CP Communications Pulls Off Epic-Size Show at U.S. Open
The U.S. Open golf tournament is always one of the biggest shows of the year for CP Communications, but, at the Olympic Club in San Francisco last week, CP took its effort into the next stratosphere. With a total of 61 cameras sheds and more than 400,000 ft. of single-strand fiber deployed throughout the course for NBC, Golf Channel, and the USGA’s world feed, CP pulled off the largest-scale golf production in company history.
“In terms of signal flow, we are responsible for everything out of the course that comes into the compound,” SVP Kurt Heitmann said last week. “This is the biggest event we have ever had, and I’m really proud of my guys. They are incredible. Sixty-one cameras on a golf course for all those clients — that is a lot of signal flow. And it all runs through our glass.”
In addition to providing connectivity for the 61 hard and handheld cameras deployed by the three broadcast entities, CP supported six robotic cameras (using its custom fiber control solution), the Actioncam aerial system, and eight announce-booth kits, as well as 13 RF cameras and 40 RF microphones.
However, the most notable development to come out of CP Productions’ efforts at the Open last week was the U.S. debut of a routing system developed in conjunction with ETL Systems. The new technology, which is based entirely on touchscreen-enabled software, connected CP’s RF5 and RF6 mobile units together to create a streamlined signal-routing configuration.
“ETL Systems is known for digital routers and matrixes for high-end operations like defense contractors and satellite providers,” says Heitmann. “So I went over to England and sat down with the director to design a system that would take in 18 diversity mini-sites [36 inputs] and feed out 44 outputs.”
CP used the system for the international feed at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in April, but the Open marked the first time it had been used on a U.S. telecast. CP deployed the system for both the domestic NBC show and the international USGA feed.
“It is all virtual soft-touch on the screen. So now, instead of hitting hard routers in a rack, we are just using touchscreen controls for the entire golf course to route RF signals,” says Heitmann. “It’s never been done before in the States, and it is lightning fast.”
CP also continues to expand its suite of MPEG-4 systems and plans to use MPEG-4 technology alone for NBC’s U.S. Open next year.
“We believe MPEG-4 is the direction that everything is moving, and we’re going to lead [that effort],” says Heitmann. “In addition, we’ve always said CP is more than just RF cameras and microphones. We feel that we are the only company that can provide a turnkey [solution] for the entire signal-flow backbone.”