The Circuit Paul Ricard is a legendary venue in French motorsport history, but despite dating back to the 1970s, the venue is now getting a 21st century upgrade, with the CRT screens ditched in favour of a complete Sony overhaul.

In order to remain at the forefront of the technological evolution – and to modernise its innovative facilities that have made it one of the safest motor racing circuits in the world – the circuit’s owners needed to update its ageing video monitoring systems.

Bulky, inefficient CRT screens over a decade old were becoming increasingly unreliable. Video surveillance also needed an update from the venue’s existing network of analogue CCTV cameras.

Outdoor motorsport presents a tough environment, with cars speeding through scorching on-track temperatures that can rise as high as 50° as well as rainy, snowy and windy conditions. Racing at night presents an extra challenge: it’s hard to get detailed pictures in near-darkness with added glare from the cars’ headlights.

With a total length of 5.8km, the versatile track can be configured in over 160 different race set-ups that must be monitored in every possible situation. Indoors, analogue video monitoring screens consume a lot of power and generate significant heat, especially when they’re used 24 hours a day for some events.

By upgrading its facilities, the circuit also looked to compete with other world-class race tracks around the world – maximising its reputation as premier destination for entertainment and excitement for motorsport fans of all ages.

Circuit Paul Ricard has updated its entire video infrastructure with the help of Sony, plus networked communications specialist SOGETREL and software vendor SeeTec.

Centrepiece in the main Control Room is a large video wall, consisting of nine Sony 60in BRAVIA Full HD Professional Displays. The wall is supplemented by further Sony monitors in portrait mode displaying images from cameras around the circuit, plus a dedicated screen displaying race timing information. In addition, a VPL-FHZ55 3LCD laser light source projector displays crisp images of the race leader, while a second VPL-FHZ55 assists safety and efficient race management by providing an overall situational view of the circuit captured by on-track cameras.

Race fans can enjoy the day’s events in comfort, watching real-time race footage plus videos and other information on over 100 interconnected BRAVIA Professional Displays around the venue.

Twelve VIP boxes are equipped with 48in BRAVIA displays. They’re supplemented by a further 75 32in Full HD displays in the main stands and eighteen 40in Full HD displays in the Press room. Sony solutions also feature in the main reception area, with three 6in BRAVIA 4K Professional Displays offering 4K image quality of the Circuit Paul Ricard, together with touch-enabled BRAVIA professional display solutions to guide visitors around the installations. Kids and adults can even play automotive games on Sony PlayStation 4 to enhance the true fan experience.

The nearby ‘Grand Prix Burger’ restaurant is also kitted out with eight Sony displays in 48in and 65in sizes that show menu prices and sporting action.

Five SNC-EM632R outdoor IR ruggedised 1080p/30fps cameras keep a watchful eye around the venue. Out on the circuit itself, 40 SNC-WR632 Full HD PTZ network cameras capture every split-second move of the speeding race vehicles at a crisp, detail-packed 60fps (frames per second).

HD streams are transmitted over IP to feed the live BRAVIA video wall in the Control Room. A separate analogue video output is distributed simultaneously to BRAVIA displays around the venue, which allow a ‘double safety’ of recording.

In the Control Room, streams from the track-side PTZ cameras provide a crisp, detail-packed High Definition view with virtually no latency. It’s easy to identify each car clearly, even in dark weather conditions or when races sometimes happen at night.

Offering up to 20,000 hours operation without replacement, the laser light source in the VPL-FHZ55 cuts maintenance overheads for busy technical support staff. What’s more, the laser projector’s near-instant start-up means that no time’s wasted waiting for lamps to warm up at the start of a session.

As Circuit Paul Ricard’s long-term technology partner, Sony was selected to provide a complete, integrated network AV solution in conjunction with system integrator SOGETREL and video management software specialist SeeTec.

The circuit’s owners wanted to future-proof its appeal as a world-class venue, with the very best solution incorporating the latest AV innovations including laser and 4K display technologies. Sony was able to provide this, offering a total solution spanning cameras, screens and projectors. In addition, the management team valued Sony’s responsiveness as a partner in delivering products on time and also answering technical questions.

Sony cameras were also selected for capturing fast-paced racing action in a variety of lighting and weather conditions and in a wide range of different track configurations.

The PTZ cameras’ powerful optical zoom offers close-up detail, making it easier to spot whether distant trails on the track are hazardous oil or just water. It’s also been used to help locate the cars tiny transponders that sometimes get lost on the circuit. And thanks to the cameras’ on-board image stabiliser, pictures are crisp and vibration-free, even in windy conditions.

Choosing energy-efficient BRAVIA Professional Displays has dramatically reduced electrical power consumption. The customer also praised the displays’ ease of installation, excellent picture quality and the wide range of different screen sizes offered by BRAVIA.

“Now we’re getting pictures from night-time races with a quality that’s close to daylight conditions. We can really follow the cars and react quickly if something happens. Video from the cameras can be displayed on the video wall of Sony screens and video projectors, and we can also share this externally with our customers,” notes Thierry Dostes, IT systems manager, Circuit Paul Ricard.

“What we really appreciated – above the quality and compatibility of Sony’s products – is the responsiveness of the team, who’ve always been on hand to answer our questions.”

Kit List:

In the control room:

  • 2 x Sony VPL-FHZ55 3LCD laser projectors
  • 9x Sony BRAVIA Professional Displays FWD-60W600P (60in)
  • 3x Sony BRAVIA screens (48in)

In the car stands:

  • 75x Sony BRAVIA Professional Displays FWL-32W705C/T (32in)

In the VIP boxes:

  • 12 x Sony BRAVIA Professional Displays FWL-48W705C (48in)

Around the circuit:

  • 40x SNC-WR632 rapid dome network cameras

Within the installations:

  • 5x SNC-EM632R Outdoor IR Ruggedized 1080p/30 fps cameras

At the main entrance:

  • 3x Sony BRAVIA 4K Professional Displays FWD-65X8600P (65in)

In the Grand Prix Burger restaurant:

  • 6 x Sony BRAVIA Professional Displays FWL-48W705C/T (48in)
  • 2 x Sony BRAVIA Professional Displays FW-65X8570C (65in)

In the Panoramic restaurants:

  • 6x Sony BRAVIA Professional Displays FWL-48W705C (48in)

In the Press room:

  • 18x Sony BRAVIA Professional Displays FWL-40W705C/T (40in)
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