Stage end cameras, possible or not?
Alright, so the ideas of live onboard feeds are more or less too ambitious because of the technical challenges involved, especially if we are thinking whole events and every stage. On a more limited scale I do think such feeds would be possible, on some stages and maybe selected few events. Which then makes everything seem a bit silly, because we want all events and all stages to be equally important, promoted and presented, right? Well, maybe not. This also raises another question, which I won’t discuss now, the differences between WRC events. Should FIA and promoters do more to make events even more uniform or should WRC cherish its diversity and treat each event with more respect to individual characters and tradition? But that’s for another post to discuss.
I wanted to ask here for another lesson in how possible or impossible it would be to set up something resembling a live video feed from the end of each special stage. We’re no longer talking about “moving targets”, the camera is no longer in car and prone to signal loss issues due to movement and terrain. Instead I am talking about the way to see what’s going on at the end of each special stage. We can hear what’s going on perfectly, with WRC Live crews doing a splendid job of covering almost all stages in great detail thanks to the creative forces of stage end reporters such as Colin Clark and George Donaldson. But what if we were able to see as well as hear? To see the damage on the cars, the emotion on drivers’ faces… it would not be much, but it would be heaps more than nothing!
Comparing live stage end cameras with live onboards or stage coverage may sound silly, and for a good reason, but even if it’s only a stage end and it would show none of the action (unless we see more of Loeb-pushing’n’shoving-Hirvonen antics once again), it would still give us an opportunity to experience all the excitement and the emotions in a more elaborate manner. These stage end cameras could be used to pick video signal only and then combined with audio feed from WRC live radio broadcast. To avoid making things too complicated, this camera may even be spared from entering the always exciting elbow-wielding battlefield of trying to get into cockpits of the cars before other reporters do. Heck, it can even be a silly webcam, positioned in such a way that it covers the car and maybe the driver or part of the cockpit (as in, mounted higher than the average person).
To think people get so excited just by watching the live streams showing service parks, even if there is little to no actual action in the “pits”, must mean they are curious about everything rally. We want to see more than we’re seeing now, and we want to see and experience everything WRC has to offer. Stage ends are part of that experience, and if you have never been to one of those, do yourself a favour and do it next time you’re out spectating. The smell of engine oil, brakes and tyres mixes wonderfully with the heat and the often bewildered looks on crew’s faces. It’s when you realize that driving a rally car is work as well as fun.
This is all nice and sweet, but can it be done? Are there any hidden (to me, of course) technical obstacles? Is it even remotely interesting to others as it is to me? I have no idea, but I hope to hear some replies and opinions on the subject.