Produced by BBC, Top Gear is filmed in a hangar at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome in Surrey, England, where the official Top Gear track is located. Being a fully operational airfield throws up several logistical challenges for the production team to overcome. For example, in order to use the runway as part of the track, they need to close the airfield it to incoming aircraft during filming. And because the hangar that the set is housed in is used to store aircraft, the production team can’t run cables as freely as they would on a normal project.
Ahead of the 24th series in 2017, BBC turned to Gearhouse Broadcast to supply the technical facilities required to be able to record the show to the highest standards inside the working hangar. Gearhouse’s skilled team laid fibre under the road across the entrance to the track to allow connectivity from the production offices to the master control room (MCR). The permanent installation of the fibre at the site has since sped up the production setup for future productions at the airfield.
With the fibre in place and the road re-surfaced, Gearhouse then set up the media control room with four racks, and an audio supervisor room with a Calrec desk. Six cameras were also provided for the production, including Sony HDC-4300s, Sony MVS-6530s and a flyaway portable production gallery.
Each car used in the filming of the series was fitted with a wireless transmitter, so as they lap the track, the footage from the on-board cameras is sent to the production team in the main control room.
This permanent set up meant that BBC didn’t need to waste time reprogramming any kit or on unnecessary and costly rig days. Unlike OB facilities providers that are only onsite during shoots, the Dunsfold Park Aerodrome became a proper studio facility. All the kit could be left in overnight except for cameras – saving time and money.