Gearhouse brings Hitachi SK1200s to the Australian Open

The big news at the Australian Open from a behind-the-scenes production perspective is the very large role Hitachi SK1200 cameras are playing throughout the facility. Production equipment rental company Gearhouse Broadcast inked a major deal with Hitachi at IBC and the Australian Open, which ends this weekend, is the most high-profile event to embrace camera technology that has typically not been found at the world’s largest sporting events.

“We’re the first organization to go out and buy a lot of them and we have 66 of them here and they work really well,” says Kevin Moorhouse (pictured), Gearhouse Broadcast, COO. “They sent two support engineers but they have not done much which is great because we want this to be a success.”

Gearhouse Broadcast is at the centre of the Australian Open TV production compound as its gear is in use by Channel Seven Australia, ESPN, Tennis Channel, and for the world feed (which is produced by Channel Seven). The tournament began on January 14 but much of the equipment was shipped out of England via boat in early November so it could arrive by December 28.

Other highlights of the equipment complement include two Ikegami NAC hi-motion cameras and a Snell Kahuna vision mixer that is being used for producing the world feed from Rod Laver Arena for the fourth year in a row.

“We literally have all of our vision mixers hear as along with the Kahuna there are Sony 7000 mixers and Kayenne, Kayak, and Sony MVS6530 mixers,” says Moorhouse. “But the guys have used the Kahuna for the past four years and they really like it.”

Also in use are 70 EVS servers (mostly XT3 units with a couple of XT2 for SD ingest), 60 Canon lenses, two Fujinon lenses, Lawo and Yamaha audio desks, and a mix of Sennheiser microphones. Robotic cameras from Camera Corps, Sony, and Hitachi are also used to get beauty shots from around the grounds and Melbourne.

As the backbone for four of the major global outlets for Australian Open coverage, Gearhouse has plenty of staff on site, with 30 engineers (both men and women) on hand to make sure things operate smoothly. After 8 days of set up and three days of testing it was time for two weeks of transmission. And break down has already begun as most of the seven TV courts have gone dark.

“By next Wednesday everything will be gone,” adds Moorhouse.  “About 30% of the gear will go straight to the States for [a tournament] in Indian Wells, CA and then on to Miami and Monte Carlo. Some of this gear does not get back to London very often.”

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