Gearhouse Broadcast Installs Harris Backbone for Sky Formula 1 Coverage

When the F1 races are in Europe the Pods will travel on flatbed trucks

International systems integration company Gearhouse Broadcast has installed Harris signal processing and conversion technology to provide the backbone of a new mobile High Definition (HD) production facility being used by British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) to televise the 2012 Formula 1 motor racing championship. Amongst the Harris systems installed in this innovative flyaway Pod system are 6800+™ core processing, Harris fibre optics and up, down and cross signal conversion systems.

Sky Sports is broadcasting Formula 1 races for the first time in a deal that started in March 2012. All the races, qualifying and practice sessions will be broadcast live and uninterrupted on Sky Sports’ dedicated HD satellite channel - Sky Sports F1 HD. All content is being produced in HD and 5.1 audio, which has added a new dimension to Sky Sports coverage.

Gearhouse Broadcast’s Projects Solutions division was awarded the contract to build a series of four interconnecting Flyaway Pods for the satellite broadcaster’s coverage of Formula 1 motor racing. Since the awarding of the contract in late October 2011, the design, build and integration of the Pods took four months to complete.


Sky Sports’ full onsite broadcast specification is a mixture of portacabins linked into the Flyaway Pods which contain the servers, audio facilities and all the technical equipment needed to support the production. The portacabins house the main production gallery, on air EVS, editing, logging and the production office.

“For BSkyB we have created a mobile production facility that is capable of producing the highest quality HD pictures and sound as well as being able to be easily transported between the 20 races that are spread worldwide,” commented Kevin Moorhouse, Chief Operating Officer at Gearhouse Broadcast. “When you are building a mission critical live production facility such as this, it is important to identify a brand and technology that glues the various components together.


“We needed an architecture and technical structure that integrates all the key components under one operating system and user interface. From our experience as an international SI, Harris is listening to the end user and is tuned in with what the user wants from those technologies.”

Bespoke HD live production facility
The bespoke Flyaways, built and integrated by Gearhouse Broadcast, comprise of four 17 tonne interconnecting airline Pods that are standard Q6 construction with aviation bases. They are made up of a MCR Pod housing all the distribution, routing and camera control, a Server Pod housing all the EVS, Avid and SAN storage, an Audio Pod which houses the 5.1 audio control room and a Stowage Pod which is used to store all the loose equipment.


When the F1 races are in Europe the Pods will travel on flatbed trucks and when the races are taking place outside of Europe they will fly as cargo on Boeing 747’s.

Darren Long, Sky director of Operations said: “We chose Gearhouse Broadcast because we needed a very specialist facility company that had the experience to understand the complexity of how to build and then deploy one of the most complex broadcast systems to 20 racetracks around the world.”

"Live Formula 1 coverage draws massive TV audiences and so the reliability and stability of BskyB’s HD production facility is critical,” commented Mathias Eckert, vice president, sales and services, Europe & Africa. “Gearhouse Broadcast’s decision to use Harris technologies to provide the backbone of this advanced facility is a testament to the quality of our products and our ability to work closely with this pioneering Systems Integrator.”