Broadcast RF deploys Vislink tech to provide live coverage of the 2015 London Marathon

A scene from the 2015 London Marathon (image credit: Andrew King Photography)

A scene from the 2015 London Marathon (image credit: Andrew King Photography)

When the 2015 London Marathon kicked off on Sunday 26 April, more than 38,000 participants crossed the starting line, making it the biggest in the event’s 35-year history. For the second year in a row, Broadcast RF was there with Vislink equipment to provide continuous live coverage of all 26.2 miles from Blackheath to The Mall.

To ensure top class coverage of every step of the course throughout the day, Broadcast RF and AMP Visual were enlisted by CTV OB and BBC Sport to provide the wireless live feeds for the event, which was viewed by a global audience of millions across 196 countries.

The outside broadcast operation used a combination of fixed cameras at six OB stations, Vislink L1700 transmitters on mobile cameras, two helicopters and a fixed aircraft downlink from 22,000 feet, all linked to a central receive system at a master OB station positioned at Canada Gate.

“It was incredible to witness the dedication and organisation of Broadcast RF, AMP Visual and CTV OB throughout the days of hard work that went on behind the scenes. Vislink equipment was integral to the event coverage and is relied upon to maintain our customer’s professional reputation,” said Robert King, regional sales manager, Vislink.

Broadcast RF utilised Vislink’s 2GHz L1700 wireless camera-mounted transmitters, on five motorbikes that followed the route. Frequency spectrum is in short supply at the marathon, so Broadcast RF chose the L1700 for the MPEG4/H.264 video encoding that provides an excellent picture quality over the limited bandwidth. The L1700 is also lightweight and compact, making it suitable for mobile cameras where space and weight constraints are important factors. Vislink’s proprietary Deep Time Interleaving technology enhanced the robustness of the coverage, with its advanced system of error correction designed to cope seamlessly with interruptions to the link path that inevitably occur with this type of event coverage.

Stationary cameras at the OB station were complimented with hand-held radio cameras using Vislink L1700s, which allowed camera operators to get down next to the runners and do interviews with fun runners, charity runners and celebrities alike.

Two helicopter cameras were also deployed along the route, transmitting video feeds to a fixed wing aircraft circling the route at 22,000 feet. Two RF downlinks delivered the video from the aircraft at 3GHz via Vislink’s proprietary 24MHz wide LMS-T modulation scheme to a customised diversity receiver system at the master OB TV compound.

“With millions of eyes worldwide tuned into the event, it’s important that the operation runs smoothly,” said Chris Brandrick, sales director at Broadcast RF. “Having Vislink as an RF equipment supplier allowed us to build a customised solution for this event. We know that all equipment is compatible with the receiver facility, are in the bandwidth and frequency required, and offers the compression schemes needed to transmit quality images over the congested spectrum. We are always judged on our last performance and our reputation relies on having top quality equipment solutions, to ensure repeat business.”

Ashley Dove, VP of solutions for Vislink, noted: “We have worked with Broadcast RF for many years on a variety of events, and it was very exciting seeing their live coverage of the London Marathon. Vislink was pleased to work with the Broadcast RF Project Manager and engineering team to develop and support the best possible solution to ensure not a minute of the race was missed.”

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