On New Year's Eve, 2014, the Angolan Athletics Federation (FAA) hosted the 59th Luanda Sant Sylvestre event, a 10 km road race through Angola's capital city. The sporting spectacle was to be broadcast on national television. Televisao Publica de Angola (TPA), the nation's public broadcaster, was responsible for producing race footage.
Road races present specific challenges from a broadcasting perspective. Unlike sports held in stadiums, where cameras are positioned on tripods or a pedestal to cover action in a specifically defined space, road races, by their very nature, move constantly at a consistent pace, making capturing high quality footage a more complicated process.
TPA, for the sixth year running, placed its trust in worldwide broadcast solution specialist Gravity Media – then branded Gearhouse Broadcast – as it sought to come up with a reliable way to provide viewers with uninterrupted blanket coverage.
The experienced team of engineers and technicians at Gravity Media has in-depth knowledge of every single element pertaining to the effective production of road race content. It was thus possible to develop a creative, workable system for TPA that would be both mobile and flexible, so as to capture the best possible footage, whilst also being as cost-effective as possible.
Gravity Media installed RF uplinks on three motorbikes and one helicopter. An aerial relay was mounted in the same helicopter. A receiver was installed on the ground.
Motorbike and helicopter cameras benefitted from an image stabilising lens, while Vislink L1700 transmitters and Gravity Media's own 5W power amplifiers were also fitted. Seamless reception of camera feeds from the road and air was assured due to receiver points being equipped to be able to easily pin-point the exact location of the constantly moving cameras using live-mapping GPS positioning technology.
Receiver points featured a high-gain dish antenna, four Vislink L2174 receivers and an auto-tracking antenna with an automated engine. A wireless link validation via an SDI matrix meant signal feeds were only played out when a Gravity Media engineer validated the link quality. This was important as it allowed the director to cut out pictures from an unstable link.
The relay system in the helicopter was fitted with three Vislink L2174 receivers, another 5W power amplifier. Feeds are received using a hemispherical and patch antenna from the mobile sources, in this case the motorbikes. A live mapping system is used to locate these when the helicopter is at high altitude. This in-helicopter relay took all four camera feeds and sent it to a ground-based receive point using a fifth Vislink L1500 transmitter and 5W power amplifier.
Gravity Media is a leading supplier of broadcast solutions to broadcasters and production companies around the world. Its team of flexible innovators are able to creatively solve problems to fulfil even the most complicated of production needs. Gravity Media specialises in coverage of live events including meeting complex Outside Broadcast requirements, as well as the provision of Event Communications, Project Management, Systems Integration and Equipment Rental. The Olympic and Commonwealth Games, FIFA World Cup, international tennis tournaments and iRB Rugby World Cup have all benefitted from the high-level input of Gravity Media professionals.