The Lincoln Film Production Society (LFPS) intends to capture all four days of the competition through a series of riverside cameras and will provide live commentary and infographics as part of its coverage.
Neptune Investment Management, the sponsors of last year’s tournament, have provided the LFPS with financial backing for the project which will be the first attempt from a student society to broadcast the event in its 198-year history.
The LFPS hope to improve the Summer Eights experience for rowers and spectators alike by setting up eight high definition webcams along the racecourse, which will broadcast an online stream.
Ashley Fisher, the President of the LFPS, believes the broadcast is necessary for the enjoyment of the event. “At Summer Eights last year we were on top of Lincoln boathouse and I didn’t see anything happening,” he said.
“It was all happening further up the river, and all we got was a klaxon without an immediate explanation. We’ve designed a system based on CCTV and we’re using different bits of technology that aren’t meant to go together.
“Individual things are working better than expected and a full test run will take place during the first week of the Vac down by the river. We’ve still got a couple of issues to iron out.”
All live footage will be accompanied by commentary while a roving camera crew on Boathouse Island will capture the reactions of competitors and spectators, which will be shown in the breaks between races.
Fisher continued: “In the studio we hope to inject some interest into the whole thing with commentators and presenters making it more interesting. The commentators will be watching the feed and will have access to all the information Oxford University Rowing Clubs (OURCs) have.
“We’ll have the provisional results for each race before the appeals and we’ve got some really nice on-screen graphics for scoreboards.”
He added: “The project is being entirely fuelled by Neptune Investment Management, and we have a budget of £8,000.”
The LFPS are not shying away from the enormity of the task. Harry Mallon, the society’s Treasurer, explained: “It’s very ambitious, to the point that there are six or seven things that could still go wrong and would stop it happening.
“It’s very low budget for what we’re trying to do. We’ve looked at students at other universities who have tried to do similar things and there’s a group in America who do televising of sports events like American Football.
“Their cameras are £7,000 each, but there is no real reason why our project shouldn’t be achievable.”
The idea itself is the brainchild of Richard Keen, a third-year historian at Lincoln who was LFPS President last year, and he is keen for as many students as possible to help with the coverage.
“We need roughly 60 people to cover the whole show,” he said. “Anyone is welcome to join us in this great project, regardless of prior experience. The LFPS hopes to run ‘training’ sessions ahead of its coverage next term to ensure everyone is adequately up to speed before the big event.”
He added: “As far as I’m aware no one, especially not any student society on such a low budget, has ever done anything quite like this before.”
The society hope to cover all four days of rowing but Mallon conceded that this will depend on the number of recruits. He said: “Summer Eights in Oxford is a big thing both inside the rowing community and outside.
“We hope to cover all days but that depends on how many people we can get in. We will be covering at least the Saturday and one day before.”
The project has received overwhelming appraisal from Oxford’s rowing community. Asgeir Birksson, the President of Lincoln College Boat Club, said: “I think it’s great that Summer Eights will be broadcasted, and I’m proud that the Lincoln Film Production Society has taken on the challenge of doing so.
“I believe it will enhance the experience for rowers, who can point families and friends at home to the broadcast for them to watch them compete, for current students and for alumni, many of whom remain interested in how their boat club fares in the competition.”
Kate Shore, Lincoln’s Women’s captain, added: “I think this is a fantastic idea, as everyone will be able to know what’s going on above the gut. It will make the atmosphere on Boathouse Island much better.”
Rowers at other colleges were equally enthused by the plans. Max Lau, the Captain of Boats at Oriel, commented: “For those watching from the banks, if screens could be set up by the boathouses it would finally solve the problem of bumps happening before they ever pass by boathouse island.
“As amusing as the commentators can be, seeing the bumps happening up by Donny bridge would certainly improve the experience.”
Livvy Elder, last year’s women’s captain at Corpus, said: “I think it’s a really good idea, as a finalist I will be able to watch it without having to go down to the river! If you’re at a college far from the river it will make it easier to watch the event, while filming could also help with umpiring decisions.”
Paul Cheston, a rower in Univ’s M2 boat, added: “It will be exciting, especially to be able to eye up the other boats in our division ahead of a race.”
The LFPS hope spectators will be able to view the stream from their own laptops or mobile phones while watching from Boathouse Island.
Neptune were unavailable for comment.