Volvo Ocean Race

The Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s premier offshore race, an exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endeavor, which started 40 years ago as the Whitbread round the World Race.

IMG, host broadcaster for the 2011-12 race, awarded Timeline Television the contract to provide all the broadcast and technical facilities to for the Volvo Ocean race. A significant challenge of the contract was to provide a fully featured HD production and edit flyaway kit that would pack into four jumbo jet container pods.

The end to end solution involves two roaming cameras, two radio camera chase boats and a heli-tele as well as the fixed shore camera which are fed back into the production & sound control rooms. EVS for replays, 3D and FCP edit suites complete the lineup.

Timeline TV’s RF team was given the challenge of providing live radio camera signals from two chase boats that could work up to 20 km from shore and still be fully controlled by the vision engineer in the control room. Full duplex talkback and tallies to each boat are also provided. Timeline chose Cobham HD camera transmitters and receivers which have the unique feature of full diversity provided by 8 aerials. By deploying a combination of high gain Omni, fan beam, and sector antenna’s, complete coverage of the large competition areas is achieved.

Due to the event being held in ten different countries, with each port providing local chase boats, the system needed to be easily adaptable to a vast range of vessels. Timeline designed a fully waterproof portable battery system that could be deployed on any craft in a short period of time. The system integrates the Cobham COFDM transmitter and high power amplifier, the camera data receiver and the talkback base unit allowing the cameraman full communications to shore over the 15km span.

Each craft also carries a reporter and the timeline system incorporates a bespoke commentary system allowing the commentator to give a firsthand account of the action live to the land based commentary team.

Working with Amis, who provide the heli-tele gyroscopic camera, Timeline also had to develop an RF system that could be fitted to a variety of helicopters as provided by each host port.  Timeline’s unique battery powered heli-tele solution removes the need to integrate to the helicopters power supply. Timeline bought the BMS actuator arm and aerial system that could be deployed on the skids or the cross mounts of differing helicopters. Timeline now has EASA & FAA approvals for all major helicopter models used in aerial photography and is believed to be most approved actuator arm system in the world.

Back on shore a 42 meter hoist provided by the host port houses the eight receive antennas and multiple talkback aerials which are connected back to the RF receive cabin located near the hoist. The RF cabin can be located up to 1km away from the main production centre which presented the challenge of getting multi bi-directional video, audio, control and comms signals over this distance. Timeline chose the Riedel Mediornet compact to connect these remote sites together

with a main and backup signal mode fibre. As Timeline also chose Riedel to provide the talkback system talkback panels are also be provided at the remote sites under the complete control of the sound supervisor in the broadcast centre. Timeline have also deployed the brand new Riedel commentary units. Because of their tight integration with Mediornet & Artist these are used for live operation as well as post with all the edit suites without the need for any re-configuration.

The Broadcast Centre galleries are equipped with a the award winning Ross Carbonite vision mixer and Yamaha LS9-32 sound desk. This flexible console is connected to the Riedel Mediornet by just one LC fibre MADI cable. Not only has this completely de-cluttered the sound gallery but crucially it saves hours of rig time and reduces the quantity of cables and equipment needing to be shipped around the world.

EVS was chosen to supply the live replays into the TX and IPD is used to integrate streaming of up to 4 feeds into the edit store via XT-access. The edit store product was chosen as it presents a single box storage solution. Mounted on the edit store are three FCP edit suites which cut a 26 minute highlight show. This has to be played out just two hours after the event finishes.

Volvo’s digital media archive follows the race around the world to ensure it is available to the production team in every location. All media is backed up to removable drive and sent back to Volvo headquarters, not only for heritage but for Volvo’s media team to make use of in their future VNRs’ and web edits.

The Volvo Ocean Race media centre is often located many miles away from the broadcast centre and Timeline provide a full broadcast quality 5Ghz point to point video link to connect the two sites. For world feed distribution in the media centre, Timeline developed a custom built distribution pod. This unique solution caters for all Volvo’s media partners giving them access to the world feed in any format desired from HD-SDI with embedded audio, through to analogue PAL with discreet analogue audio.

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