Gearhouse Broadcast brings new dimension to V8 Supercars

Now full technology partner for V8 Media.

The V8 Supercars Championship is the third most attended and fourth most watched sport in Australia. Signature events include the Clipsal 500 Adelaide, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Castrol EDGE Townsville 400, Castrol Gold Coast 600 and the NRMA Sydney 500. This year Gearhouse Broadcast’s relationship with V8 Supercars has stepped up a gear as the company has moved from being the championship’s OB provider to its full technology partner. As part of this new role Gearhouse was tasked with bringing real innovation that would enhance the viewer experience to the races, a task Gearhouse embraced with vigour.

First off the grid was an entirely new in-car HD camera offering designed and installed as part of Gearhouse’s Joint Venture with BSI USA, the in-car camera specialists for NASCAR. Now at V8 Supercar races every single car will have in-car cameras with 10 cars each having four.

New cameras include, the hamburger 360-degree roof camera. A 360-degree in-cockpit camera, fixed POV cameras and an in-boot 180-degree side-to-side tracking camera with all cameras boasting iris control, colour correction and clean screen functionality. In addition any camera can be switched synchronously into the transmission path leaving the car giving total on board coverage.

Gearhouse Broadcast Sales Director Manny Papas explained, “These cameras are revolutionary as they completely change the way viewers experience the race. There are more cameras than ever before and we can bring ten individual streams back to our hybrid HD9 supertruck simultaneously and switch between them at any time as the director chooses.”

A further viewing enhancement has come by way of Foxtel and Fox Sports’ new “red button” functionality. Now with all the in-car cameras supplied by Gearhouse/BSI viewers can select from four feeds and listen to live audio from the cars by simply pressing the red button on their Foxtel remote control.

Papas added, “The red button functionality really makes you feel you are in the car as you watch what the drivers see and hear. It’s a very immersive and engaging experience.”

For the first time this year Gearhouse has also designed and installed a completely new digital communications system for all of the teams and the TV production crews. In part due to the government’s frequency sell off, Gearhouse migrated all the communications from analogue to digital so all the frequencies could be managed efficiently and effectively. Gearhouse bring back all the comms from the cars to the pits and to the TV production crews by using the fibre optic network that they install around each racetrack.

Gearhouse’s involvement doesn’t end there as it also supplies V8 Supercars with state of the art RF cameras. A maximum of six RF cameras cover the pit and paddock areas operating in the 7G band. Utilising multiple receive sites and a bespoke system combining Gigawave MDR and Vislink 1700/2174 systems enables Gearhouse to offer full access all areas coverage.

Also implemented and delivered in the pits and paddock is the very latest in IFB and wireless microphone systems for presenters. For this solution Gearhouse use multiple fibre optically interconnected and combined transceiver sites that are deployed to give 100% coverage using only 100mW handheld transmitters, allowing a far cleaner look for the production and lower noise floor for the rest of the operations. This comprehensive coverage and look is achieved using Wisycom wide band radio microphones, in ear monitoring and RF over fibre solutions to maximise flexibility and operability in today’s compressed RF spectrum. Centralised monitoring and configuration of the entire system is possible using Wisycom software putting full diagnostics and control in the hands of the audio engineer and director onsite. All electrical IO from the system is contained within Gearhouse’s OB truck eliminating the need for copper cabling in the field and ensuring the critical hardware is in a controlled environment.

Gearhouse Broadcast Australia Head of Engineering Stephen Edwards said, “The move to a common fibre optic network and this centralised method of implementation for the radio microphones, IFB, RF cameras, UHF communications and on-board cameras is key to building efficient, reliable systems and is a definite step forward from traditional OB architecture.”

Gearhouse have also presented the complete graphics hardware using nine VizRT’s Viz Trio graphics engines integrating race graphics, touch screen and virtual advertising.

At the hub of all this incredible technology is Gearhouse’s new, purpose-built for V8 Supercars HD9 hybrid supertruck. Housing the VizRT graphics system alongside all the usual high-end production tools the 12 camera-capable HD9 also boasts four EVS XT3 replay systems and control of all the in-car and pit lane RF cameras. Alongside these systems sits the central receive and transmit hardware for all radio microphone, IFB and UHF communications equipment. HD9 is also linked to one of Gearhouse’s other supertrucks, HD5, by fibre optic cable allowing most of the production facilities to be doubled and thus coverage of all qualifying and all the races to be easily, efficiently and comprehensively covered.

Manny Papas concluded, “We have literally pulled out all the stops for V8 Supercars Media this year. The viewer experience is far better than ever before and the amazing reactions from fans speak for themselves.”

In 2015 there are 14 Championship events plus the Rolex 2015 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. V8 Supercars races are broadcast in Australia on FOX Sports and Network Ten.