It was developed by Videosys to enable remote cleaning of the camera head and full control over the camera’s operations

Videosys Pan & Tilt Camera System 4. Photo Credit Steve Challes

Videosys created a bespoke Pan and Tilt camera system for The Boat Race 2024, which included a compressed air lens cleaning system to ensure uninterrupted coverage from the boat-mounted cameras.

The system was designed by Ben Peach and George Bairaktaris, from the company’s custom engineering division. They were developed for use by broadcast hire specialist Presteigne Broadcast.

Videosys Pan & Tilt Camera System 2. Photo Credit Steve Challes

The cameras also included full Pan and Tilt control and control of camera features over an IP link.

Videosys says the camera system was also more compact, lightweight, and secure on the boats.

All four boats in the event (two for the women’s teams and two for the men’s) were fitted with the new system, which comprised two mini cameras on each boat. One camera was mounted behind the coxswain and another was positioned at their feet.

Feeds from each camera were sent to a Videosys Broadcast STX video transmitter, which was enclosed in a custom-designed housing that also contained a video switcher, enabling the director to choose between the two camera feeds.

Director in truck

The feeds from the boat cameras were sent to an outside broadcast truck on shore and were incorporated into the broadcast.

Control of the system was via an IP radio data link that was already part of the broadcast workflow.

Technical facilities for the event were provided by EMG UK, with live coverage produced by FilmNova.

Boats on river

Colin Tomlin, CEO, Videosys Broadcast, said: “Our custom engineering division designed the new system from the ground up so that it could be securely mounted on each boat without getting in the way of the rowers. They also ensured that the equipment chosen was totally compatible with the technical infrastructure already in use by the Boat Race’s broadcast team.”

Matthew Coliandris, senior director, FilmNova, adds: “The new on-board cameras provided a real uplift in both picture quality and manoeuvrability. Very often, cameras of this type can look out of place when put up against the rest of the technical specification of the OB, however this was plainly not the case at the Boat Race this year.”

Director tight with boat on screen

Ben Hawker, head of RF and specialist cameras, Presteigne Broadcast, says: “Colin and his team have great broadcast understanding and foresight, which played an integral part in this project and made my life easier. I am very happy with the outcome.”

The camera system co-designer Ben Peach, added: “An important part of this project was co-operating with the Oxford and Cambridge race teams so that we designed a system that was lightweight and quick to install on race day. We also relocated some of the equipment to cut down cable routing, and we ensured that the system didn’t prevent access to important areas of the boat.”