Expansive on-air team expected for Channel 4 F1?

A very interesting piece over at SVG Europe has dropped online today. The SVG Europe article confirms that Whisper Films will use Presteigne Broadcast equipment for their coverage of Formula 1 on Channel 4. Presteigne’s presence is a continuation of their BBC F1 contract which began in 2014.

The piece talks about the facilities that are built to cater for the Formula 1 coverage, all of the facilities fitting into two lightweight pods. It is well worth a read for those of you into the intrinsic technical details that is required to getting a Formula 1 broadcast on the air. There’s a few points I want to focus on from the piece.

Notably, Whisper Films will have four radio cameras instead of three radio cameras as in previous years. SVG Europe says that this is “to accommodate an expanded number of on-air talent upped from four to seven.” Given that the photo shoot for Channel 4’s F1 team is understood to have already taken place, you would not accommodate something that is not going to happen. I would assume this applies for the live races only given that you would not use four radio cameras for a highlights programme.

David O’Carroll, Presteigne’s Head of Technology said that this “enables Whisper to move around much more freely, for example, placing a couple of cameras at either end of the paddock or pit lane and throwing presentation between them or wherever the story is.” The above can be interpreted many ways. Does the increase from four to seven include the guests that they have throughout the show? The wording suggests we are strictly talking about the Channel 4 ‘on-air talent’.

In essence, it looks like Whisper could have two presentation teams on the go at the same time. My best guess is that four on-air talents would be in pit lane with a further three in the paddock. That does not necessarily mean that Channel 4 will be announcing two presenters for their Formula 1 coverage. The ‘paddock presenter’ would combine that with the pit lane reporter role. Until we see the full line-up, it is difficult to know how things will break down. An increase in cameras could also imply more build-up and post-race coverage on Channel 4 compared to the BBC for their live races.

Further down the piece, there’s a few bits that regular readers may already be aware of, but not actually seen in writing – i.e. the fact that broadcasters (in Channel 4’s case Whisper Films) are required to supply FOM with all footage filmed within the race circuit during a race weekend, even if said footage did not make the air. Presteigne will be picking up “about 24 main programme feeds” including on-board feeds, the post does not mention if Channel 4 plan on using said feeds online, so we will have to wait for that piece of news.

A fascinating point is that the idea in the future is to have the programme edited in London as opposed to on-location, although O’Carroll did not give a timeline for this being implemented. O’Carroll said that “remotely editing from London would save sending a number of editors around the world.” And, for those wondering, no plans for FOM to look into 4K or virtual reality, “at least for this season.”

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3 thoughts on “Expansive on-air team expected for Channel 4 F1?

  1. I read this slightly differently. To me it sounds as if Whisper are trying to secure the broadcasting rights for overseas markets (as the beeb did, and now Sky UK do for countries who do not have their own online broadcasters). This, to me, points to presenting every race as live, but creating a highlights package for when needs require it.

    This would make good business sense for the scale of the investment.

  2. Since 2011 I’ve wanted to be a presenter/commentator on motorsports, just watching this for the first time showed me how hard you have to work while on air, people are constantly shouting in your ear the entire time and you have to act like nothing’s happen. Kudos to all presenters everywhere. that looks bloody difficult.

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