”

Toshiba is the camera of choice for the bunker cameras, and Audio-Technica mics are in the bunkers as well. The small control boxes house a battery, audio preamp, phantom power supply, an audio embedder, and a Telecast Rattler fiber-optic converter.

In terms of wireless audio systems, AVS is supplying IFBs and camera PLs for ESPN, along with six Sennheiser shotgun mics for effects, five mics for roving talent, two more for ESPN’s ITV show, and four parabolic-mic systems. Wireless video systems include nine RF cameras (with camera heads provided by CTV Outside Broadcast), and five main receive sites help get those camera signals back from across the course. One of the receive sites is actually located off the course on Golf Lane at the Dunvegan Hotel Bar, a famed haunt for caddies. The location allows live shots from one of the most iconic streets in St. Andrews.

“It’s a links course, so it is pretty wide open,” Hermes explains. “Plus the frequency coordination has been very good.”

AVS expertise in wireless-signal management also has it at the center of signal transport of shots from a plane flying over the course as well as from a drone.

“Broadcast RF is handling the path from the drone,” says Hermes, “and then we relay that signal back to the compound.”

All told, AVS has nine people working at The Open, making sure that the wireless systems are working properly and also that they integrate properly with the extensive fiber infrastructure installed by The Royal & Ancient Golf Club.

“The fiber infrastructure here is a good thing,” says Hermes. “We only had to run some additional cable this year.”

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