FA Cup Final set for HD this weekend

By Kevin Hilton
SVG Europe correspondent

The first FA Cup Final to take place at the new Wembley Stadium in London, and the first to be shot in high definition, will kick off at 3 pm BST on Saturday May 19. HD feeds are being made available to any overseas broadcasters working in the format, although audio for the match will be stereo, not 5.1 surround sound as is common for many mainland European channels.

Host broadcast coverage of the match, between bitter rivals Manchester United and Chelsea, is being produced by BBC Sport, with facilities provided by BBC Outside Broadcasts. The game will be broadcast live on BBC One in standard definition as well as on the broadcaster’s HD test channel.

Production and TV facilities will be in two HD trucks, Units 10 and 12, with the game being shot using 36 cameras. These include four in the studio at the Stadium, a helicopter-mounted camera and a selection of specialised units. Goal Cams, for shots looking out of the net, and two Crowd Cams, wireless devices that can be moved unobtrusively through the audience, are being provided by BBC OB’s Special Cameras team. PoleCams and a Hi-Motion camera are being hired from ACS and Arri Media respectively and, like the main match and presentation cameras, will be in HD, while the Crowd Cams and Goal Cams will be up-converted SD.

BBC OBs will have a team in excess of 70 on site, including engineering managers, riggers, sound supervisors, camera operators and VT editors. Engineering manager Pete Gallosi comments that the new Wembley has presented a challenge, particularly as extra cable is required for this match and the OB compound is underground, meaning cables have to be run outside to allow talkback to work properly.

Two big video screens have been installed in the stadium for match coverage and information but at present the internal TV system is standard definition. An OB truck is hired in to provide control facilities for the in-house system, while broadcasters have access to a TV gantry.

While BBC spokesmen have in the past agreed that 5.1 is the natural partner for HD there has still been no word on the Corporation’s definite plans for Surround Sound in the future. There was no comment as to why the audio for the FA Cup this year was in stereo but there is speculation it is partly due to budgetary considerations.