Queen Elizabeth II of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland
came to the throne in 1953. This
was just seven years after the
BBC’s 405 line television service
went back on air following its
World War II suspension.
The ACS sacrarium shot
The Coronation caused a
surge in TV set ownership and
since the 50s the popularity of
the medium has grown rapidly.
The popularity of the Royal
Family has, by contrast, suffered
a gradual decline. Still, this last
fact didn’t stop the wedding
of Elizabeth’s grandson Prince
William to Kate Middleton from
being a massive TV event.
The BBC took the lead and
provided/organized the bulk of
the equipment and facilities for
the pool coverage. These central
feeds were available to all UK and
international broadcasters, most
of whom brought in additional
gear to tailor coverage for their
own style and needs.
The BBC’s former outside
broadcast department is now
part of SIS LIVE. It claimed
to be the main supplier of
facilities – including eight HD
trucks, 60 camera channels,
13 radio cameras with seven
data control systems, 32 vision
circuits (terrestrial radio-links,
satellite links and fiber networks),
58 uplinks, and five uplink
production trucks, with a total
satellite capacity of more than
500MHz. SIS LIVE also installed
two presentation studios with
full facilities, and supplied all RF
communications; including 32
UHF radio talkback systems and
a further 35 intercom circuits
working on fiber or satellite.
Video facilities for
international coverage within
the Westminster Abbey came
from NEP Visions. Audio for the
international broadcast feed
from the Abbey was mixed in
both 5.1 and stereo using the
128-channel Stagetec Cantus
digital console in SIS LIVE’s
MasterSound sound mobile. The
mixes were embedded with the
outgoing video signals.
As evocative as the music
and the vows were, pictures
are even more important in a
broadcast like this. Viewers now expect full coverage, which is where special
cameras come in. Aerial Camera Systems (ACS)
supplied 16 of the 23 camera positions inside
the Abbey for the BBC’s pool coverage.
Equipment for this location included
12 channels of Sony P1s and four Ikegami
HDL51s, plus ACS’s SMARThead remote tilt
and pan system. Two remote heads were
fitted with 40 X lenses. ASC also
installed a camera high above
the Sacrarium overlooking the
aisle and altar, which was for the
first time seen in HDTV.
Another new angle showed
the bells of the Abbey ringing
out at the end of the service.
Fourteen cameras inside the
Abbey were mounted on
brackets specially designed and built by SIS
LIVE. Outside, ACS had a HD Cineflex V14 on a
stabilized mount, for aerial shots of the crowd
and the balcony at Buckingham Palace.
Coverage for UK commercial broadcaster
ITV was produced through news provider
ITN. While ITV took the main pool feed for the
wedding service, ITN organized 60 cameras
along the route. It also had some additional
positions in the Abbey, a few of which were
shared with the BBC and Sky.
The exterior of the PacTV site
The majority of facilities for ITN were
provided by OB company Prolink Television.
These included its new HD OB truck positioned
at Canada Gate not far from Buckingham
Palace. A second vehicle was located at the
The ITN studio at Canada Gate was
equipped with four Ikegami HD cameras and
two Sony radio cameras. An additional cabled
camera covered Clarence House, official
residence to Prince Charles and – until 2009
– Prince William and his
brother/best man, Prince
Harry. Another studio
at the Abbey housed
three Ikegamis, with a
roving Sony radio camera.
Prolink Director Michael
Dugard commented that
– excluding the wedding
service – his company
originated nine hours of pictures.
BSkyB had originally wanted to achieve
a Royal first by covering the entire wedding
in 3D. Permission to shoot 3D inside the
Abbey was refused but Sky had four rigs
with ARRI ALEXA cameras, supplied by Axis
Films (OnSight), outside the Abbey and
at Buckingham Palace and Canada Gate.
This stereoscopic material was used for a
highlights program shown on the Tuesday
after the wedding.
“We were desperate to get some 3D
involvement in an event as important as this,”
said Darren Long, Director of Operations at
Sky Sports who oversees OBs. “Although we
didn’t get permission to film inside the Abbey
purely because of space constraints, we did
get permission from Clarence House to at
least capture some of the pageantry from a
spectator’s point of view.”
PacTV’s London studio
Most of the UK’s major OB companies
had units out for the big day, including CTV
and Telegenic. One OB unit was stationed in
London, providing roving cameras and live
feeds. Another provided similar coverage from
St Andrews University in Fife, Scotland, where
William and Kate first met as students.
Eight SNG trucks, three flyaway packages,
and a TVRO receive-only dish were positioned
at sites around London. They included the
Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Goring
Hotel, which is where the first views of Kate’s wedding dress came through
pool feeds. Arqiva also laid on
seven trans-Atlantic fiber circuits.
Arena Television supplied
both scanners and helicopters.
On the ground were the
company’s OB12 and the new
OB14, which went into operation
at the end of March. This single
expanding articulated truck is
the first scanner in the UK to
house a Lawo audio console. The
two trucks covered the Horse
Guards Parade end of the Mall
through to Parliament Square. In
the air, Arena Aviation provided
two helicopters equipped with
Robinson HD packages shooting
footage for the news pool.
Transmission and facilities
company Arqiva contributed
SNG units, satellite capacity, and
teleports as well as OB facilities.
Working for seven leading
broadcasters, the company
supplied over 115MHz of satellite
space, delivering 59 separate
The Royal Wedding was
the biggest event so far for
the London office of LA-based
company Pacific Television
Center (PacT V ). HD and
SD signals were losslessly
compressed in the JPEG2000
format for distribution to
Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
Japan, and the US. Canadian
station Global TV rented a 45Mb
connection to multiplex feeds
from a three camera studio
outside Buckingham Palace.
Graphics for many broadcasters were produced by specialist
company MOOV using the Chyron Hyper X3 platform.
Associated Press Television
News (APTN) claimed to be the
first news agency with live HD
footage of the event, which
was distributed to over 700 TV
stations. Ten hours of coverage
was made available to news
channels through a satellite
network leased for the occasion.
Graphics for many
broadcasters on the day – including the BBC, ESPN, RTE, ITV,
Channel 4, and Sky Italia – were
produced by specialist company
MOOV using the Chyron Hyper
X3 platform. One system was
installed at the studio farm
outside Buckingham Palace, with
another in a temporary facility
near the Abbey.
The graphics package was
used to put information on
screen about the wedding guests
and the locations involved in the
Wedding. Animated maps were
also created to show the route
taken by the bride to tie the knot.
The whole production was
substantially bigger and more
technically advanced than when
William’s parents, Prince Charles
and the late Diana, Princess of
Wales, married in 1981. But it fell
short in terms of viewer numbers.
Back then the UK audience was
28.4 million, compared to 26.2m
this time. Still, the broadcasters
probably concluded that pulling
in 26.2 million viewers was well
worth the effort.