Enhanced Security Boots RF to New Band Behind the scenes, CP Communications returns with a completely revamped infrastructure, necessitated in part by the increased security that has blanketed marathons since last year’s Boston bombing. Previously, CP Communications operated its RF video, audio, and communications within the 2.2-2.4 GHz band. In recent marathons, that band has been taken over by Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, among others, leaving CP to find new a new band in which to operate.
“We worked hard with New York Road Runners and IMG, and we came up with a planned solution and moved to the 3.5 GHz band,” says Kurt Heitmann, SVP, CP Communications. “It’s the first time we’ve done anything in 3.5. We had to buy a completely new infrastructure and redesign all the receive infrastructure — antennas, everything — from the ground up, and we had to do it, basically, in six weeks.”’
CP Communications’ staff of 48 will maintain the same receive sites as last year — Bloomberg Tower at 731 Lexington Ave. and Bay Ridge Apartments in Brooklyn — and add a local receive site at the start line. ABC’s two ENG vans — located in Brooklyn and Manhattan — as well as CP Communications’ HDRF1 in Central Park round out the RF workflow.
In addition, CP Communications overhauled its radio communications. “Basically, there’s a server that is sniffing all of the different locations and determining where the best audio coming in is, and then it’ll take that audio and distribute it over an IP-based system back down the microwave link to us here in the truck,” explains Communications Manager Mark Elinson. “We have eight different receive modules here in the truck. The server is constantly sniffing the different sites, and then it sends them down to these eight clients that are connected to the server here.”
CP Communications also added a switch between HDRF1 and NEP’s mobile production units so that each crew will have access to the other’s AV, edit, communications, and more.
“Because of what happened in Boston and [then experiencing] start-line interference in Chicago this year, we’ve taken a completely different approach to marathon coverage on the video, audio, and comms side,” says Heitmann. “Last year, we started the process of trying to extend the finish-line truck out to the field through the air. This year, we perfected that in Chicago, and, now in New York, we’ve doubled the size of it.
Tracking the Field
This year’s coverage will again place heavy emphasis on enhanced graphics and GPS mapping, which will be particularly helpful to fans, family, and friends of the 50,000-plus runners. Every runner is pinpointed on a Google map shown throughout the telecast, and names will scroll across the screen as they cross the finish line.
After beginning in Staten Island, the New York City Marathon travels through Brooklyn and Queens before entering Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge. It continues up through the Bronx and back down into Manhattan before finishing in Central Park.
“One of the things that we’re featuring this year, much more in terms of GPS mapping and showing where runners are, [is] also giving everybody a flavor of New York through graphics,” says Mayer. “Again, we’re super excited. We’ve got an amazing all-star team to bring it to the country, and we’re ready to go.”
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