Isle of Man cycle race still relies on DigiBeta

By Kevin Hilton

SVG Europe correspondent

The Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) races are approaching the end of their centenary year, with the last competitions taking place on Friday. Coverage of what is arguably the best known and most gruelling of European motorcycle racing tournaments is still shot on DigiBeta and edited in linear but this year’s event features solid state bike-cams with a custom designed system to transfer footage to video tape.

The different race categories are stage on a 37 -mile course that runs on roads around the Isle of Man, situated in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland, from sea level to the mountains and back again, with 200 bends to negotiate.

Isle of Man-based production company Greenlight Television shoots and edits the highlight packages, which are distributed to broadcasters around the world. Company director Richard Nichols observed that live coverage was financially prohibitive due to the size of the course.

Footage is shot in ENG style on DigiBeta and edited on Sony DigiBeta machines. Nichols explained that due to the fast turnaround non-linear editing was not viable. “We’d still be capturing material by the time of the deadline,” he said.

The bike-mounted cameras are more sophisticated as in a sport where riders spend 4000 to 5000 on titanium blots to save a kilo of weight, asking strapping a 2.5kilo camera on a machine would not go down well. The bike-cams, a mixture of makes, including Toshiba, are now the size of an iPod, with a small battery.

Greenlight’s engineer, Gary Aldridge, designed a box based on a GPI system to transfer material from solid state media to tape. Nichols said the picture quality from these was “still not brilliant” but they add to the immediacy and viewers accept the footage in the same way they do news reports over satellite phone.

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