The 2008 British Open: Last Call For SD!

By Kevin Hilton
SVG Europe Editor

And then there was one. This weekend’s British Open from Royal Birkdale is the last major global sporting event that has not made the leap to HD. And with rumors circulating that it will be in HD next year this is the last chance for HD owners to complain about less-than-stellar HD images (although they will enjoy widescreen SD images).

The size of the course has been a factor in the BBC deciding not to

present the Open in high definition, even though other major golf

tournaments are televised in HD. The international and domestic feeds

are standard definition and stereo, although a BBC Sport spokeswoman

said the situation was reviewed on an annual basis. “With the amount

of cabling and number of crew involved, golf is an expensive sport and

we have to balance the expectations of the viewers with the value for

money we give them as licence fee payers,” she said.

This year 200km (120 miles) of cable is being used on the course for

approximately 10 hours of live broadcast

coverage during

each of the

four days of the competition, although the OB and production teams

will have been on site for two weeks by the time this year’s champion

receives the trophy on Sunday. A total of 56 cameras is being used

around the course, including two commentator-cams at the commentary

position, with one locked off and the other having remote pan and

tilt.

SIS OBs (formerly BBC OBs) is providing three trucks – Units 2, 10 and

11 – plus two mobile control rooms. Other hardware includes nine

camera hoists, the tallest of which can extend to 240 feet, generators

producing 2 Megawatts of power and a blimp-mounted camera for aerial

shots from up to 1000 feet.

When SIS (Satellite Information Services) bought BBC OBs, its chief

executive, David Holdgate, said he wanted to see the outside broadcast

trucks working closely with SISLink uplinking vehicles. For the Open,

SISLink has sent two of its Dual Antenna Uplink vans, one of which is

providing connections for ABC/ESPN, Turner Broadcasting and ESPN

SportsCenter. This truck has two dishes, one a 36MHz SD feed (which

will be up-converted to HD in the US) and a 18MHz SD signal to IS-3; the other is beaming a 18MHz SD feed to Telstar 12.

The two dishes on the second Dual Antenna uplink vehicle, which has

been hired by IMG Media, are handling the World Feed, News Feeds and

TWIi Press Feeds for Eut W1 and two 9MHz feeds on IS-3, respectively.

The World Feed is being distributed to the US, Asia and Europe.

The Open is being seen in 163 different territories on 75 channels

around the world, reaching an estimated total of 582 million homes.

Editing systems are being provided for more than 30 international

broadcasters and the difficult task of following a little white ball

in the sky is being made easier through the use of the Trackman

radar-based virtual reality tracking system.