Re-equipping Circuit Paul Ricard

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One of the most iconic venues in French motorsport, Circuit Paul Ricard has been comprehensively overhauled by Sony

In order to remain at the forefront of the technological evolution – and to modernise its innovative facilities that have made it one of the safest motor racing circuits in the world – Circuit Paul Ricard’s owners needed to update their ageing video monitoring systems.

Bulky, inefficient CRT screens over a decade old were becoming increasingly unreliable, whilst the existing video surveillance also needed an update from the venue’s network of analogue CCTV cameras.

Motorsport presents a tough environment, with cars speeding through scorching on-track temperatures that can rise as high as 50° as well as rainy, snowy and windy conditions. Racing at night presents an extra challenge: it’s hard to get detailed pictures in near-darkness with added glare from the cars’ headlights.

With a total length of 5.8km, Paul Ricard can be configured in over 160 different ways for races, which must be monitored for every possible situation. Indoors, the original analogue video monitoring screens consumed a lot of power and generated significant heat, especially when they’re used for 24-hour endurance events.

By upgrading its facilities, the circuit also looked to compete with other world-class race tracks around the world – furthering its reputation as a premier destination for drivers, teams, and fans alike.

Circuit Paul Ricard has updated its entire video infrastructure with the help of Sony, plus networked communications specialist SOGETREL and software vendor SeeTec.

Centrepiece of the main Control Room is a large video wall, consisting of nine Sony 60″ BRAVIA Full HD Professional displays (above). 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 (below) 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.

Race fans can enjoy the day’s events in comfort, watching real-time race footage plus videos and other information on over 100 interconnected BRAVIA Professional Displays around the venue.

Twelve VIP boxes are equipped with 48” BRAVIA displays. They’re supplemented by a further 75 32” Full HD displays in the main stands and eighteen 40” Full HD displays in the Press room. Sony solutions also feature in the main reception area, with three 65″ BRAVIA 4K Professional Displays offering stunning 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 games on Sony PlayStation 4 to enhance the true fan experience.

The nearby ´Grand Prix Burger´ restaurant is also kitted out with eight Sony displays in 48″ and 65″ sizes that show menu prices and sporting action.

Five SNC-EM632R outdoor IR ruggedised 1080p/30fps cameras (above) keep a watchful eye around the venue. Out on the circuit itself, 40 SNC-WR632 Full HD PTZ network cameras capture every split-second move of the speeding race vehicles at a crisp, detail-packed 60fps (frames per second).

HD streams are transmitted over IP to feed the live BRAVIA video wall in the Control Room. A separate analogue video output is distributed simultaneously to BRAVIA displays around the venue, which allow a “double safety” of recording.

In the Control Room, streams from the track-side PTZ cameras provide a crisp, detail-packed High Definition view with virtually no latency. It’s easy to identify each car clearly, even in dark weather conditions or when races sometimes happen at night.

Offering up to 20,000 hours operation without replacement, the laser light source in the VPL-FHZ55 dramatically cuts maintenance overheads for busy technical support staff. What’s more, the laser projector’s near-instant start-up means that no time’s wasted waiting for lamps to warm up at the start of a session.

As Circuit Paul Ricard’s long-term technology partner, Sony was selected to provide a complete, integrated network AV solution in conjunction with system integrator SOGETREL and video management software specialist SeeTec.

The circuit’s owners wanted to future-proof its appeal as a world-class venue, with the very best solution incorporating the latest AV innovations including laser and 4K display technologies. Sony was able to provide this, offering a total solution spanning cameras, screens and projectors. In addition, the management team valued Sony’s responsiveness as a partner in delivering products on time and also answering technical questions.

Sony cameras are ideal for capturing fast-paced racing action in a variety of lighting and weather conditions, and in a wide range of different track configurations.

The PTZ cameras’ powerful optical zoom offers exceptional close-up detail, making it easier to spot whether distant trails on the track are hazardous oil or just water. It’s also been used to help locate the cars tiny transponders that sometimes get lost on the circuit. And thanks to the cameras’ on-board image stabiliser, pictures are crisp and vibration-free, even in windy conditions.

Choosing energy-efficient BRAVIA Professional Displays has dramatically reduced electrical power consumption. The customer also praised the displays’ ease of installation, excellent picture quality and the wide range of different screen sizes offered by BRAVIA.

“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,” explained Thierry Dostes, IT systems manager at Circuit Paul Ricard. “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.”

Click here to see a video, which details the revisions Sony made to the Circuit Paul Ricard

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About Author


John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive portfolio. Prior to joining the company, John worked for leading automotive design website, Car Design News. Currently editor of Engine Technology International, Professional MotorSport World, Professional MotorSport Circuit, and Transmission Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web and social media content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as chairman of the annual Professional MotorSport World Awards.

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