Early 2020 saw the finals of the IFMAR 2020 1/12 World Championship staged at Milton Keynes’ Centre MK. Leading event production supplier, SFL, provided a complex, zoned audiovisual system for the event, made more challenging by the event being held in a shopping centre that remained open to the public throughout.

IFMAR 2020 Championship finalsThe IFMAR 2020 1/12 is hosted by the BRCA (British Radio Car Association), which races over 13 classes of radio-controlled model racing cars. It took place over five days in dedicated exhibition space in the main shopping area, and attracted 100,000 visitors.

SFL’s involvement with IFMAR began four years ago at its UK National Meeting, the first IFMAR event held at Centre MK. ‘I took a small van, set the gear up and then raced,’ recalls SFL’s Mark Payne, who has a passion for model car racing. ‘Sadly, other commitments mean I don’t compete anymore, but it’s still great to be involved.’

SFL supplied a distributed video and audio system. Multiple d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers were positioned around the track for bystanders, in the pits for the drivers and the rostrum for commentators and referees, along with a four-way Sennheiser RF system for handhelds mics and in-ear monitors. Two 60-inch LCD screens were provided to display information such as drives, position and timing, along with live action from the track. Three 42-inch LCD screens were placed inside the pits to give the drivers critical, more detailed information.

‘The audio system had multiple inputs which were routed several times to different areas, all of which was driven by a Yamaha QL1 desk,’ explains SFL Production Engineer, Joshua Lowe. ‘There were multiple speakers zones, with each zone requiring a completely different mix. For example, in the pits, all the drivers were getting ready for their next race, so it was important they could hear the referee microphones. However, they didn’t need to hear any of the videos that were being played, and the commentators’ audio also wasn’t a priority. But in the audience area, only the audio from the videos and the commentators was require. This meant each audio zone required careful planning, testing and fine tuning to get the right balance for everyone.’

Video distribution was handled by a Roland VR-50 multi-format A/V mixer, whose inputs were split to the race control PCs. The pits, meanwhile, had four monitors. ‘To achieve this, we used the auxiliary channel out of the VR-50, which is a separate line from the main mixing engine,’ Lowe says. ‘This allowed content to be sent to other areas without the pits losing race information. The VR-50 allowed us to seamlessly switch between the different input sources and send it to the audience.’

Michal Orlowski (2nd place) Marc Rheinard (champion) and Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa (third place)With the equipment having to be taken along a busy pavement and pushed through the fully operational, crowded shopping centre, load in and out also had to be carefully planned, with the SFL team having to be considerate and sensitive to the environment.

‘While the load-in was challenging, the system set-up was also complex, but we had to make it as user friendly as possible as we was leaving the client to operate it for the duration of the event,’ says Lowe. ‘We needed them to feel confident and be able to make changes without us having to be there. This meant extra planning in the set up the video and sound desks. Mark and I were there for two, days; one for the build and another handing the system over to the client. We made sure they were confident by explaining the system in the simplest way possible and making it as fool proof as possible.’

‘We trust Mark and SFL to get the job done,’ comments Jim Spencer, BRCA treasurer and head organiser of the event. ‘I have a thousand and one things to worry about on an event like this. We have racers from all over the world participating, a public spectator audience in a huge temporary exhibition space and we have to crown a World Champion as the end goal of four days of high pressure qualifying and racing. With the SFL team I don’t have to worry about audio and visual communications to all areas of the space.

‘A properly top-drawer job, everybody could hear what our teams were saying, yet a few meters away the staff in the shops could chat to their customers without any hindrance whatsoever. That’s down to Mark and Josh knowing the products, knowing our needs and using exactly the right kit to deliver exactly what’s needed.’

‘It was great to see what really is another world,’ concludes Lowe. ‘This is a very serious, intense community. It’s also fantastic fun. But client satisfaction is everything and is at the heart of everything we do at SFL, so the most exciting part for me was coming back at the end of the week and hearing that everything had run smoothly.’

More: www.sfl.live

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