Historic all-HD Masters underway on CBS

This year’s coverage of The Masters has literally been a long haul for CBS as the network laid down approximately 300,000 feet of fiber cable throughout the course to get it ready for an all-HD telecast.

“Our handheld cameras this year are truly HD and in golf 60% of the telecast is shot on the handhelds so this is a really big deal,” says Ken Aagaard, CBS Sports SVP Operations and Production Services.

The need for fiber is the result of an Augusta policy that prevents installing microwave transmission towers on the course. As a result all camera signals are feed via cable. Prior to this year the infrastructure was triax cable but CBS swapped out and replaced it with fiber so HD signals could be distributed over longer distances.

Nick Muro, CBS field technical manager, handled the project and the logistics of physically ripping out the old triax conduit network and snaking in fiber. Telecast Fiber was involved in the fabrication and design of the system and it also uses proprietary connector technology designed to minimize the impact dirt has on fiber optic transmission.

“They’re expanded beam connectors which basically have a lens on the end of the fiber optic cable that fans the light out and on the receive end the light beam is focused back down,” says Muro. Between now and next year CBS will also test the network by shooting light down each path and measuring the loss on the other side. Loss of less than 2dB is acceptable.

CBS will use 53 HD cameras on the telecast, 41 from Sony and 12 from Ikegami. Forty-three will be stationary cameras while 10 will be roving handhelds. Those cameras will send signals to three production trucks: NEP’s SS24 (the primary truck), NMT’s HD1 (covering the back nine) and F&F Productions’ GTX12 truck.

“The PGA Championship and Augusta are the only tournaments where we have a separate production truck for the front nine and back nine,” says Aagaard. “All our other tournaments are done out of one truck.”

Here’s a quick look at the gear in the trucks:

NEP Supershooters SS24: SS24HD is comprised of two 53-foot double expando trailers and will serve as the main production truck for the Masters coverage. It features the largest control room on the road today with one 138 color monitors in the wall and a Sony MVS 8000 Switcher with internal DVE and an HD DVEous. The tape room can handle up to 10 two-camera networked EVS HD LSM systems and six to eight VTRs. It carries 14 Sony HDC/900/950 cameras with Canon lenses capable of operating natively in 1080i. On the audio side it features a Calrec Alpha 5.1 Digital Audio Console with full complement of audio processing gear.

F&F Productions GTX12: The 53-foot expando truck is centered around a Grass Valley Kalypso production switcher, Abekas DVEous Dual Twin DVE, and Grass Valley Trinix HD router (128×128). Graphics include a Chyron Duet LEX while cameras include the Ikegami HDK79E with Fujinon lenses and Vinten pan heads and tripods. Four four-channel EVS LSM systems are used for replay along with Panasonic and Sony decks. A Yamaha PM ID digital audio board and a complement of Sennheiser microphones are used for audio. Transmission gear includes an Evertz master timecode generator, Teranex Volare 220 standards converter, and 75 AJA RH10 MO HD downconverters.

NMT HD 1: This truck is also centered around a Grass Valley Kalypso HD switcher and DVEous effects along with 6 Sony HDC-910 HD studio cameras with Fujinon lenses. Routing is handled by an NVision 646×64 HD router and graphics are run on Chyron Duet LEX systems with upconverters (like the GTX12). Replay is handled by three EVS four-channel LSM-HD systems and three Sony HDCam VTRs. The audio gear includes an SSL Aysis AirPlus digital console with 64 inputs.
As if the all-HD coverage isn’t unique enough CBS Sports is streaming live video from holes 11, 12, and 13 (otherwise known as Amen Corner) to Sportsline.com and Masters.org. Mike Arnold, who directs the NFL “A” game for CBS, will work with the 12 cameras located around those holes and make the video available on

“We’ll have guys covering every shot,” says Aagaard.

And while the tournament ends this Sunday early next week CBS begins the hardwork of getting ready for next year. First up? Announcing which truck vendor has won the bid for a new golf production truck that will hit the road next year.