Live from the U.S. Open: BSI’s RF Operations Transform Coverage

One of the major of the Fox Sports golf production team is to bring viewers as much as possible onto the course and this year that means more than two dozen RF cameras from BSI are roaming the course to capture shots that give the viewer a much better sense of what the golfers are seeing as they hit a shot from the fairway, tighter shots that don’t require a long lens shooting from hundreds of yards away, and more. It also wouldn’t be possible without some of the technical innovations in recent years that have made RF rock solid reliable.

Bob Weeks oversees the RF operations for BSI at the U.S. Open.

Bob Weeks oversees the RF operations for BSI at the U.S. Open.

“RF is digital today and the technology is improved so the unease over using too much RF is diminishing as the technology is more and more reliable,” says Peter Larsson, BSI, general manager. “And it is also bringing more flexibility to the show as a big lens on a tethered camera is great but it’s still tethered.”

Bob Weeks, BSI, golf operations supervisor, says BSI has three trucks on site and a production team of 12 overseeing 26 RF cameras, 14 RF talent mics, 14 RF effects mics and five additional RF talent mics for the international feed. There are also more than 470 RF radios on the course.

“The normal golf show is between 6 and 12 RF cameras so this is head and shoulders above that,” adds Larsson.

A key enabling technology is the deployment of BSI receivers and Link decoders at 12 receive sites on the course. Those receive sites are then fibered back to the truck compound, improving the reliability greatly as there is no longer the need to constantly orient antennas toward a receive site on a crane on the course. In addition, if a receive site is lost the diversity of the network allows for the signal to still arrive in the BSI truck in the compound in perfect shape.

A look at the area inside one of the BSI trailers at the U.S. Open where all on-course signals can be monitored for quality control.

A look at the area inside one of the BSI trailers at the U.S. Open where all on-course signals can be monitored for quality control.

“Inherent in analog is the need for line of site to the receive site but now we just put out the BSI box and a couple of antennas,” adds Larsson. “And the USGA is happy because it limits the number of people inside the ropes.”

Link 1500 transmitters are attached to the back of the Sony cameras and send out the RF signals to the receive sites as well as a data receiver that provides CCU control of the cameras in the compound. One RF frequency has enough room to handle all of the incoming data with different code addresses for each camera.

“This is definitely one of the biggest shows for us so to be able to come in and provide the Fox production team with the tools they need is very gratifying,” says Larsson.