CP Communications, a leader in innovative solutions and services for complex live event productions, exhibited the full power of IP streaming and bonded cellular networking for live sports production at the 13th CrossFit Games, which represents the world championship event for the athletic competition. Contracted by Carr-Hughes Productions, CP Communications provided all content acquisition, networking and delivery services across all areas at the multi-venue, 20-acre Alliant Energy Center complex in Madison, Wisconsin. The complex includes an exhibition center, vendor pavilions, a sponsor’s row, a beer garden and an outdoor competition area – North Park Stadium – built specifically for this event.
CP Communications established a base at the exhibition center outside the Alliant Energy Center, and built a fiber infrastructure from its 40-foot CP-1 Digital Communications Trailer to cover the entire competitive course. The fiber infrastructure also delivered the live event production feeds that were distributed throughout the complex, allowing fans, participants and sponsors to watch the events in real-time. The 13th CrossFit Games took place August 1-4, with a focus on aerobic, weightlifting and gymnastics for the nearly 200 male and female participants.
The fiber infrastructure was based around four, 48-strand fiber trunks to a demarcation point, where anywhere from 24 to 60 fiber strands were run to the various competition and spectator areas. The fiber network accommodated all audio, data, and video acquisition, transport and distribution services required between these locations and CP-1, which served as CP Communications’ production workspace in the broadcast compound. MultiDyne VF-9000 high-density video fiber transmission frames and MD-3000 fiber transceivers were used at all locations to move and process signals between any point, with a Dante® network deployed to support audio and intercom on the same fiber backbone.
CP Communications’ technical personnel covered the event outside using multiple cameras (a mix of wireless RF handhelds, PTZ and POV cameras, and hard cameras on scissor lifts), with Mobile Viewpoint Airlinks used to encode and deliver signals over a bonded cellular network.
“We employed six bonded cellular rigs to cover events outside the Alliant Energy Center campus, including the ruck race and the swimming events downtown,” said Kurt Heitmann, CEO, CP Communications. “All of our wireless audio, communications and video systems worked seamlessly both inside the coliseum and outside at North Park Stadium, including our traditional CODFM wireless cameras. This flexibility is yet another example of our leadership and expertise in building customized, hybrid systems to ensure reliable event coverage across multiple sites. While we remain RF specialists, we can simplify the overall infrastructure and ensure 100 percent coverage by leveraging the power and flexibility of IP and bonded cellular networking.”
The CrossFit organization also served as the World Feed host broadcaster, providing a completely IP-based world feed to various websites and social media services (including YouTube and Facebook) in multiple languages. CP Communications engineers monitored the all fiber, IP and bonded cellular feeds on board CP-1 — including the acquired signals coming back to the trailer, and the world feed transmissions going out.
“We provided H264 video from the Airlinks and managed the bitrate with a ceiling of 16 Megabits per channel,” said Heitmann. “Using the Mobile Viewpoint LinkMatrix, a cloud-based management portal, we could easily make adjustments and troubleshoot on the fly. We are able to adjust parameters like bitrate in real-time to ensure continuous high-quality performance from the bonded cellular transmitters.”
CP Communications also took advantage of the public internet by deploying a Unity Intercom system for team-wide communications.
“We communicated with our entire team over a standard public network, which enabled us to react quicker to technical issues and even use Wi-Fi hotspots as necessary,” said Heitmann. “The Unity system is a cellular system that also matches with our bonded cellular cameras. It gives us the freedom to move as needed and still keep the lines of communication open, which is vital to the success of a project of this enormity.”