By Vijaya Cherian
UAE race drivers, Mark Powell and Tim Ansell from the UAE Desert Challenge put a HDV camera on their dashboard and gave fans a feel of what it’s like to be in the hot seat by screening the recorded footage at night on a giant screen in Liwa. Digital Studio reports.
I|~|teambig.jpg|~|Team Saluki in the UAE Desert Challenge.|~|This time, the UAE Desert Challenge, the only international off-road motor sport event in the Middle East, had one special feature. Local rivals, Mark Powell and Tim Ansell of Team Saluki installed a Sony HV-A1E HDV camera in their car to catch all the excitement from the race and had the footage screened for fans at a campsite in Liwa in the evening. Although the in-car footage was taken purely for fun, it was taken by a Czech channel along with their own footage of the event, and is scheduled for broadcast on ESPN, Sky Sports and other well-known sports channels. Also, at the end of the day, the team set up what they called a Saluki Cinema, where the footage was screened on a big 4 ft x 8 ft plasma screen to fans at the race bivouac in Liwa, UAE.
The event, which was held from November 9-14, saw 65 bikes, three trucks and 39 cars race through the dunes. Although the Czech channel caught all the outside action, the real feel of the race came from the in-car footage, captured by Team Saluki. “The in-car footage was extremely valuable because the channels are always on the outside. This is the first time we managed to get something from the inside. The intention was to use the camera to record what it was like to sit inside the vehicle when we traversing the largest sand dunes in the UAE at race speeds, whilst we competed in the largest off-road motorsport event this region sees,” says Powell.
As the length of the HD-TV tape is just 63 minutes and stages take as long as five hours, the team operated the cameras by remote control to ensure that they got the most exciting action on tape. “We first bought ourselves a five-hour battery to make sure the camera could stay switched on throughout a stage,” says Powell. “We then velcroed the remote control to the dashboard so that whenever we wanted to start the camera, we’d just have to push the record button. We had to make this part easy because we were strapped in and had to do the recording as effortlessly as possible and the footage was absolutely fantastic,” explains Powell.
The camera was mounted just behind the pair’s heads from a cross beam on the roll-cage to ensure that viewers would have a good view of the dashboard, the windscreen and the view ahead. The team also made good use of the camera’s capability to automatically take a still photograph every minute or every five minutes, even when filming. “With sufficient memory installed, we hoped to capture some memorable photos of the view from the cock-pit of the Saluki racer,” says Powell.
Last year, when the team mounted a usual consumer camera on the dash of the Saluki and played it back to the campsite in the evening, it was such a hit. “So, this year, when we played back the footage from the Sony HDV, it was a bigger hit because this was broadcast-quality footage. The camera is really fantastic and quite compact. We thank Sony for loaning us this equipment,” adds Powell.
At the campsite in Liwa, fans were enthralled by what they saw. “This is a great campsite attraction with large crowds visiting the Team Saluki camp and watching the footage. It allows the majority of people their first glimpse of what it’s like to race through the dunes through the eyes of the Saluki and this includes the majority of the support crews,” adds Powell.
In-car footage of this year’s race can be viewed at the team’s web site, www.teamsaluki.com.