The OB-truck – Flood of information in confined spaces
It somewhat looks as if Alexei Paschitnow was involved in the design of the OB-truck’s interior equipment. Even the programmer of the computer game Tetris hadn’t been able to arrange the work stations in the truck of Wige Media AG, the DTM media service provider, more space-saving. Not a single centimetre has been wasted, the footage editing area alone offers room for seven work stations on 11 square metres. And more of a third of this space is occupied by the large mixer including the numerous monitors placed at the front end of the truck interior. Footage editing A controls everything. From here, the footage of a race is distributed to every part of the world. The members of the team around Director Thomas Strobl are well attuned to one another and are working with maximum concentration. The tension can be felt at any time. “If you make a mistake this doesn’t mean the end of the world,” reveals Strobl, “But the spectators will realise it right away.”
Depending on the circuit, the editing team can hark back to up to 40 cameras. Some of them, such as the ones at the home straight – are stationary while others can be moved – partially by dint of long crane arms – to virtually every desired position, thus making for extraordinary perspectives. The most mobile cameras, however, are the hand cameras that are used – inter alia – on the starting grid and in the pit lane. Each of these cameras has got a certain number that also is found on a respective button of the editing mixer. Thanks to its many years of experience, the team knows exactly where each of the cameras is positioned. And if this shouldn’t be the case, the circuit map with the camera positions will help. Should the eyes of the editing team miss something, nevertheless, there still are the cameramen and camerawomen on site. They all are permanently connected to the editing team per radio and will get orders by it while they also can hint to special incidents in the section they are responsible for.
For inexperienced eyes, getting an overview of the cramped editing compartment is virtually impossible. The biggest of the numerous OB-truck monitors shows the picture the TV audience at home also gets to see. All the others serve as orientation help – they mainly show the pictures of the other cameras. But among them there also is a monitor graphically displaying the entire circuit plus the positions of all the cars contesting the race. Strobl: “If we want to show – for instance – two drivers battling it out for a position, this monitor informs us on the current position of the drivers involved. Then we synchronize the position with our camera scheme and are able to follow the rivals all around the circuit by just switching from camera to camera.”
Due to the big numbers on them, even a layman will be able to identify the mixer buttons necessary to do so. But they represent just a small part of the blinking lights as well as push buttons and rocker switches. And they all are used during the course of a DTM weekend. One of them is the slow-motion button that is used rather often during a DTM coverage. Strobl: “Fortunately, we have got an extra editing team for that. They pre-sect the slow-mos to then provide us with them via a stream.”
Generally, the editing team works by feel but it goes without saying that they don’t do so without keeping an eye on the current situation – for instance in the championship. “Depending on the situation we have to quickly analyse what exactly has happened,” reveals Strobl. “Then we have to find the cameras and perspectives enabling us to show the audience the pictures that explain what is going on.” The editing team works like a big control centre. It makes the final decisions regarding the picture the TV audience will get to see. But to be able to do so, it is dependent on a far bigger team – from the race caller to the cameramen. They all provide information and have to be coordinated at the same time. Strobl: “Therefore, your tension is the highest by far before the start into a race. That is the point in time when you only can hope that everything will work flawlessly – both technically and staff-wise.