Red Bull turns to Riedel for race support

The 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship, which culminated in a Barcelona final, was supported by intercom, fibre and audio systems specialist, Riedel. The company provided communications and signal distribution solutions, integrating HD video and audio signals as well as wireless and wired digital intercom systems.

Britain’s Paul Bonhomme won the Championship with a victory in the final race of the season in Barcelona in front of a record crowd of 800,000 spectators, holding off a ferocious challenge from defending champion Hannes Arch of Austria. Bonhomme won after a brilliant performance in the final on the 6.4-km long track through a challenging 15-Air Gate obstacle course set up just meters above the surface of the Mediterranean Sea.

For the sixth year in a row, Riedel Communications is serving as the official global supplier of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Riedel, a manufacturer of intercom, fibre and audio systems, provides rental services for wireless and wired communications solutions. The company provided communications and signal distribution solutions, integrating HD video and audio signals as well as wireless and wired digital intercom systems. Additionally, Riedel is supplying the wireless video links for the race planes’ onboard cameras enabling stunning pictures to be delivered from the pilots’ perspectives.

The demands on the technical infrastructure of such a production, which includes the set-up of a mobile airport including a control tower, are enormous. The signal distribution infrastructure for video, audio, communications and data of such a production plays a key role, since it directly affects all other areas of the production. Since the 2009 season this infrastructure is based on Riedel MediorNet, a fibre signal transport solution that includes routing and signal processing. The communications and video signal infrastructure of the Air Race production in Barcelona covered large areas. Video signals were needed at several locations for various applications such as the broadcast production, race control or video wall production. MediorNet’s network approach is capable of point-to-point and multipoint routing and delivered camera signals to the German production company SIVision with its new 16.5m 26 camera HD truck and the video production for the events video wall production.

The fibre-optic signal backbone of the event was based on seven MediorNet nodes, which transported intercom, HD video and audio signals uncompressed in real-time. Audio signals were interfaced via MADI and Riedel’s digital audio network solution RockNet. This allowed the seamless integration of the event’s main Yamaha audio mixing console, which provided the mix for the live audience. The events communications infrastructure was based on an Artist Digital Matrix Intercom network consisting of seven nodes connected via a dual redundant fibre ring. The seven frames were located in the Air Race control tower, the TV compound, the organisation compound and at the race airport. At a day-time open air event like this, the special eight-digit LED display keys of the Artist 1000 series allows clear labelling of destinations and readability under all lighting conditions including direct sunlight for all 130 RCP-1028 panels. In addition, the Artist 1000 panels provide broadcast quality audio and individual listen level control for each talk key.

“To ensure mission-critical communications and signal transport, we designed an integrated system that takes in account all aspects of this world-class production,” explained Yungmin Lee, project manager of Riedel Communications. “We are enabling the communications of over 650 people involved with each Red Bull Air Race. Everyone from the pilot to security and referees are utilising our state-of-the-art system.”

The Barcelona air race used both the event location at Park del Poblenou and the airport, which was in the city of Sabadell, about 25 km away. To connect both locations, Riedel provided a digital wireless data connection between both locations with extreme high bandwidth. This link transports HD camera signals, audio, video, VoIP, radio, intercom and Internet connections.

Spectacular views of the Red Bull Air Races came directly from the cockpits with 28 wireless video links. On-board cameras captured live footage from the pilot’s perspective, and Riedel ensured the secure signal transmission for video and audio. A specially engineered six-channel diversity receiver combines technologies of various manufacturers and guarantees the secure signal transmission of audio and video event during the most extreme flight manoeuvres. Four ground cameras were also utilised as well as two Cineplex high definition cameras in helicopters.

Time is a crucial factor for set-up of the event installation and has a direct effect to the production costs. MediorNet’s integration of various cabling infrastructures such as video, audio and data into one network is claimed to significantly reduce time and effort in installation. Besides time, weight is another relevant issue for the Red Bull Air Race. With races in six different countries around the globe the reduction in weight through the use of fibre instead of copper cables translates directly into a lower transportation costs. In addition MediorNet’s on-board signal processing and conversion also result in less transportation costs since it eliminates the need for various external devices such as up- and down-scalers.

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