Rally de France: Canal+, AMP VISUAL TV in command of the race

After the 24 hours of Le Mans in June, AMP VISUAL TV was once again the facilities provider for a major motor-racing event. The French round of the World Rally Championship, held 4-7 October in Alsace, was broadcast live in its entirety on Sport+.

The race was an important event in the world of French sports, with Citroën driver Sébastien Loeb likely to win his record ninth world driver’s title. Canal+, which had obtained the broadcasting rights from the French Federation of Automobile Sport, wanted to strongly mark the occasion by airing for the first time 20 out of the 22 timed stages of the World Rally Championship live on its sports channel Sport+ and two on the Internet site of Canal+.

François-Charles Bideaux, sports production director for Canal+, orchestrated the planning and the development of the project.

It’s a case for RF
“Considering the extensive area that needed to be covered — i.e. on a regional scale — the key to successful broadcasting definitely lay in the RF broadcasting setup,” stated Alexi Hulin, who is in charge of producing the event for AMP VISUAL TV, the provider chosen by the pay-TV channel.

Even though the RF hub was at the Zenith de Strasbourg in eastern France, where the race directors were based, the stages were spread over a 100-km range.

Having become an expert on the subject, the company from Sables-d’Olonne operated an RF OB unit recording entirely in HD. Two teams of two people each took turns monitoring the incoming signals and the talkback circuit from the relay aircraft.

Because the cameras were a large distance away, a pressurized airplane able to fly at a height of 6,000 ft. had to be rented. The plane had the capacity to cover a 15-km area on the ground; it followed the stages closely and without interruption. On board, a technician was in charge of receiving the 19 video sources and transmitting seven to the OB unit.

On-board cameras and mobile setup
Ten cars carried Kappa-type on-board cameras with transmitters and compact flash cards for recording. GoPro cameras were also used in the cars to provide the international news coverage produced by the EBU.

For the special stages, seven tripod-mounted camcorders (of which three can be fitted with a microphone for interviews) were also used to cover the race. In addition, two helicopters were equipped with Cineflex HD systems and two beauty-shot cameras on cranes situated in the vicinity of the Zenith de Strasbourg.

Trimaran and a Belgian company, TV Data, provided the broadcast graphics.

AMP VISUAL TV installed GPS tracking in the cars for the live timing displays. Also, it was the first major event covered by the company’s new Extender OB unit.


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