Between 16 and 22 April 2022 the Zuiderpark in The Hague was taken over by the Invictus Games. During this special event, over 500 servicemen and women and veterans who suffered physical or psychological injuries proved that despite their disabilities they can and will compete at a high level.
Two years after the planned date, the Invictus Games were held for the fifth time. Due to COVID the 2020 edition was delayed twice, while the plans for recording were waiting on the shelf. Although Broadcast Rental has a great deal of experience with large-scale international sports events and huge productions with a lot of RF’s, this event presented a new challenge.
‘First off, the Invictus Games are more about the athletes than about their performance’, explained Frank Steenbeek, Broadcast Rental’s CEO. ‘Unlike, for instance, the Paralympics, this event is about encouraging recovery through sports and meeting others who share the same experiences, and their families. Focus lies on the journey of the athletes, and that is usually a bigger feat even than how they perform on the field. It is also the reason why recording this event is something else. The distance is greater and less in your face.
Almost all competitions were held in the Zuiderpark in The Hague, where over 500 athletes from 20 countries competed. The city park measures over a million square metres, and the client, FabriQ Media Group, hired Broadcast Rental to provide wireless camera reception in the entire area, both indoors and Indoors. A challenge, even for Broadcast Rental. Steenbeek: ‘We were asked to provide a total of 8 wireless systems that could be used flexibly at all venues in the Zuiderpark. Meaning that one or more RF cameras could be moved to other locations if circumstances so demanded. To guarantee coverage and reception all over the Zuiderpark we created a so-called RF cloud.’
Up in the Sky
The entire outdoor area of Zuiderpark as well as the two indoor locations – the sports hall and the Invictus Games theatre – were provided with RF reception. Arno Maandonks was one of the RF engineers who from start to finish was involved in the technical realisation of this million square metres RF cloud. ‘It was a unique situation for us. The Zuiderpark is a park with a lot of trees and few buildings on which we could install antennas. To cover the entire area we had to take to the sky, literally.’
They chose to use three cherry pickers, in three different locations. The cherry pickers could reach some 25 to 30 metres, the perfect spot for the antennas to cover every corner of the park.
‘Eventually RF coverage was water-tight thanks to different types of antennas. A so-called 16-way. That’s quite rare’, Maandonks laughed. ‘During tests earlier this year we managed with less, but at that time there weren’t as many leaves on the trees as there were now. The
great thing is that our system is scalable. Whatever variables you face, by making just a few minor modifications you can expand your range or improve reception. The only limit is the equipment available. A good thing we have a lot of equipment!’
Reception at the unit showed that this set-up was anything but standard. ‘Usually you need just one receiver per wireless sender, but with such a large area to cover and that many antennas we had to double up. That way we could use all eight RF senders individually all over the area, regardless of where, when, and how many at the same time.’
Steenbeek: ‘Two of the eight systems were mounted on the motorcycles used for the cycle races. Moreover, the entire week there were three handheld cameras with RF systems plus Ben de Graaf’s Mōvi. The Agito, railcam and flyline were also provided with RF systems.
These Invictus Games perfectly showcased the quality as well as the quantity of Broadcast Rental’s RF stocks. In addition, parts of the Fly Pack were used for monitoring. Broadcast Rental furthermore supplied the hardware and infrastructure for the EVS-setup; five EVS VIA servers, two XFiles, IP Directors, an Xhub and all work stations for the slomo operators.
A Week to Remember
‘Sure, it was great that we could flex our muscles during this production. But what’s more important is that we could make a contribution to this special event’, Frank Steenbeek admitted. ‘There was this typical friendly atmosphere, both among the athletes and among the crew. The impressive stories and amazing accomplishments that we recorded make for a dynamic that is completely different than at any of the other major sports events we attended. We thank our client FabriQ Media Group for its trust in us, and look back on a brilliant collaboration with knowledgeable freelancers and other suppliers in the broadcasting industry. A wonderful event and tribute to all service personnel and veterans.’