The Head of the Charles Regatta (opens in new tab), also known as HOCR, is a rowing head race held on the penultimate complete weekend of October each year on the Charles River, which separates Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. The three-day race (returning after a pandemic pause and expanding last year from had always been a two-day event) draws 11,000 athletes rowing in over 1,900 boats in 61 events. The most recent event was held October 22 to 24, 2021.
"We did a virtual regatta last year that was very successful. But there's nothing like being in person and racing down the Charles," said Head of the Charles executive director Fred Schoch. "We're just thrilled to be pivoting and having a normal event again."
One of the largest regattas in the world, the race commands global intrigue, which requires the broadcast production team to cover the entire regatta from many different vantage points. Running cable along the course was a complicated and cost prohibitive solution for broadcasting the full race each year. The problem was compounded by a weak and heavily taxed cellular network, which meant that the team needed a robust and reliable solution to ensure a continuous broadcast. Enter the Hackensack, NJ-based LiveU, (opens in new tab) which prides itself on offering reliable and cost-effective end-to-end solutions for all types of live productions.
The Head of The Charles broadcast team utilized a LiveU REMI (opens in new tab)production model, implementing 10 camera stations powered by LiveU HEVC (opens in new tab) units. The cellular bonded technology, coupled with priority sims inside each unit, enabled a rock-solid live transmission. Additionally, the team deployed the IP Pipe (opens in new tab)production feature to enable long-range remote control of a PTZ camera at the starting line.
What made this a unique production was the camera crew being compromised of volunteers, so the solution needed to be easy to operate for the novice users. The crew simply plugged the camera SDI into the LiveU units and turned them on to go live. The producer in the central control room could monitor battery life, diagnostics, and the live feeds. The broadcast director praised the technology, which allowed him to focus on the creative aspects of the production, adding more value for the global viewers at home.
"The great thing about the reliability of LiveU was that it allowed me to forget about the technology and know that the signal was going to be rock-solid so I could focus on the job I was there to do, which was to produce entertaining coverage of the event," said Head of the Charles broadcast director Mitch McManus. "Camera placement is only limited by our own imagination; there is nowhere we can't put a camera using this technology, and the units are so small and so compact we can literally put cameras anywhere along the course."