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Monday 1 July 2019

Senior Lecturers Polly Long and Paul Bourne went up to The Championships, Wimbledon, today for a tour around their technical facilities and to catch up with undergraduate James as he undertakes some work experience there. Third year BSc (Hons) Television Production Technology student James will be working as a Broadcast Assistant for the duration of the championship, supporting the crew by providing a plethora of technical services. We saw James dashing through with various cables and equipment but are pleased to say he was generally too busy to catch up with us properly! However, he seemed to be enjoying himself and his supervisor spoke very positively of his input.

As we explored the facilities, we couldn't help bumping into numerous graduates and it quickly became clear that the broadcasts seemed to be largely underpinned by Media Technology graduates from across the decades.

Left: James in the broadcast compound   Right: Kath, Katie-Jayne and Nick show us around the equipment hubs

We were originally invited by 2003 graduate, Tom Giles, who is now Broadcast Technical Manager at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Association. Tom has remained a good friend of the programme and frequently provides work experience opportunities to undergraduates as well as encouraging students into the sector at industry events. Tom showed us around the state-of-the-art broadcast Centre at Wimbledon, including the extensive IP infrastructure. With multiple cameras on 18 courts there are certainly plenty of sources to deal with and the broadcast centre boasts corridors of galleries to deal with live sound, vison, graphics and replays for all of the major matches. Wimbledon Broadcast Services act as the hub with extensions provided by many third parties to deliver content to other broadcasters and distribution portals across the country over diverse fiber and satellite links. With so many sources and destinations, IP really makes sense and Tom’s design for the infrastructure employed ST2110 before it was even formally ratified. Supported by NEP Visions and Arena’s latest IP capable Outside Broadcast trucks, it must be one of the largest IP production installations around. The main matches were also distributed in 4K Ultra High Definition for Virgin Media customers via the BBC iPlayer app. Unusually for an OB installation, the systems included transmission switching capabilities as well as production switching so that continuous channels a can be run from onsite. We’d love to show you more, but the specifics remain sensitive so you’ll have to enrol to study one of our courses for more detailed case studies!

Matt shows us around the broadcast compound, which hosts the additional infrastructure needed to manage so much content

With Tom at the helm, we also found graduates Kath Gray and Katie-Jayne Mills from NEP Visions acting as Vision Guarantee Engineer and Reserve Vision Guarantee Engineer as well as Stuart Godber acting as Sound Guarantee; Ryan Cox was Vision Guarantee for Arena whilst Matt Carter was their Head of Vision. Furthermore Nick Arbenz was a Vision Engineer for NEP, Neville Hooper was overseeing sound for NEP and Carl Mackintosh was freelancing as an EVS operator. We’re also aware that Andrew Hine was providing equipment and support with Gearhouse and James Axtel was working on sound. We feel obliged to apologise for the shameless namedropping but we’re incredibly proud of what our graduates have collectively achieved and as the Media Technology programme celebrates its 25th anniversary, it’s serendipitous to find so many at the heart of such a prestigious event. Apologies if we’ve missed any of our other graduates who were working at Wimbledon and to those who were working at Formula 1 or Glastonbury instead!

It was incredibly useful for the team to visit such an extensive installation and we hope to invite some of the engineers to Solent to provide more detail to the students in due course. Many thanks to Tom for arranging it and to those who took time to show us around. Best of luck to all involved and we’ll see James next week if they can spare him for his graduation ceremony.