The Open at Turnberry

The 9th Green at 'The Open' at Turnberry

I’ve just comeback from working on ‘The Open’ at Turnberry, a large media BBC event with other tv channels from America and Japan. So how do you cover such a large event with lots of things going on at once?

My job was ‘Greens and Tees’. We had over 80 microphones covering the 18 holes, set microphones covering Greens and Tees and 18 people with radio packs and gun microphones walking the fairways – all out in strong winds, rain and sun! Everything had to be kept going (even in the rain), brought in each night and put out again before play the next morning.

Also covering just the course were 52 cameras!

This output constituted the ‘International mix’, basically coverage of all the action going on. You then add to the BBC output the studio and commentary, roving commentators on the course, giving a close up view and single camera units doing interviews and presentation pieces to camera. Then both the Americans and Japanese had their own set of ‘Turnberry’ facilities to add to the International mix (the International feed also goes world-wide for use by anyone who wants it). With all these facilities you can imagine the amount of people involved!

The International mix is obviously ‘live’, so with up to 18 holes being played at once and the possibility of two matches on each at the same time, how do you make all that appear on one ‘live’ TV screen???

Whilst the BBC had a truck full of Video machines recording the other matches going on at the same time and quickly replaying them back as if it were live, the one thing production had to be was selective.

You ask what relevance has this got to me? Actually quite a lot in way you approach any event you’re going to shoot/cover. What about sports day? The BBC had over 100 microphones and 60+ cameras and over a hundred staff - you have 4 camcorders, two handheld mics and 6 students. The answer be selective and plan! Even the BBC couldn’t show everything and had to choose the matches to follow, even though it had facility to technically cover everything – which you haven’t!

Do some research; don’t just turn up on the day. Work out which events you have, which would be most visual/interesting and restrict choices to the number of cameras you have – better to cover a few events well than everything poorly – give your camcorder teams responsibility for just that event. Follow just few competitors, don’t try and show everyone – research – maybe someone has an interesting story to tell and you could follow them through their progress during the whole day?  Or even a number of people, but be selective!

Unlike the BBC you don’t have the facility to just let things happen and react on a large scale, so planning and research are a must to get anything out of it that will interest and not just be a few blobs running around a field or massed wide shots of the event you’re covering with no story line.  This all applies not just to Sports day, but any event you’ve been asked to cover by your school/university – Plan and be selective!

Lastly, do remember you need parental permissions for minors! Again thinking ahead and restricting your coverage to a few participants will give you less of a headache!

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Many thanks for you patience.
Kind regards,
Mike - Media4ed.

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