EMG Group companies Aerial Camera Systems (ACS) and EMG Connectivity (previously Broadcast RF) have been given a four-year extension of their contract with Wimbledon Broadcast Services (WBS), to be the specialist cameras and RF equipment supplier to The Championships, Wimbledon, staged by the All England Club’s annual Championships.
EMG Connectivity has supplied various broadcasters’ RF services over several years but became the exclusive supplier of RF cameras when WBS took over the host broadcasting of The Championships from the BBC in 2018, while ACS has been involved on site for over 20 years.
“When we first started working with the BBC at Wimbledon we only supplied three or four camera systems,” comments Matt Coyde, Sales Director at ACS. “That provision has steadily grown and when WBS took over as host broadcaster they placed additional emphasis on creating unique shots of The Championships by placing more remotes around the Grounds to capture, for example, the crowd atmosphere and the players’ practice areas. This year will be our largest Championships delivery to date, with the supply of 46 SMARThead™ robotic camera channels and 26 operators supported by a small team of technicians and three on-site vision engineers.”
Broadcast standard compact robotic cameras are often preferred at the All England Club’s historic venue in SW19 as their unobtrusive nature minimises space requirements and line of sight issues making their use ideal within the confines of the Grounds. This year, the vast majority of camera systems are either UHD or 1080p HDR for the first time as WBS expands the high-quality format support from Centre Court out to all cameras at The Championships.
Centre Court features some notable specialist units including an ACS SMARThead™ mounted on a 10m railcam positioned along the baseline and housed within a purpose-built hide, whilst another four units are mounted on bespoke camera brackets designed specifically for Wimbledon, including two on the umpire’s chair dedicated to player coverage. In addition to the two tracks in Centre Court and No.1 Court, ACS is also supplying rail systems covering the Southern and Northern courts at the Club.
As well as covering several angles of on-court play, numerous beauty cameras provide contextual coverage of the event and include remote crowd cams, coverage of the player arrivals area, Aorangi practice courts, and Media Theatre, plus topographic venue shots from a hoist-mounted GSS stabilised camera gimbal sitting high above the venue for the iconic overhead shots of the local area and London skyline.
EMG Connectivity is providing a wide range of kit and expertise to both the host and multiple unilateral broadcasters, supported by a crew of six for the fortnight and more for the rig and de-rig of The Championships.
There are 40 antennas site wide which feedback to a central RF cabin in the Broadcast Compound, switched and fed into their appropriate receiver units. This is a cost effective way of multiple area coverage for events such as Wimbledon and golf events such as the Open and the Ryder Cup. A wide area return video system for roving RF monitors is also provided to a number of broadcasters, allowing them to analyse footage from anywhere within the Grounds.
One of the challenges for the EMG Connectivity team is to ensure smooth steadicam RF coverage of the Walk of Champions from the Dressing Rooms to the entrance of Centre Court pre-match. They also cover the champion from Centre Court up the stairs of the Clubhouse, through the corridor to the Dressing Rooms and onto the Members’ balcony to be greeted by the cheering crowd. This requires its own dedicated receive installation with antennas secreted within the walkways and corridors, providing seamless coverage within the building and in addition to the 40 antennas EMG Connectivity have around the Grounds.
“This is the first year that some of the RHBs have returned with onsite presentation to Wimbledon,” says Chris Brandrick, Commercial Director at EMG Connectivity. “It means we will be supplying more RF cameras and RF monitors than ever before. With our seamless wireless connectivity which unites the fans and the players, we are confident we can set the bar higher than ever before.”
“We are delighted to extend our relationship with ACS and EMG Connectivity as we continue to evolve our coverage to provide new standards of quality and innovation in the broadcast of Wimbledon” comments Paul Davies, Head of Broadcast, Production and Media Rights at the All England Club.
The Championships begin on Monday 3 July.
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