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Gentlemen, start your batteries: Formula E roars to life with FAL Systems

The battery-powered racing series requires lighter, leaner broadcast facilities that use less power

The first race of the 2014 FIA Formula E Championship took place at the Beijing Olympic Green street circuit in China in September, launching a new era of eco-friendly racing in one of the world’s most polluted cities.

The battery-powered racing series, which requires lighter, leaner broadcast facilities that use less power, posed a challenge for Leeds, UK-based systems integrator FAL Systems, which was commissioned to build the system by Hayfisher Productions, with Formula E as host broadcaster, in collaboration with Aurora Media.

“The entire system is built into seven intermodal pods, each measuring approximately 3m x 3m x 2m,” says FAL technical director Andy Unsworth (pictured, left, with managing director Chris Warden) . “Four are used for technical facilities – engineering/MCR, camera control, replay and sound – and the other three for storage of equipment, with FAL providing over 100 custom designed flightcases [in total]. The production area is supplied as a flightcased flyaway system, and is built up at each venue into a dedicated cabin.”

Explaining the company’s choice of equipment, Unsworth comments: “After looking at several options, it was decided that the central hub of the system would have to be a hybrid router. Once we’d decided on the Miranda NV8280 router, that paved the way for other equipment decisions [and] Miranda was able to offer an integrated solution with its Kaleido-Modular-X units – these are controlled by the router controller and effectively become part of the router.

“Each of the main track cameras has a provision for up to four track mics per camera position. The final position and quantity of microphones for each camera will be decided by the sound team on site. The cameras only have two analogue mic inputs on each head, but it also has an AES input, so we got Chris Thorpe at CTP Systems to build us some custom mic amps – these have two high-quality mic amps with variable mic gain, pad, 48 volts and a high-pass filter and are powered from the local 12-volt DC output on the camera head with an AES output for connection to the camera.”

FAL Systems also supplied Røde trackside mics; two Yamaha CL5 desks (“one handling the race effects and the other handling the in-vision reporters, music feeds and commentary”); Focusrite RedNet boxes; Sennheiser radio mics and Lectrosonics IEMs for the pitlane reporters; Sonifex CM-CU21s, with a choice of beyerdynamic DT 290s or Coles lip mics, to handle commentary; Clear-Com Eclipse HX-PiCo matrices for talkback; Genelec 8040 monitors for main monitoring.

The inaugural Formula E season concludes with its ninth race, the London ‘ePrix’, on 27 June 2015.

Read parts one and two of our Formula 1 feature to meet the noise boys bringing the sound of Formula E’s petrol-powered cousin to the small screen!