Following Boston Marathon Horror, Mobile-Production Vendors Safe But Stranded

Brandon Costa and Karen Hogan contributed to this report.

Following yesterday’s horrific events at the Boston Marathon, SVG has confirmed that all personnel working the television broadcast from CSP Mobile Productions, CP Communications, and the Green Line Group came away safe and uninjured.

Two bombs went off near the marathon’s finish line just before 3 p.m. ET Monday, leaving three dead and more than 170 injured, including as many as 17 individuals who remain in critical condition at area hospitals. The blasts occurred more than two hours after the first of the race’s nearly 27,000 runners had crossed the finish line and well after live international, domestic, and local telecasts of the marathon had concluded around 1 p.m.

“Our [primary truck] RF5 was closed up and ready to go at about 3 p.m.,” says Kurt Heitmann, SVP, sales and marketing, CP Communications. “They were shutting the doors when the bombs went off. But, after that, they locked the truck and were told to go to a safe location a couple blocks down. Everyone was accounted for within a half hour after the bombs [went off]. We’re just glad everyone is safe.”

On Hand in Boston
This year’s marathon was the first to be produced entirely in HD (1080i60). NBC Sports Group’s Universal Sports Network carried the live world feed, and local CBS affiliate WBZ-TV produced its own live coverage. New England-based mobile-production-services outfits CSP Mobile Productions and the Green Line Group provided the HD remote-production facilities for the coverage.

Meanwhile, CP Communications handled the complex wireless RF aspects, covering a 26.2-mile race over hilly terrain and an ultra-crowded RF spectrum. In addition to rolling out its RF5 truck, CP deployed two on-course motorcycles with RF cameras, two on-course trucks with Cineflex camera systems, and a slow-flying airplane. CP set up six receive sites along the route, all feeding to a central receive site atop the Prudential Center tower and then to RF5.

Staying Put for Now
Although the production teams came away from the tragedy unharmed, their facilities remain stranded inside the 12-square-block lockdown zone established by federal and Boston authorities as part of their investigation.

“With the 12-block lockdown, our trucks can’t get out of there,” says Heitmann. “We can’t get trucks out or the gear out of the Prudential [Center]. So it’s really putting us in a situation where our trucks are stuck. It’s in lockdown: nobody comes in, nobody goes out. We’re trying to get in touch with authorities now. At this point, RF5 is within the 12-block corridor for the lockdown.”

RF5 was scheduled to depart Boston at 4 p.m. to return to CP’s field shop in Fishkill, NY, in order to be overhauled for the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, which begins on May 9. However, it is now stranded in the Back Bay area of Boston as authorities continue to investigate the situation.

“This week was going to be about switching out the gear on RF5,” says Heitmann. “A marathon is a unique show compared to a golf tournament, parade, or corporate event. Those are just video and audio that is all received and distributed from the truck. But a marathon like in Boston has [many locations], so all the transmission equipment for those hops is installed in RF5. So we tear out all the normal video equipment and put in the marathon equipment.

“It takes us about a week to prep [the truck] for a marathon and about a week to bring it back and rebuild it for the next show,” he continues. “At this point, we’re just waiting to see when we get can the truck back so we can get started on [preparations] for TPC [Sawgrass].”