Question Camcorder Arena Filming


Novice Member
I want to have a number of camcorders placed around a racing circuit that will lead to a video switcher and in turn will output to a number of TV's. Would using camcorders be a good low budget option? Does video quality deteriorate depending on cable length from camera to switcher?

I am open to suggestions.


Member 55145

Distinguished Member
Bit scant on the details!

What equipment do you already have?
Is this for broadcast or local live viewing?
Are you using analogue or digital?
How big is the racing circuit?
Are your camera's going to be manned?
Fixed position?


Prominent Member


Novice Member
Thanks for the replies.

Sorry for the lack of detail. I want to output the images to a bank of tvs around the arena. Race arena is roughly the size of an olympic pool


The images taken by the video cameras will go to a pc switcher (to be built) to be outputted on to several tv screens. Cameras will be positioned around the edge and in the middle of the arena.

Just looking for suitable cameras be them new or second hand. I wanted to know if the image quality would deteriorate the longer the cable length. Otherwise I may have to go down the wireless route with GoPros. Would that be another option?


Distinguished Member
Outputting live means that GoPro is out, as the latency is quite high. The distances are also right on the limit of wifi in any case.

Best bet would be CCTV cameras with digital video outputs - SDI, linked to an SDI switcher. HDMI would be better and would allow you to use domestic camcorders, but more costly in terms of switching - see below, and cable lengths are limited to 30 - 50M unless you use fibre or Cat6 distribution

To avoid roll and in the case of Digital SDI or HDMI, blank screen on switching, you will need a synchronous switcher, which re-clocks the signals so that they are all frame accurate. This usually means a video mixer - or switcher with built in TBCs. Alternatively, you sync the cameras with a 2nd cable running from a SPG to each camera and use a Vertical Interval switcher or matrix. This is now quite old tech, but was the broadcast way until about 10 years ago when everything went digital.

Analogue video is good for 100M - 1000M depending on cable, while SDI will do a similar distance. Joins and poor quality cable make the biggest difference to the signal. Impedance is very important and connections must be made correctly using the correct impedance connectors.

So, you will need cameras, high quality cable, possibly line isolators in case of mains earth loops, a switcher or mixer and then distribution back out to the TVs.

For composite video resolution, Panasonic MX50 video mixers are now reasonably cheap, but Roland V-Series are very good as well. Their latest models take composite and HDMI, so you have an upgrade path. Don't forget some preview monitors so you can see the feeds. Quad splitters allow 4 signals to be displayed on 1 screen - often a simple VGA PC monitor.

SDI equipment is now quite cheap, as it has come out of broadcast installations and is now commercially worthless. A mixer with built in TBCs - Snell and Wilcox Magic DaVE can be picked up for £200 or so. The CCTV cameras are a few hundred each, plus a suitable lens for each. Use PTV and a pan and tilt head and you can have joystick control of each camera as well :)


Distinguished Member
I suspect OP is going to have to tell us the Budget, he had in mind.
+ I can see this being very expensive, even using CCTV - which is pretty poor resolution, and then the TV's he's planning to use will not come cheap.
Far better IMHO to go to professionals who can advise. Perhaps a system which can be expanded as funds allow.

These days folks are used to high-def TV programs, so whilst low-res might be useful for "monitoring" it's unlikely to satisfy folks that have paid to watch a race . . .

GoPro cameras are very good for wearing on a helmet for cycling/skiing/extreme sport - but their wide-angle lens means that you get a lot of sky and grass in the shots - that's good for shots that the audience cannot expect - but pretty useless for following a race round a track.
Noiseboy72 has suggested Pan/Tilt and yr choice of lens will probably be remote-controlled Zoom, - but these will need an operator that knows their job - and the sport as well. They are unlikely to come cheap, either.
++Good Luck . . .




Novice Member
Thanks for all the replies.

We had limited success at a recent event using wireless senders and diversity receivers. Using Analog cables direct to a DVR and to 50" TVs . There was a lot of noise on the screens due to the amount of metal work at the venue. Would it be possible to use ip cams and use switcher software? I used to mess about with switcher studio that would link up to 4 iPhones/iPads that were on the same network. Is there anything similar?

Btw I can handle some latency


Distinguished Member
A track the size of a pool, necessity to enlarge the participants for the audience. Are we involved in model car racing of some kind? Or am I on the wrong track entirely?


Distinguished Member
100M of cable should be pretty much noise free.

IP cameras would work, but I would want wired not wireless really. You can also get digital composite video senders that work very well and are very stable of 30M or so.

Have a look at stream casting software. This is designed for this sort of thing.


Novice Member
@nvingo you are not far off the mark. Drone racing. This was filmed at the start of December at the first major expo for drones in the UK

So the goal would be to film and stream to 50" tv's around the arena the drones as they went past the cameras hence the need for a switcher. The onboard camera footage in the clip was fimed with a GoPro, so you wouldnt get the same image quality being beamed from the drone because of the extra weight of the Gopro. One day there will be a HD downlink that will be in financial reach.


Distinguished Member
Blimey! Just got back in from flying my P2 while I print out a racing drone on my 3D printer, so right up my street :)

I think the latency on any IP based system would just be too long. You are talking about racers doing 20-40 mph and being very close to the cameras. The image compression used on IP cameras tends to favour quality over motion, so fast moving objects can become hard to discern clearly. Trying to catch the drones flying by might be quite tricky and I am not sure how entertaining the shots would be, especially a couple of seconds after the event.

I would suggest you would still be better off with either some good CCTV cameras or domestic camcorders linked back via either composite video or via HDMI on Cat 6 converters. Wiring might take longer in the first place, but the end result will be much more consistent. Use a purpose built vision mixer / switcher rather than a PC will also introduce less latency and would also be easier to operate.

Feeding the TVs could be via HDMI or even just composite or component video. The quality will be fine for this application. We often daisy chain TVs using 1:2 splitters, so the signal arrives at the first TV, is split and then sent on to the next TV etc. 20M between TVs is easy to achieve at full HD like this.


Novice Member
My initial thought was for domestic camcorders with composite cables. My problem is I over complicate things. We used 10 meter shielded RCA cables from the diversity receiver to the tv's which worked well until one of the pilots crashed then it is just dead tv until the next race. At least with a track feed, even if one pilot crashed, we can still watch the others fly.

So, basically, as long as the camcorder has composites, we can use domestic camcorders with RCA cables? How much would a vision mixer be that would do the job?


Distinguished Member
Trying to film drones so the audience can see them - Wow! that means very tight framing - unlike the other way round with a GoPro on the drone and the World isn't moving.
Do we have anything like a Budget?
As to CCTV quality - certainly there are now very up-market expensive pods used in reality TV shows, but most CCTV is still very poor because it is intended to monitor a semi-static scene. In this set-up each needs an operators in the scenario as I'm now reading it.... due to the speed of the drones.

It might be possible to fit a light to the drone ( eg narrowband red, or IR ) so the cameras can track them - that might allow the pan/tilt to be self-acting - then the Director controls the zoom perhaps. However, this would need a separate "Development" budget, although it should result in much tighter shots, which will "Wow" the audience.
The low-tech alternative is to make the Route "stage points" where the cameras are . . . so each drone shows off its abilities in front of a more-or-less fixed camera. The framing difficulty is given to the Drone Operators as they can watch their drone on the arena TV monitors.

Without that change I can't help feeling it will be better to employ Pros that do "filming events" sort of thing - and will bring in the necessary kit . . . and which they pay for mistakes and up-dates.

Good luck.


Novice Member
I did think about the latter option of stage points, but the idea of tracking drones with light source would be really cool but out of my league for now. We just need a way to bring the entertainment to the big screen. As you can see from the YouTube clip, we had some TV's up on the screen that were receiving a signal from the diversity receivers we had. Because of the metal work, it was a bit pictue noisey. I want to try and get a clearer picture, but at the moment HD downlinks are very expensive and would be too big for 250 racers anyway. Having cameras on a switcher would be good but would require a fast hand lol

LED lights can be fitted to drones as can be seen in this video


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