This weekend the eyes of the world will once again be on London as King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla are officially crowned.
For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation was seen as a milestone for broadcasting when it took place in 1952. Some 70 years later, Charles’s crowning will be broadcast in UHD, while audiences can get up close with the Crown Jewels thanks to augmented reality.
Ahead of the main event, TVBEurope spoke to a number of broadcasters about how they will be covering the day.
Sky News will be covering the entire Coronation live, producing coverage for digital platforms as well as TV. The coverage will be in UHD and available on Sky TV, Sky Stream and Sky Q.
Due to the size and scale of the event there were always plans in place for collaboration between broadcasters, explains George Davies, head of operations at Sky News, but Sky will be employing its IP network to “do the heavy lifting” of all the content.
“[We’ll be] utilising our network plug-in locations around the event,” adds Davies. “Delivering a UHD event of this size and complexity takes a lot of planning and careful thought, the size of the event means we will be bringing in companies like NEP and Globelynx.”
Sky News will be using trucks, not for the satellite dishes on the roof but the production equipment inside them, adds Davies. “The live UHD coverage will be created entirely in a truck including GFX and Dolby Atmos. We would have liked to make this a full remote production from Sky Studios but the event scale and complexity would not allow it.”
The Coronation obviously follows on from the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II last September. While both events have been long in the planning, broadcasters are taking learnings from that event into their plans for Saturday.
“It’s all about people,” states Davies. “None of this equipment works without people to make it happen. The funeral was a very long 11-day event with no advanced notice. People were working at 100 per vemt for long days and a very long week. It was incredible to see the focus and dedication of so many people working so hard. The Coronation ceremony is only a one-day event, but it will take almost as much planning and care to make the global event have a similar number of viewers as the Queen’s funeral.”
TalkTV plans to cover the Coronation “differently” says News UK executive creative director and head of studio output, Erron Gordon. “The state broadcaster will do it their way; ITV will probably try and do a similar thing,” he adds.
Instead, TalkTV will have singer Katherine Jenkins doing some exclusive performances during the week leading up to the Coronation. On Friday, the broadcaster will air a show that includes Piers Morgan and Nadine Dorries, while on the day itself Vanessa Feltz will host the “people’s coverage” of almost of the Coronation.
“It’s important that we offer an alternative; if we were trying to copy the state broadcaster or biggest commercial broadcaster in the UK, there would really be no point,” stated Gordon. “[Tonally] I do think it will be more relaxed.”
As part of its coverage on Saturday, TalkTV will employ a combination of both outside broadcasts and studios. “We will have presenters in the studios [at London Bridge] and in a remote location opposite Westminster Abbey,” explains Goron. “We are also going to have JJ Anisiobi presenting from a street party; talking to people and getting a sense of the feel of the day in a more relaxed way than you might see with other broadcasters.”
Asked what lessons TalkTV learned from reporting on the passing of the Queen, Gordon says the main lesson was that they needed to bring all of their operations under one roof. “At the time, half of our channel was based in the News Building [in London Bridge] and half in Ealing.”
Since then, TalkTV has expanded its studio capacity at London Bridge, and moved all of its operations in Central London. “It’s a much better place to be and we are already having conversations about how we can be more collaborative between our teams,” explains Gordon.
“[Nonetheless] I am very proud of our coverage of the Queen’s passing. For a channel that had only been on air for a matter of months at the time, I think we had a very comprehensive graphics look – which included a beautiful reimagining of our logo – and a great reworking of our theme music. When we broke the news, it was done respectfully. So I am very proud of that given we had been on air for such a short period.”
The UK’s PA Media will be among the pool providing TV images for broadcasters around the world with 16 camera positions along the route of the Coronation procession between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
PA will have three of these cameras along the route, contributing to the overall live feed played out to customers around the world. The company will also be providing interviews with royal fans, coverage from big screens, street parties, clear-up operations and more from across the UK.
“Most of our camera operators will be using Sony Z90s and LU300s to file footage back to the editors in Paddington,” explains Tom Leese, deputy head of video at PA Media.
“Our operators on the procession route will be using LU800s to ensure they get the best possible coverage, when thousands of people around them will be fighting for data. For our beauty shots for the day, we will deploy our Sony FX3s, allowing some added-value shots to fill up our archive.”
PA’s live operation has expanded hugely since the Queen’s funeral, adds Leese: “From having just two packs on hire, all our video journalists in London now have their own kit, with several more deployed around the rest of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
“With another eight months of experience under our belts, filming and execution of our live operation will be much slicker. Our workflow has been streamlined, our troubleshooting has quickened and the quality of our shooting has improved.”
Globelynx, which is part of PA Media Group, will be supporting the live video transmission and distribution infrastructure for PA. The various live location feeds are received via the company’s dedicated LiveU servers, with content then routed to subscribing broadcast partners and content aggregators via two dedicated live PA channels.
“We also have access additional live feeds from our international pool partners AFP, Reuters, and AP via our inbound BT lines,” adds Luigi De Paola. head of broadcast operations at Globelynx. “We can then relay, capture, mix, and edit this content with live direction from the PA video desk via our in-house MCR.
“Our two live channels are made available via our outbound BT Tower lines, HLS, RTMP or SRT streams, and even via satellite,” adds De Paola.
The European Broadcasting Union
The Coronation is an event that has been 20 years in the planning, says Liz Corbin, deputy media director and head of news at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
She admits the Coronation is somewhat easier to plan for than the death of Queen Elizabeth, but the EBU’s operation for both events is relatively similar. “We have been members of the Foreign Broadcasters Service since it was created. We will have access to the special positions outside Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace and in Windsor, etc. The EBU will provide its members and other clients with transmission services at all those locations.”
Coverage of the Coronation ceremony itself will be provided by the BBC and ITV, with the EBU providing the technical solution for the distribution of the signals.
Another part of the EBU’s role is to help its member broadcasters understand the minutia of the ceremony. “During our discussions with members about the Queen’s funeral, one editor in chief said she didn’t have the words in her language to describe some of the things that would happen,” explains Corbin.
“When the Lord Chamberlain was due to break his wand, the editor said they didn’t have the words in their language to describe it.”
“Sometimes I think people in the UK underestimate how important this event is to non-British and non-Commonwealth nations,” adds Corbin. “This is a big deal for all of them.”
Among the international broadcasters that will be airing coverage of the Coronation is Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), the Austrian national public broadcaster.
They will broadcast seven hours of programming on Saturday, covering the ceremonial events, as well as the Coronation Concert on Sunday evening.
ORF has a permanent correspondant office in London with a lot of existing infrastructure that can be used for communications, local studio and editing. “For the live event on May 6th we will combine this with all existing technologies available in our Media Centre in Vienna,” explains Karl Petermichl, head of distribution and governance at ORF. “For vision and mixing of the feeds and the various guests in the Vienna studio we use our large production gallery, equipped with Sony and Lawo desks as well as Ikegami studio cameras in HD.
“All of the correspondent feeds are received via the EBU Fibre and Satellite networks from stand-up positions in London, with LiveU-equipped wireless ENG Teams in the streets, and additional streaming feeds from across the open internet,” adds Petermichl.
ORF will also have a specially designed studio in Vienna, which includes new LED walls from Hisense. “[The studio] consists of three mobile walls with dimensions of 6 by 2,7 metres each,” states Petermichl. “This gives us 3.840 by 1.728 pixel which we drive from our production gallery in HD; due to the current vision mixer setup. The pixel pitch is 1,56mm and the brightness luminance is 800 cd/m2 so we can create a spectacular scenery in the studio.”