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June 26th, 2009

Wimbledon 2009It’s the time of year when BBC’s OB’s (Outside Broadcasts) has a field day.  Or I should say a field and court day.  Or maybe a field and many courts day.  It’s Wimbledon and Glastonbury time and interestingly, last year the entire BBC OB department was sold to indie OB provider, SIS Live who now provide facilities for both events.

I was wondering what it’s like being an OB cameraman, especially the guy who does the static wideshot of the tennis court?  I assume it is a guy and not a remote camera?  It’s a guy on, Have I Got News For You, you see him at the end, sitting there behind the camera pointing at the presenter.  Maybe it’s a trainee?  There are probably worst shows to be an OB cameraman on, darts, snooker, though I’m sure they all have their demands.  Surprisingly, they even have slow motion replays on darts and snooker.

This year’s Wimbledon goes fully HD, whereas in previous years only centre court and court one have been HD. There are the four trucks including the ominously sounding OB7, dedicated HD truck, along with 70 HD cameras, 8 slow motion cameras, 31 HD video recorders and 20 networked EVS recorders, allowing slow motion replays to be accessed by any user.  And the obligatory 50 miles of cable, riggers, etc, etc.  It’s complicated and of almost sci-fi proportions.  Indeed the BBC trailer for the event seems to be inspired by just that, having been made in the style of Tron.

The Wimbledon championships started in 1877, twelve years before even film was invented, but early coverage in the thirties, was very similar to that of today.  A little shakier maybe and in black and white, and of course, not exactly live, but otherwise…

If you think the HD coverage looks good, maybe the next big thing will be Wimbledon 3D, then the cameraman on the static wide shot really will have something to say. Which brings me to Glastonbury.

3d-discoThe big thing at Glastonbury, is the silent disco. Seriously!!  And 3D, for the ultimate clubbing experience.  Two thousand clubbers, surrounded by huge screens, will wear radio linked headphones and 3D glasses to immerse themselves into the one hour, audio visual extravaganza created by DJ’s and motion graphic and visual artists. Already tried out in Trafalgar Square in 2007 it’s expected to be the experience of the Glastonbury experience.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s 117 hours worth of coverage of the event will present a different perspective to the OB cameramen here.  I have a picture of them in rock concert black, as opposed to their Wimbledon counterparts in white Fred Perry shirts and slacks.  I wonder if they swap jobs?

The BBC started pGlastonburylanning for Glastonbury in April, and have a crew of 275 people on the event.  This year they’re using a half hour delay for some of the acts who might use offensive language, after two years ago, Arctic Monkeys let rip before the watershed.  Apparently they’re standing by for Lily Allen.

I bet they wished they had that piece of equipment at Wimbledon!


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