24 at 90: AMP VISUAL TV delivers Le Mans’ anniversary race to global viewers
24 Hours of Le Mans is without doubt one of the most famous sports car endurance races in the world. Alas, its 90th edition – held on 22 and 23 June – was blighted by tragedy when Danish driver Allan Simonsen died from injuries sustained during a crash into a safety barrier only 10 minutes into the race. It was the first race fatality at the Sarthe circuit in 27 years.
Ultimately, fellow Dane Tom Kristensen prevailed to collect a record ninth Le Mans title (a victory that he touchingly dedicated to the memory of Simonsen). And in a not dissimilar example of continuity, AMP VISUAL TV was once again placed in charge of filming the event to produce the international feed on behalf of organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (AC).
No fewer than 34 Sony HDC 1500 cameras were deployed around the 13,629 km long racing circuit in order to film every aspect of the race track. All the cameras were connected to the main OB unit by fibre optics. Six mini camera systems were placed in the stands and video surveillance cameras were used as backup if necessary. Ten or so remote controlled cameras were embedded in the cars, while images were transmitted via 27 relay antennas that also featured fibre optic connections. The Ultra Motion Camera System provided slow-motion replays’ although capable of recording up to 2600 images per second on a server, an average of 800 images per second were recorded for Le Mans.
OB truck configuration
“This year we have assembled the Millenium Signature 1 and Extender 1 OB trucks. The first one houses the production team and includes a Kayak 450 vision mixer for the production of the international feed while the second one houses servers and graphics tools,” explained Alexis Hulin, who is head of the motor sports production division at AMP VISUAL TV, ahead of this year’s event.
Another interesting development for television viewers was the fact that all communication between the pilots and the pits, as well as the race director and the teams, was recorded in its entirety. This was able to be broadcast after a short time lapse in order to remove any confidential information.
The Extender RF truck was used to group the comprehensive facilities required to broadcast and receive HD signals.
Two broadcasters in the race
ACO entrusted IMG with the marketing rights for the Le Mans 24 Hours. In France, France Télévisions showed footage on France 2 of the atmosphere around the circuit one hour before the start, followed by the first two hours of the race. News flashes were included in sports and news programmes. France 3 then continued to broadcast the event on Sunday morning for about half an hour, as well as transmitting the last two hours of the race.
Eurosport, meanwhile, broadcast all the practice/qualifying sessions live starting from Wednesday 19 June. The entire 24 Hours race was relayed on the Eurosport and Eurosport 2 channels.