From Wales to Manaus: World Cup cameras get final checks

Sony technicians are busy rigging the technical production areas at the twelve World Cup stadia and ready to take delivery of the final piece of the jigsaw — the cameras. Some 288 HD units are traveling all the way from Pencoed (between Swansea and Cardiff), where Sony’s UK Technology Centre is based, and it’s fair to say the facility is pretty proud of the fact.

“This is a contract that our competitors would have wanted, but we won it and it’s happening here in the UK — in Wales — so it’s absolutely fantastic,” says General Manager Rob Wilson (pictured, right).

The contract was awarded by FIFA host broadcaster HBS for provision of technical facilities for the 2014 tournament. Ahead of kick-off, every single camera being used to capture the 2500 hours of live action was required to pass through Pencoed for test and calibration before being shipped to South America.

The equipment is for the most part seasoned kit that has already been used for outside broadcasts in the UK. “All the cameras have different standards and settings according to whether they’ve been in situ at the Emirates and other Premiership grounds [Upton Park, Anfield etc],” explains Wilson. “We have to make sure they all align to one single standard suitable for each of the twelve stadia in Brazil. When they return we have to do the reverse and put them all back to the customer specifications.”

Pencoed only had seven days to turn around all 288 units, including camera units and remote control panels (RCPs). With each unit taking 40-50 minutes to test the pressure is on to reach the 40 a day target.

“When kit comes into the centre we split it out into groups for the twelve stadium venues, with 31 cameras per stadia” says Wilson. “There are 4000 individual parts to keep track of and ship to Brazil.”

Each camera unit is given an identical set of 50 checks at one of four test stations and will be configured and tested for video, audio and intercom. Tests include recalibration to cope with magnetic field distortion as they cross the equator.

“When I sit back and watch at the matches live from Brazil at home I will think we had an impact on that,” says Wilson. “I’ll be so proud of all the people who take so much care and attention to ensure this World Cup will be recorded perfectly.”

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