Gigawave helps SIS LIVE deliver intense America’s Cup action

This year the Americas Cup is 160 years old and racing yacht technology is being pushed to the limit once again. The first race was on the 22nd August 1851 and the yacht ‘America’ beat the British fleet in a race around the Isle of White to win the trophy that now bears its name. This year marks the inaugural event of the Americas Cup World Series. The series kicked off in Portugal on the 6 – 14 August and the next event will be happening in Plymouth, England, on the 10 – 18 September.

SIS LIVE won the contract to provide live on board and streaming facilities to enable the action to be seen as it happens. SIS LIVE worked with Gigawave to design a system that could provide live HD footage from the yachts as they race around the course, enabling for the first time this fantastic race series to be covered across different
media platforms and bring the event to a whole new audience.

Live coverage of the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) is one of the most ambitious projects of its kind ever attempted. The entire production depends entirely on RF cameras ranging from ‘agile’ HD on-board cameras fitted to each of the ten team’s 45 foot catamarans to conventional hand-held cameras on each of four chase boats.

The four ‘agile’ cameras fitted to each catamaran consist of a high definition camera and a remotely controlled pan and tilt head in a waterproof (fully submersible) housing. In addition, integral gyros ensure the horizon remains level, even when one hull is out of the water, or ‘flying’. The four ‘agile’ cameras are strategically located to cover the on-board action as well as the interaction with neighbouring boats.

To compliment the stunning images, each catamaran has fourteen audio channels, each using AAC compression. Five of these are used to provide Dolby 5.1 surround sound, whilst the others carry the audio from individual crew members, each fitted with personal radio microphones.

Digital audio and video signals from each catamaran are fed to a central receive point using a dual encoder transmitter with a 5W power amplifier and a co-linear ‘Blade’ antenna, the latter being mounted at the top of
the mast. All transmitters and receivers feature Gigawave’s ultra-low delay MPEG4 H.264 encoding and two video channels. One of these is used for the operator to ‘preview’ the next shot, whilst the other is used for the on- air signal.

During a race, the on-board ‘agile’ cameras are individually controlled by a team of operators using consoles specially designed by Gigawave engineers. The consoles are capable of controlling all aspects of the camera, including zoom, focus, iris, white balance, etc.. They are also used to switch between the four ‘agile’ cameras fitted to each catamaran.

Finally, Gigawave supplies the digital links used for the two aerial (helicopter) cameras, as well as hand-held Sony 1500R HD cameras on four ‘chase’ boats, two ‘stake’ boats, and the ‘committee’ boat. All of these are ‘racked’ using Gigawave camera control units.

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