A radical update of the entire AV infrastructure at legendary motorsport venue Circuit Paul Ricard has seen Sony equipment chosen for all video security cameras, laser projectors and professional displays.
The owners of the circuit – which is located at Le Castellet, near Marseille – wanted to modernise the facilities that have made it one of the safest motor racing circuits in the world. That meant updating the ageing video monitoring systems. Bulky, inefficient CRT screens over a decade old were becoming increasingly unreliable, consuming a lot of power and generating significant heat; and video surveillance – provided by a network of analogue CCTV cameras – also needed an update.
Outdoor motorsport presents a tough environment, with on-track temperatures that can rise as high as 50° at times, as well as rainy, snowy or windy conditions at others. Racing at night presents an extra challenge: it’s hard to get detailed pictures in near-darkness with added glare from the cars’ headlights.
The 5.8km track can be configured in over 160 different race set-ups, which must be monitored in every possible situation. Indoors, analogue video monitoring screens consume a lot of power and generate significant heat, especially when they’re used 24 hours a day for some events.
The circuit has now updated its entire video infrastructure with the help of Sony, plus networked communications specialist SOGETREL and software vendor SeeTec.
Centrepiece in the main Control Room is a videowall made up of nine Sony 60in BRAVIA Full HD Professional Displays. The wall is supplemented by further Sony monitors in portrait mode displaying images from cameras around the circuit, plus a dedicated screen displaying race timing information. In addition, a VPL-FHZ55 3LCD laser light source projector displays crisp images of the race leader, while a second VPL-FHZ55 assists safety and efficient race management by providing an overall situational view of the circuit captured by on-track cameras.
Real-time race footage plus videos and other information play to fans on over 100 interconnected BRAVIA professional displays around the venue.
Twelve VIP boxes are equipped with 48in BRAVIA displays. They’re supplemented by a further 75 32in Full HD displays in the main stands and 18 40in Full HD displays in the press room. Sony solutions also feature in the main reception area, with three 65in BRAVIA 4K professional displays offering 4K image quality of the Circuit Paul Ricard, together with touch-enabled BRAVIA professional display solutions to guide visitors around the installations. Kids and adults can even play automotive Sony PlayStation 4 games to enhance the fan experience.
The nearby 'Grand Prix Burger' restaurant is also kitted out with eight Sony displays in 48in and 65in sizes that show menu prices and sporting action.
Five SNC-EM632R outdoor IR ruggedised 1080p/30fps cameras keep watch around the venue, while out on the circuit itself, 40 SNC-WR632 Full HD PTZ network cameras capture every move of the speeding race vehicles at 60fps.
HD streams are transmitted over IP to feed the live BRAVIA videowall in the Control Room, providing a detail-packed view with virtually no latency. It’s easy to identify each car clearly, even in dark or night-time conditions.
The PTZ cameras offer very good close-up detail, making it easier to spot whether distant trails on the track are hazardous oil or just water. Their on-board image stabiliser ensures pictures are vibration-free, even in windy conditions. The cameras have also helped locate the cars' tiny transponders that sometimes get lost on the circuit.
For redundancy, a separate analogue video output is distributed simultaneously to BRAVIA displays around the venue.
Thierry Dostes, IT systems manager at Circuit Paul Ricard, commented: “Now we’re getting pictures from night-time races with a quality that’s close to daylight conditions. We can really follow the cars and react quickly if something happens. Video from the cameras can be displayed on the video wall of Sony screens and video projectors, and we can also share this externally with our customers.
“What we really appreciated – above the quality and compatibility of Sony’s products – is the responsiveness of the team, who’ve always been on hand to answer our questions.”