150 Grand Prix, and counting

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Gearhouse Broadcast UK has completed a very successful month of live sports broadcasting at the past three Grands Prix with Channel 4 and Whisper Films.

Starting with the Silverstone British Grand Prix on July 14th – a hotly contested day of sport that included the Wimbledon men’s final and the Cricket World Cup final – the Formula 1 on Channel 4 held its own with a peak of 2.8 million viewers watching Lewis bring it home.

Gearhouse Broadcast provided a crew of 19 within the Whisper Films team of 41, which was almost three times the number of people they usually have onsite. A full purpose gallery, production support and edit suites were built in just three days in an outside broadcast truck. At the core of the video system, we utilised a Cygnus Video Router, an Evertz multiviewer, Sony XD Cams with BSI RF Links, and a Grass Valley Karrera Production Switcher.

The audio system relied on a Lawo Nova Core with MC56 Mark 2 Console, Riedel Artist Comms System, Wisycom RF over fibre, radio mic and IEM system with radio talkback delivered by Tait base stations and Motorola radios. Bespoke high-power audio backpacks and high-power reporter kits were supplied by Paul Murray at Audio Assist. The Server Department used EVS Channel Max Machines with Adobe Premiere Editing Packages and DDP Storage, held together by Nexus Switch Fabric. All the field equipment was connected via 24-core ruggedised single-mode fibre cable, and all frequency planning was managed in-house.

The British Grand Prix is always a special event, and the Channel 4 production team were keen to push all systems to their limits, with cameras, backpacks and reporters roaming far and wide with uninterrupted coverage. The edit team had access to hundreds of terabytes of archived footage brought to Gearhouse HQ and successfully integrated by the guys in our Server Department.

Two weeks later, and we were at Hockenheim for a highly memorable German Grand Prix. The race provided not only a thrilling spectacle for viewers worldwide, but also marked a special occasion for the here team at Gearhouse. Race 11 was a frenzy of pit stops, overtakes, spins and surprises, and it was also the 150th time we had provided broadcast facilities to the Formula One community.

But… no rest for the wicked. Just one week later, the F1 machine resurfaced in Hungary, for what turned out to be the full-on battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen that everyone had been waiting for. What a race – and what a future the sport has, with the two of them continuing to go toe to toe in increasingly well-matched cars.

Big thanks to all our colleagues at RTL, MTVA and Formula 1 for hosting three very successful events.