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Video Production in an Extreme World – Volvo Ocean race 2014-15

Now that the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is underway I thought I’d take you through the camera tech that has been incorporated into the new Volvo Ocean 65 racing yachts. Since the last edition there have been quite a few developments in both the technology and the way the onboard reporters (OBRs) are telling the many stories of the race.

These new boats have been designed with the communications equipment in mind from the beginning and the crew and race control are certainly using the equipment to maximum effect. There are five fixed cameras on each yacht as well as three infra-red lights to capture what goes on through the night as these yachts race 24/7. The camera positions are as follows –

Port Spreader
Starboard Spreader
Hatch camera
Stern Camera
Bow Camera

This enables a multitude of angles to be captured by the OBR from the relative comfort of the media station below deck as they can all be remotely operated using Livewire’s HD Media Controller (www.livewire.co.uk). As well as these cameras there are 5 microphones placed carefully around the boat so the viewer can get a real feel for what it’s like down in the roaring forties. This also makes interviews with the skippers and crew members a lot easier than before as demonstrated in the video below.

Fixed cameras and microphones are great but the OBR also has handheld cameras and action cameras at his disposal along with two camera and two audio uplink points, this tech enables the OBR to get up close and personal with the crew members and report on things such as what’s for supper, how different weather patterns can affect a route and how something is repaired when it breaks.

This year has seen a huge improvement to the media coming into our homes from the boats and the tech is only one part of this, the other is the ability and effort of the OBRs. Compared to the the last edition of the race there have been more personal moments, more interesting explanations of what the sailors have to think about and more amazing shots of the weather they face and the sailors have only just completed leg two. Below are a few of my favorite moments so far –

This video shows all the cameras available to the OBRs and the shots from the sailor mounted cameras really put you right in the action –

This video captures the amazing and upsetting moment Team Vestas Wind grounded their yacht. This was achievable due to the recording systems they have onboard, once an event happens a crew member can press the crash record button and the previous 4 minutes and following four minutes will be recorded from a pre-determined camera and microphone, in this case the stern camera. It also demonstrates how well the infra-red system and gimble mount works.

The next video shows what happens when a sail tears. It’s great that the sailors are explaining whats going on and the OBR captures the story incredibly well.

And finally this video shows a bit of humor

So maybe there were more than a few but what can I say…it’s a great race and all the media is fascinating. If you want to see more check out the Volvo Ocean Race YouTube Channel, here you can also find the Inside Track series which is a daily round up of race news and Life At The Extreme which is a weekly round up show.

I think this blog demonstrates perfectly how versatile and awe inspiring video can be, when, firstly there is a strong narrative and secondly when you have the correct kit to get the shots that matter.

If you would like to find out more about video and the endless possibilities it can offer please get in touch with either myself or Andy on 01273 911345 or send us an email.

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