NEW CAMERA INNOVATIONS FOR WORLD GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2009


Billed as the Greatest Gymnastics show on earth the World Championships came to the O2 Arena in October with 437 gymnasts making it one of the biggest events of its kind ever. The O2 played a perfect host to the event with unprecedented BBC coverage, spectators packed to the rafters and a perfect “warm-up” to the Olympics in three years where the Arena will be home to the Gymnastic and basketball events.
SIS LIVE provided the production facilities for BBC Sport at the O2 Arena during the four day event and were on the floor introducing a number of innovative new camera positions for the coverage of the finals.
David Meynell, Managing Director, SIS LIVE, says: “The World Gymnastics Championships is a prestigious event that is held in the same venue that will hold the gymnastics in 2012 and this proved to be a good testing ground for some exciting technical innovations. BBC Sport wanted to introduce a number of new camera angles and SIS LIVE’s inhouse Special Cameras team was able to come up with some great practical solutions. This included special tracking cameras high in the ceiling of the O2 Arena, other tracking cameras for specific events and, for the first time, pan and tilt cameras on the podiums. We’re really pleased that the special cameras added so much to the overall coverage of the Championships.”
SIS LIVE’s Special Cameras team created an overhead tracking system above the apparatus. Normally, there might have been a fixed pan and tilt camera positioned above a piece of apparatus. SIS LIVE built instead a tracking system with one pan and tilt camera that was able to create a racking shot from one apparatus to the next. The camera tracked gymnasts overhead on the vault horse, the parallel bars and the asymmetric and high bars. It could also provide replay angles of all the other apparatus as well.
Paul McNeil, Manager, Special Cameras, SIS LIVE, says: “The technology is a first for gymnastics. It is one pan and tilt camera instead of three, which is a cost saving, and you get more for your money because it is a tracking shot.”
The second innovation was a vertical 4 metre high column supporting another pan and tilt camera, which could be wheeled between different apparatus. Any big move had to happen overnight, though it could be shifted round for different apparatus close to each other. The camera followed gymnasts as they went through their routines on the floor or the rings, beam, vault, floor and pommel. The system, which was designed and built inhouse by the Special Cameras team, can also be tilted at any angle, for tracking shots horizontally or for following gymnasts up and down stairs. It was also able to offer a great angle for the vault replay, as well as extra live images.
The final innovation was a number of wireless camera pods that were mounted on the apparatus podiums, the first time cameras had been allowed on the podiums with gymnasts. “What they give you are shots close to the apparatus and looking straight up at the gymnasts. They give you a different perspective. They were only used for one VT replay each time, but added to the drama because they were close to the event. They were in the field of play for the first time,” McNeil says.
SIS LIVE had 25 other cameras on site to cover the Championships with three large OB vehicles. Unit 10 was used to produce the host broadcaster coverage, Unit 11 was used to produce the BBC Domestic coverage and Unit 12 was hired to Japan’s Fuji TV for their own coverage. SIS LIVE also provided two satellite uplink vehicles at the event. Link 16 was used to provide Unilateral coverage for TV Globo Brazil with a satellite link direct to Rio. Link 21 was used to receive the radio camera signals from the Pod cameras & RF camera and to provide dual path digital radio links to Crystal Palace for the Host coverage and BBC Domestic transmissions.
From a gymnastics point of view the icing on the cake for the event were medals for Brits Daniel Keatings and Beth Tweddle winning silver and gold respectively.
About SIS
SIS is one of the world’s leading companies in the television broadcasting industry. It is the foremost supplier of television programming and data services to the UK and Ireland betting industry. The company’s broadcast business, SIS LIVE, has the largest satellite uplink fleet in Europe and is the largest outside broadcast provider in the UK. It offers a complete broadcasting solution from onsite outside broadcast facilities through to global distribution and IP provision. The company covers 100,000 hours of live events worldwide each year, including Formula One, The Wimbledon championships, UEFA Champions League football and European Tour Golf, and delivers approximately 80% of live news feeds across the UK.
Please visit www.sislive.tv for more information.

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