The world's most popular and prestigious sporting event added aerial coverage for the first time in its illustrious history -- and they turned to partners Helifilms and Helimedia to make it all possible.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the most-watched television event in history: broadcast to over 70 countries, averaging 400 million people for each match, with over 700 million watching the closing ceremony alone.
This year was the first time the World Cup included helicopter footage, and it was shot exclusively with our Cineflex V14s. Our helicopter coverage was live for the opening and closing ceremonies, 2.5 hours of pre-match coverage, the kick-off of all matches, and during game play of the final between Spain and the Netherlands. Helifilms Australia was established in 1989, as a specialized aerial film production company. We own and operate six gyrostabilized camera systems -- five Cineflex V14s, and one Cineflex MSII with daylight as well as infrared cameras -- across our offices in the US, UK, Australia and South Africa.
As this was the first time FIFA had used aerial footage in a World Cup, we had to demonstrate the creative capabilities of the camera system, and the skills of our specialized aerial DPs to the match directors. They wanted to see how they could incorporate this new perspective into FIFA's "narrative" of a football game and the 10 cityscapes surrounding each stadium.
We worked on the bid with our partner company, Helimedia, who are based in South Africa. In the lead-up to the World Cup, we supplied the aerial footage for the Confederations Cup in South Africa in 2009, which is run and televised as a test event for the World Cup.
We then handpicked our specialized crews from around the world for the World Cup coverage: film pilots, aerial DPs, producers, directors, aerial coordinators, engineers and production assistants. The aerial unit crew was a total of 31 people, and then an RF unit of 11, organized into six teams. (The RF company supplied, integrated and managed the radio frequency technology on-board the helicopters and at the receive points at each stadium.
This enabled us to downlink the footage live from the air to the ground-based broadcast units.) In recent years, we have managed the complete aerial units for the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and 2006 Doha Asian Games. Additionally, we have been involved with the aerial coverage for feature films such as "District 9," and TVCs and documentaries such as the BBC's "Frozen Planet," "Human Planet," "Planet Earth" and "South Pacific" TV series.
This event was quite different from all of them, in that our six aerial units were simultaneously dispersed across the entire country. Aerial Unit Commander Jerry Grayson and Aerial Producer Sara Hine had three days of initial briefings with the entire aerial unit en masse in Johannesburg, before the teams were sent to their respective cities: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elisabeth, Rustenburg, Polokwane, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Nelspruit.
Each aerial unit worked on different schedules and for different directors, so their daily requirements could vary greatly. Rather than the entire group having daily briefings together, each team had daily briefings by mobile and email. Edited footage would also be shared so we could see the way in which each team would shoot their stadiums and cities, to maintain consistency between the teams.