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Down converting Wimbledon with 135 of Crystal Vision's Q-Downs

Europe’s largest provider of outside broadcast and uplink facilities SIS LIVE has purchased another 36 of the Q-Down183-A down converters from Crystal Vision for its coverage of the Wimbledon tennis championships, with the entire event being covered in HD for the first time this year.

SIS LIVE is providing all the HD technical facilities to host broadcaster BBC Sport for its coverage of Wimbledon, covering matches on nine courts at the Grand Slam tennis tournament which takes place in London between 22nd June and 5th July. SIS LIVE is providing four OB units, as well as eight outgoing circuits from the site which are being relayed to BBC Television Centre for the domestic and interactive operations, plus international circuits.

SIS LIVE already owned 99 Q-Downs and needed another 36 of the Crystal Vision down converters due to the large number of discrete feeds involved. The Q-Downs are located in the On Site Central Apparatus Room (OSCAR) at Wimbledon – SIS LIVE’s primary distribution point – as well as in the OB 12 Outside Broadcast vehicle where the Centre Court mixer is located. The Q-Downs are being fed a mixture of HD 1080i and SD 625 signals, with the down converted feeds used either for recording or direct broadcast. The Q-Downs are also being used to provide equalization and reclocking of the HD signals.

Well-known for its short processing delay of just 16 lines, the Q-Down183-A provides eight reclocked loop-throughs of an HD or SD input, along with three Standard Definition outputs individually selectable between analog (as composite, Y/C, YUV and RGB) and digital. SIS LIVE selected the Q-Down-A version because of its embedded audio handling which makes it ideal as a main signal path down converter, while Q-Down-A’s variable delay of up to one frame allows SIS LIVE to delay the other feeds by 50 lines to match the down converter delay from the Sony camera.

Explained George Bowler, Vision Control and Maintenance Supervisor of OB 12, “The Q-Down is a super product that fills a very important gap in both fixed and mobile applications. Crystal Vision are pro-active in finding out what the customer wants from a product, and if they can customise their products for you they will, without fuss. They are approachable without being bureaucratic or overbearing.” The RM45 frame rear module was originally developed following a request from George Bowler last year, to allow him to configure the exact outputs he needed from his Q-Downs.

SIS LIVE is using much of its already-owned Crystal Vision equipment for its Wimbledon coverage, including the LKEY HD High Definition linear keyer to provide score keying on the outside courts.

The Q-Downs were also used in the BBC Sport Hawkeye operation at Queen’s Club tennis tournament at the beginning of June. Future applications will see the down converters being used for any Outside Broadcast or fly away job undertaken by SIS LIVE.

SIS acquired the company formerly known as BBC Outside Broadcasts in 2008 and combined it with satellite link provider SISLink to create SIS LIVE, which has the largest satellite uplink fleet in Europe and is the largest outside broadcast provider in the UK. SIS LIVE covers 100,000 hours of live events worldwide each year, including Formula One, The Wimbledon Championships, UEFA Champions League football and European Tour Golf, and delivers approximately 80% of live news feeds across the UK.

Based at Whittlesford near Cambridge in the UK, Crystal Vision provides digital keyers, picture storage modules and a full range of interface equipment including converters, synchronizers, distribution amplifiers and audio embedders to the professional broadcasting industry worldwide.