NEP Broadcast Services Company's UK division has announced it is providing technical Host Broadcast Services for the first Wimbledon Championships to be broadcast utilising SMPTE ST 2110 compliant fully redundant IP technology. NEP UK has installed a distributed routing system, connected by main and back up MTP fibre optic cable, to serve on and off-site domestic and international broadcasters.
This year’s tournament, believed to be the world’s biggest fully-IP sports production will see NEP ’s two new state-of-the-art IP OB vehicles in action paired with a huge modular custom-designed fly-pack to provide the core IP infrastructure and technical facilities. Together the systems become a single integrated solution, allowing greater integration of multiple concurrent feeds and sharing of sources to broadcast the event to an audience in excess of 1 billion in over 200 territories.
By deploying its new IP-based outside broadcast (OB) trucks, NEP UK can offer increased flexibility compared to coaxial cable connections and significantly reduce the expense and use of unsightly cabling throughout the All England club grounds. Furthermore, the latest OB vehicles can expand its capacity and facilities exponentially via modular connection with multiple IP fly-packs.
For the first time, NEP UK, in partnership with Wimbledon Broadcast Services (WBS) is covering all the courts with a team of over 250 technical crew to record and replay every ball that is played. Continuing its 35-year relationship with The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), NEP UK is delivering IP technical facilities for its in-house production of The Championships as part of WBS.
Both the scale and range of requirements for this project are immense, said NEP UK, with coverage growing significantly over previous years. From distributing directly to rights holders own MCRs, the Central Content Store, the World feed, the Wimbledon Channel and now a transmission, distribution and quality control area, as well as an additional two courts.
NEP UK have also joined forces with Fletcher to provide coverage for the remaining seven courts, allowing all courts to have full coverage for the first time comments Richard Lancaster, Technical Project Manager, NEP UK.
Since 2014, NEP UK has been providing both host and domestic coverage of The Championships. This year, the number of custom built galleries has almost doubled with 21 control rooms for the host broadcaster plus three for the Wimbledon Channel to serve the World Feed and archive.
To support the broadcast, NEP will deploy 118+ camera positions and 41+ EVS servers, plus three major OB units and a large fly-pack core to broadcast the event.
Paul Davies, Head of Broadcast & Production at the AELTC commented: "We have worked with NEP UK for a number of years and their experience, knowledge and expertise has ensured that Wimbledon has remained at the cutting edge of broadcast innovation throughout this partnership. This is the first year Wimbledon Broadcast Services comes into operation and we are delighted to continue to partner with NEP for a further four years and are very excited to be covering Centre Court in 4K HDR."
Rob Newton, Engineering and Technical Director, NEP UK said: "Our deep understanding of Wimbledon, the sport, the venue and its broadcast requirements has enabled NEP UK to work seamlessly with the AELTC to broadcast in SMPTE 2110 for the first time. Our new IP modular system will enable flexibility and scalability, whilst ensuring the highest standards of broadcast coverage."
NEP UK also confirmed that it deployed Axon’s Cerebrum platform to control and monitor its complex IP workflow, which will deliver technical Host Broadcast Services for The Championships at Wimbledon.
The complex IP infrastructure, which simultaneously offers dual level UHD, HD-SDI, SDR UHD and HDR UHD, required a reliable control system to seamlessly integrate and manage the latest technologies from GVG, Arista, EVS, Phabrix, Calrec and Evertz in a unified IP workflow.
Following extensive trials last year, NEP selected Axon’s Cerebrum as its chosen platform. “Cerebrum provides both power and flexibility and scales effectively to allow multiple users on the system,” says Gareth Phillips, Head of Vision and VT for NEP UK. “It simplifies our workflow by minimizing engineering bottlenecks and is easy to configure at speed.”
Three main Cerebrum systems will be deployed within the two trucks and fly-pack, featuring a total of 150 hardware control panels. Following Wimbledon, NEP UK will split the IP system into four separate structures for smaller scale live events.
Each Cerebrum system allows rapid configuration and integration of 3rd party technologies with comprehensive tally management through a customizable user interface. “In a fast-paced production environment, familiarity and ease-of-use for our skilled operators is critical. This is where Cerebrum comes into its own,” Phillips explained.
“It gives us a really simple user-friendly graphical interface that enables the crew to get their heads around the workflow, to customize it and quickly preconfigure a show file to be pulled up later. They can get to work and focus on the production, without concern for the complex and changing technology layer underneath,” he added.