According to Adrian Kingston, BBC Outside Broadcasts' lead engineering manager for Wimbledon, shooting in HD is cheaper now than it has ever been but it could even become cheaper still.
“There is a lot of investment in HD OB units,” said Kingston, speaking at Broadcast Live and Video Forum. “The latter, coupled with general OB oversupply, means that from a production point of view there are opportunities to squeeze prices especially on the spot market.”
With this in mind, Kingston's task is to create a business model that works alongside the thirst for cheaper prices. He believes that scale and commoditization is the key.
He said: “Selling units at a discount to smaller shows or at a time when there is no work happens now of course but what I don't see yet, although there are groupings on the continent which are heading this way, is the scale of operation in the UK to match client price expectation to the real cost of delivery.
“What I'm looking for is a business model which allows the suppliers to manage a business plan, with reasonable margins, whilst satisfying the aspirations of the market. In reality this scale of operation could only work in a market the size of Europe as a minimum, so I'm not lacking ambition for my segment of the industry.”
Kingston is in charge of the BBC Host and BBC domestic technical operations for the Wimbledon Championships.
The tennis tournament has been shot in widescreen since 2001. The first Wimbledon HD tests were done in 2006. And demand is increasing for both for in 2008.
Despite the move to HD, Kingston said that it is still necessary to continue to shoot Wimbledon "4:3 Safe".
Although the coverage is 16:9, camera operators and graphics people still have to remember that there are many 4:3 viewers and frame accordingly. This means not placing anything important in the areas outside of the 4:3 picture which can be a real limitation when trying to use the full framing opportunities of the widescreen image.
Click here to read the full transcript of Kingston's speech.