Bexel Global Broadcast Solutions (Bexel Global), Vitec Group’s Production Services business unit and a leading worldwide provider of broadcast services and solutions, has provided support and infrastructure for the pope’s recent visit to Ecuador. Bexel Global was contracted by the Ecuadorian Government, specifically the Secretaría Nacional de Comunicación (SECOM), to provide the host feed infrastructure for the papal visit.
Pope Francis arrived at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito on July 5, where he was greeted with a formal welcome ceremony. On July 6, he flew to Guayaquil to celebrate Mass in Samanes Park, after a visit to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, among other stops. Upon his return to Quito, his many activities included a visit to the presidential palace and a public celebration of Mass at the Bicentenary Park. Bexel Global built two International Broadcast Centers (IBCs), one in each city, to downlink the feeds from all of the venues the pope would be visiting in Ecuador.
“This was a very exciting project to be a part of, and we were extremely honored to be selected by Pablo Xavier Yanez Saltos, vice minister for SECOM,” said Craig Schiller, vice president of engineering and operations for Bexel Global. “They contracted local OB (Outside Broadcast) companies to cover major locations, such as the initial airport arrivals and the Mass in both Quito and Guayaquil. They also had up to eight mobile units stationed along the pope’s travel routes. Bexel Global received all program signals from the mobile units, managed the feeds through our International Broadcast Centers where they were reviewed for quality assurance, and sent out to broadcast to a worldwide audience.”
When Pope Francis traversed public routes, he travelled in the popemobile. To ensure the most complete coverage possible, Bexel Global was tasked with installing wireless camera systems in a lead vehicle and a chase vehicle around the popemobile, along with two stabilized camera systems mounted on two military/police helicopters for city-wide coverage.
“When outside broadcast feeds weren’t available, our popemobile feeds took over,” noted Schiller. “The camera in the chase car was also wireless to the vehicle. So in the event that the Pope left his vehicle to greet someone in the crowd, the wireless camera systems would be able to follow him into the crowd. It was an extra step, but it really provided maximum flexibility in securing the coverage between locations in both cities. Our Master Control Rooms (MCRs) provided the main switch to receive the signals from the outside broadcast trucks along the way and to incorporate our live coverage from the wireless camera systems covering the popemobile. We provided the master control room infrastructure to retransmit the host feed and distribute to the global press.”
Bexel Global also provided the press distribution locally in both cities. A main press room was established at the Hilton Colon Quito, where Bexel Global’s International Broadcast Center was located, for on-site reporters to set up and record the signal. In executing this international project, Bexel worked closely with technology partners IMS for satellite infrastructure and Broadcast Sports, Inc. (BSI) for wireless transmission.
Bexel Global had 60 people on the ground in Ecuador for a period of two weeks to support over 507 pieces of equipment totaling more than 60,000 pounds, or 27,215 kilograms. The equipment shipping logistics were handled by SOS Global, via specially chartered flights, and utilized Bexel’s proprietary inventory and shipping system. “The hallmark of Bexel Global is providing best-in-class production services to support our international community of customers. In this case, we were particularly able to draw on our experience from last year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and other major global events, to deliver a seamless experience for the pope’s tour of Ecuador. Our team did an amazing job, and the multilingual skills of many our technicians and logistics crew made communications on this project all the more efficient.”
“When we launched Bexel Global earlier this year, this prestigious project was exactly the type of work we were looking to undertake,” notes Gregory Bragg, vice president of global sales for Bexel Global. “We’ve been able to successfully expand our worldwide customer base because of our rigorous standards for quality and the unique breadth of our services. Our work supporting the pope’s tour of Ecuador was a prime example of that, and we look forward to further building our relationships in the Latin American market. It was a true privilege to work with SECOM on this project.”