ELMSFORD, N.Y. — Thirty-four RF cameras, including five RF 4K HDR transmitters, three RF X-Mo cameras and an RF Steadicam for Fox Sports as well as four RF HD cameras for international broadcasters like Sky and TV Asahi is a lot of RF for one company to handle.
But that’s exactly what CP Communications accomplished at the 118th U.S. Open Championship, June 12–17, at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. While CP Communications has played a significant role over the past three years, this year’s championship was the first time the Elmsford, N.Y., live event solutions and services provider has been entrusted with all RF transmission responsibilities.
“The sheer scale and enormity of the U.S. Open inspired Fox Sports, the domestic rights holder and primary broadcaster for the event, to split RF responsibilities among two vendors in previous years,” said Kurt Heitmann, CEO, CP Communications.
However, this year, CP Communications was given full responsibility for RF at the event because of its past performance and enhancements of its 4K production capabilities, he added.
CP Communications also managed 38 miles of fiber, an MIMO mesh control system for entire course coverage, which the company said is the largest-ever mesh deployment for golf, and a Dante audio network from Audinate with 56 RF intercom channels (using an RTS ADAM system) and 40 RF microphones across 18 holes.
Its team was responsible for signal distribution, routing and troubleshooting between three CP Communications mobile trucks, two broadcast compounds and remote RF Communications Center, the company said.
A variety of CP Communications resources were assigned to the event, including the company’s HD-11 and HD-21 flagship RF production trucks and its RF8 Fiver B-Unit truck, used for Fox’ fiber-optic and communications systems.
HD-11 and HD-21 were located adjacent to one another in the main broadcast center used by Fox Sports to produce more than 40 hours of live content across four channels each day for broadcasters in more than 140 countries. The compound was split this year, separated by more than 3,000 feet, to give Fox Sports more space for on-course technologies and staff.
The remote RF communications center was set up near Hole 13 for managing and routing intercom channels and other audio, including 600 portable radios across more than 40 channels all tied back to the two broadcast compounds.
Both HD-11 and HD-21 rely on RF routers with a fiber interface to allow the trucks to work together. Each also uses MultiDyne VF-9000 fiber transmission platforms to accept 3Gbps (4K) and HD camera feeds natively over RF from Sony cameras in the field. The signals remained in pure RF across the entire architecture before being handed to the Fox Sports team in raw form.
Handling the feeds from the 4K cameras required a special crew to monitor and troubleshoot problems when they arose. “With the 4K cameras operating in 64QAM and running 32 Mbps, we were managing a very large data payload to enable the best possible 4K and HDR pictures,” said Heitmann.
“If we noticed a trailing effect in the motion of a golf swing, for example, we adjusted the data rate down to 28 Mbps so that the Wave Central RF encoders and decoders could keep up with the movements, and better manage the payload.”
For more information visit the CP Communications website.