Fast Forward Video heads to the track
The horse racing industry has a new way to record races courtesy of Fast Forward Video (FFV) and G.D.B. International and Playback Technologies. Know as the Fast Track Racing System, it has already been used successfully at tracks in Australia and New Zealand.
The system uses FFV DigiDeck hard-disk recorders with its high-quality Motion JPEG codec to encode and decode each frame of video individually. When the footage is paused at a given point, the DigiDeck produces a clean, solid image. In addition to horse racing, Motion JPEG allows the system to cover other fast-action sports such as car racing, greyhound racing, football, and tennis.
“Our racing-based customers are impressed by the quality of the recorded footage and the high level of control they achieve over the slow-motion playback on the DigiDecks,” says David Cooper, sales and marketing manager for G.D.B. International, an Australia-based distributor of solutions for multimedia and video, and FFV’s distributor for that region.
The DigiDecks also give racing stewards the ability to view an incident from a variety of synchronized camera angles and to examine what led up to it in slow motion. As the incident approaches, stewards are then able to view the footage frame by frame so that the actual incident itself can be examined in complete detail. DigiDeck playback can be controlled by using the mouse directly with Playback Technology’s Raptor control software, or, for those who prefer the feel of more traditional methods, with a jog/shuttle control via RS422.
The Fast Track Racing System can handle as few as one camera to as many as 128. However, in a practical sense, the system can easily accommodate 8 to 16 cameras.
“I chose the Fast Track System because it is a cost-effective tool that records high-quality images for the racing stewards,” says Paul Richards of Bickle Investments, a Queensland-based racing broadcaster that has used the Fast Track system to record local and national thoroughbred horse races at the Doomben and Gold Coast racecourses. “When I record an event, I need a quick, reliable tool that will provide sharp, clean images. The Fast Track System achieves this and much more. The Raptor control software is also user friendly because you can interface multiple units with ease.”
G.D.B. International has extended the scope of the Fast Track System to include a Datavideo SE800 vision mixer and a Datavideo MP6000 DVD recorder. The vision mixer enables local television crews to record a four-camera feed to the two dual DigiDecks while splitting a live SDI feed to the Sky Television horse-racing channel. With this solution, the crew can also master a backup copy of the race to Datavideo’s industrial-strength DVD recorder.
“Our customers require a cost-effective solution that also meets Sky Television’s new requirement to transmit all races using a SDI stream,” says Cooper of G.D.B. International. “The single DigiDeck solution is perfect for the regional market because up to four camera signals can be fed into a DigiDeck via a Datavideo RMC-140 Quadbox. This solution enables the racing stewards to monitor the various camera angles on one screen while the full-screen SDI feed is transmitted to Sky Television via the vision mixer.”