Soaring success of Red Bull Air Race workflow highlights 4K sports versatility

With the successful production of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in 4K, Sony arguably raised the bar for the transmission of sport events to another level. In fact, all kinds of different sports can benefit from an advanced workflow in 4K; for example, when TVN Mobile Production and Euro TV delivered coverage of the recent Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Gdynia, Poland, they undertook a Sony 4K workflow for production of the sports plane competition.

The single-engine sports planes with about 350HP can reach speeds of up to 400km per hour. The acceleration forces appearing in narrow curves of 10 to (for a short time) 12g require from the pilots – alongside great concentration and aeronautical precision – a high physical load-carrying capacity. At the Red Bull Air Race, the propeller planes were filmed with five Sony PMW-F55 cameras, connected to the MVS-8000X high-end video mixer in 4K mode. The 4K files were stored on a PWS-4400 XAVC-4K server, which can be equipped with up to 8TB of memory.

For this competition TVN developed a special flightcase solution and also located its TVN-Ü2HD OB van on site. During the event, the 4K signal was transmitted via fiber optic to the Sky Lounge, as well as to the Race Club where the attendees could see the pictures on Sony‘s 84” UHD displays .

“By filming in 4K we could capture the tension during the race, but at the same time also the beauty of the harbour and the sea panorama,” says Christoph Moll, production engineer, TVN Mobile Production. “Sony‘s 4K technology perfectly supported the whole process from the video capture up to the management and storage of the files.” Moll’s TVN colleague, CEO Markus Osthaus, underlines the fact that these R&D projects have only been possible thanks to long-term cooperation with Sony.

For Sony Europe, strategic manager Claus Pfeifer observes: “The Red Bull Air Race is one of the hardest and most thrilling matches held at the moment. This event provides the perfect scope for the staging of the unique and consistent shots in Sony’s UHD.”

Following on from the huge success of the FIFA World Championship 2014 in 4K, events like the Red Bull Air Race offer proof that the new format has revolutionary implications for any kind of sport. Moreover, the test production by TVN made it possible to inspect Sony’s 4K technologies during a live event and to witness the extremely high quality of the images. In most of its OB vans and studios, TVN is already making use of cameras, mixers and monitors manufactured by Sony.

Pfeifer concludes: “This is the first time that we could highlight the advantages and image quality of 4K with such a dynamic and extreme sports event. The Red Bull spectacle was a great example that shows how to use technologies for modern 4K-and-more workflows.”

In addition to the 4K test series, TVN worked with a prototype of Sony’s modified PMW-F65 in order to take 8K shots of the pilots at the Red Bull Air Race.

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