The onset of the pandemic caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus led to many events being cancelled around the world, and the live broadcast industry was brought to a standstill.
The ill effects of Covid-19 have been felt across all sectors but a few companies took the downtime to focus on improving all aspects of their business and operations.
Dubai-based 7 Production, who cover the Formula 1 globally, found themselves in a situation where everything was at a standstill. Rather than sitting around, 7’s operations teams swung into action to carry out tasks that were otherwise on the backseat due to the hectic nature of their business.
Apart from the F1, which 7 covers on behalf of broadcasters MBC, the company is involved in several other live sporting events in and around the Middle East.
Tony Jabbour, head of operations, 7 Production said: “We spent our ‘free time’ during lockdown to carry out deep maintenance on all our equipment at our Dubai office. Meanwhile, our crew based in Saudi Arabia began maintenance operations on lights, cameras, and other studio equipment. It was a case of all hands on deck.”
7 has massive inventory of expensive equipment such as Canon C300 II, Alexa cameras, Sony F55s, and several other items of ENG camera and equipment.
“We checked all our lenses as well, as it's an equally important part of the camera set-up. We upgraded our devices to the latest firmware, which is something that might seem basic, but firmware upgrades bring with it many new software features that unlocks the hardware potential,” Jabbour added.
7 also has a wide range of broadcast equipment as well, which includes cameras such as the Sony HDC 1500, and 1700. “During the lockdown we ensured that we kept these cameras running by firing them every now and then. It's important to ensure all ports and jacks are kept clean, while carrying out regular technical inspections. We wouldn't want any malfunctions when they are required to be in action, it's important to keep the hardware and software aspects of cameras running.”
Finally, Jabbour and his crew worked on the “double expansion on one of its OB vans”, which now makes it capable of carrying out two separate productions simultaneously. Once all technical drawings and cabling arrangements were done, 7’s technicians carried out all the installation and layout work.
“It's amazing how this configuration now enables us to carry out two separate productions at the same time. The new set up is capable of handling 30 cameras working together, with an additional six wireless cameras, along with eight EVS' systems,’ Jabbour added.
In conclusion, 7’s regional director Lara Ghanem emphasised the importance of keeping the chequered flag in sight throughout the testing period.
“The pandemic has created a difficult time for us all, but we looked to turn a difficult situation into something positive. We put our time to good use to ensure that our operations and equipment is raring to go once the season kicks off,” Ghanem added.