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SIS LIVE at the (St George’s) Chapel of Love
Everyone loves a wedding (well, almost). And there was a lot of wedding loving taking place around the world on Saturday 19 May 2018 with 24 million viewers in the UK alone – more than a third of the population – tuned in for the long-awaited union of Harry and Meghan, now The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at St George’s Chapel within Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. It was one of the most-watched Royal Weddings in history.
When you have legions of broadcasters descending on the city of Windsor, Berkshire, from all over the world to cover the nuptials and surrounding ceremonies within the 11th century Windsor Castle walls as well as the extensive grounds – you need to ensure your outgoing feeds are resilient.
SIS LIVE was the sole connectivity supplier to the wedding’s host broadcaster.
Onsite discretion and reliability were paramount. Cameras, cables, and trucks and those that accompany them behind the scenes must be all but invisible. The key is to perform flawlessly and, therefore, be unnoticed.
SIS LIVE was located in an accredited TV compound area within the castle walls. Visiting and foreign broadcasters were located in specific areas outside. A foreign broadcast compound was established at Windsor Rugby Football Club’s Home Park, which is practically adjacent to the castle. A number of jumbo screens were established there for public viewing, and the setting also provided a picture postcard studio backdrop of Windsor Castle to complement their commentary and analysis.
SIS LIVE had one single dish HD SNG truck at Home Park providing services to foreign broadcasters. A single-dish 4K UHD SNG truck and reporter were at Cliveden House to cover the bride making her way to the ceremony in the luxury Phantom IV Rolls Royce, allowing the world the first glimpse of her. SIS LIVE provided nearly 70 hours of satellite time around and including the actual three-hour event to provide the main feed and highlight packages throughout the world.
SIS LIVE was connected to the host presentation OB scanner and also had two dual–antennae HD SNG trucks parked on Castle Walk at Windsor Castle. One of the challenges we had was to ensure the multiple sites available to us were thoroughly surveyed. As you might expect from a Royal residence, it is basically a lavish garden area, which in turn means there is a great deal of sensitivity that must be taken in terms of where you can position cables and equipment. The location of the vehicles had to be carefully considered, taking into account flight paths, large trees that may affect the line of sight and the numerous number of event suppliers setting up who we were conscious of not disrupting. Security is tight and entering and leaving the site adds additional time.
Moreover, because the venue remained open to the public for much of the day right up until the wedding day itself, there were tight working restrictions during the day. You couldn’t run cables, pitch cameras, or be seen wandering about in high visibility vests during those times. In SIS LIVE’s case, we were in six days before the wedding to ensure everything could be discreetly put in place and be found to be working properly all the while adhering to the working hours restrictions.
It’s no surprise that Windsor Castle is a Grade I Listed Building, which means it’s protected at the highest levels as a matter of historic significance and national importance. You don’t just rear back and fling a roll of cable over the ramparts. It takes time to carefully plan ways to run them in in a way that doesn’t fall foul of the many restrictions in place. A lot of time is spent finding ways to discreetly tuck cables and associated miscellanea away, completely out of sight.
SIS LIVE was able to achieve this through lots of advance planning meetings with local and Royal officials to, essentially, find places to hide. As a long-standing, trusted, and approved connectivity supplier for these type of events, SIS LIVE has an enormous amount of experience.
SIS LIVE’s long-term relationships and success are only possible with levels of trust and understanding that are born from a long track record of “no surprises”. SIS LIVE has annual meetings with a wide range of parties to discuss a variety of potential occasions and how to approach them. Much of what these meetings revisit and revise are plans that have been established for many years, but must take into account contemporary issues. From that you can rightly deduce that there are very few, if any, surprises, whether an event takes place at short notice, is a regular occurrence, or a one-off such as a wedding or birth.
Anyone who watched the wedding – and there were an estimated two billion around the world – would have to say that everything went very smoothly.
SIS LIVE participated in technical rehearsals before the big day on the Saturday morning and there were no issues on the day as it was so very well rehearsed. All feeds went back to London to be played out by the host broadcaster, which also had a large production team on site in Windsor for coverage destined for multiple channels and platforms.
There are reasons that the British are the best in the world at broadcasting such events.
And they are the same reasons that SIS LIVE is the preferred connectivity supplier for such events.
Experience, and expertise