Gearhouse Broadcast Selects Hitachi System Cameras

Equipment-rental and systems-integration company Gearhouse Broadcast has placed a multimillion-pound order with Hitachi Kokusai Electric Europe for system cameras, including the new SK-HD1200. The hire firm was involved in the recent Euro 2012 championships and is gearing up for the Olympics, although the Hitachi cameras will not be delivered in time to be part of that event.

Included in the order are 22 SK-HD1200 1080p/3G production cameras and three SK-HD Supermotion system units. Gearhouse Broadcast Chief Executive John Newton says the Hitachi equipment was chosen after “extensive evaluation of the various system cameras available today”. He adds that the order is a “major capital investment and significant strategic development” for the company. The cameras are due to be delivered in August and will “immediately” be added to the company’s inventory, with live sports coverage the main application area.

Among events that Gearhouse Broadcast will be working on later in the year is ATP tennis. Staff and equipment have recently returned from Poland and Ukraine and are now preparing for the London 2012 Olympics. During the Euro 2012 tournament, the company provided eight technical-operations centres (TOCs) for each of the venues used, four in each host country.

The TOCs housed a 128 squared Snell router, audio and video monitors, embedders/de-embedders, Evertz multiviewers, Tektronix test and measurement devices, and Harris glue equipment. The TOCs were used for monitoring and switching of all host coverage, overseen by UEFA, as well as for multilateral and unilateral broadcasting.

Gearhouse Broadcast also installed what Chief Operating Officer Kevin Moorhouse estimates was 800,000km of cabling, installed by six teams of riggers. All video was carried over fibre, and the cable plan was, Moorhouse says, drawn up during the year-and-a-half run-up to Euro 2012.

In addition to this, the firm looked after the RF distribution in the commentary areas, providing feeds to monitors used by the commentators and reporters in the press areas. Information including statistics and alternative camera angles were fed to the screens using 10-channel modulators.

All feeds were in HD and 5.1 surround sound, with intercom links based on Riedel Artist systems. Moorhouse says SD was supplied to broadcasters that wanted it but there was “low take-up” for the format with Euro 2012.

The TOCs were pre-built in the UK and shipped to the individual venues. Gearhouse Broadcast also built and managed the EVS operational areas at the stadia. These featured 16 EVS workstations and were run by 18 operators, supported by an engineer sent over by the manufacturer. Moorhouse says these areas, unlike the TOCs, were not identical technically because some of the OB trucks they were working with were analogue, so A-D converters had to be installed where necessary.

Levels of redundancy were designed into the systems, which Moorhouse says worked well during the tournament, despite the best efforts of the weather. Both Poland and Ukraine felt the force of massive electrical storms during games, with the only consolation for the Gearhouse Broadcast crews being that the weather was little better back in the UK.


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