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It is 50 years since Doune Hillclimb was created by the Lothian Car Club. They will be celebrating that milestone at their event on June 23rd/24th.
Along with a visit by the British Hillclimb Championship, the event will also see a selection of historic vehicles making a convoy run up the hill along with the possibility of many more on static display.
It should be a great event to attend, “June Doune” is normally a highlight anyway, but we can now announce you should be able to enjoy some of the event even if you can’t make it to the site.
The event will be live streamed and made available at HillClimb.TV.
To be clear this won’t be a full-on TV production like Goodwood Festival of Speed. Streaming of commentary is the main priority and any video side is still being finalised. Having said that, we are working to add as much as possible considering the time and budget restrictions (video is hard & expensive).
As well as on the HillClimb.TV website the stream will also be available on YouTube, making it playable on any TVs, phones, etc that can play YouTube content.
We hope those of you heading to Doune have a great event and this addition makes it a little better for those not travelling to the venue.
How did HillClimb.UK/TV get involved?
Here we will discuss how this has come about, what we are working on and a little more of what to expect – hopefully*.
Three weeks ago we were contacted to see if it would be possible to live stream the commentary from the venue. In case you are wondering why we were asked, we have done various experiments with live streaming in the past including a weekend from Loton Park in 2015 and various Facebook live steams of runoffs and paddock walks. We had started looking in to streaming back before then because we thought being able to listen to commentary would be a great addition to those watching online results away from venues.
Once we had checked the streaming should* be feasible from Doune we decided to give it a go. We’ve worked out the features we would like to add and a rough order to work on them.
Commentary is obviously number one priority. That hasn’t been too difficult as the guy that does PA at Doune has been very helpful and has the hill wired so we can access audio at the top or bottom and also set up our internet connection at either end. We also have some kit we purchased when we streamed from Loton. Doune doesn’t have a wired internet connection so we will be relying on mobile signal, though coverage checks on a couple of networks look promising.
With the main audio out-of-the-way we then started to look at something to go on-screen. YouTube doesn’t allow audio only streams but we think it is better to stream to a well known, well supported platform than some less well-known audio only system. As we said before live video is difficult, it needs lots of kit & time, so we first looked at creating some onscreen graphics using data from ResultsMan. We already had some experience processing data off ResultsMan to display class tables on a web page so we’ve re-purposed that code for showing them on a video feed. This will allow us to show a class table when it is being talked about or between batches, etc.
Following the British Championship weekend at Shelsley we then decided to totally ignore the fact we had told a few people we didn’t want to end up putting too much effort into it when something like a poor connection could let it down and instead committed all our time into getting the stream as good as possible in the time we had. Who needs sleep!
We think that showing running clocks, splits etc on the screen would be both interesting & useful and the plan had been to screen capture the timing software. Now we switched to try to make them as separate graphics that would work alongside the class tables. Back in 2016 we had worked on some graphics for runoffs and used them at Shelsley & Gurston. Though these were recorded videos, the graphics were created from the start with a plan for them to be able to be used live. For the last week or so we have worked on how we can get live data directly out of the timing system and modifying (totally we rewriting) the graphics system so as they can react to live events. We are very grateful to MMTS (timekeepers) for working with us to get access to their system. We think we have that working, though it needs some more testing.
So currently ready for the stream we have commentary audio and graphics comprising class tables, overall tables, counting clocks (separate formats for runoffs and normal runs) & runoff results.
Graphics that we would still like to add are runoff qualifiers, the ability to show custom messages and status messages like batch return, flag, etc.
Video is the big part that is missing. We will probably end up with one camera showing the cars away from the start line. Though not the most exciting of shots it is a place where we can place a camera and easily get the signal back into the system. There are ways of getting cameras at the top of the hill or in the paddock but the costs are high for what might only be a one off stream. We will see how carried away we get!
So don’t expect too much and hopefully this will be a way for you to enjoy part of a Doune weekend. It will very much be a baseline that could be built on in the future if there is enough interest and support.
* You might have noticed we have hedged quite a few of our statements. While we are hoping for the best and trying to plan for the worst, there are still could be issues that mean we are unable to stream. For example, being unable to get a good enough internet connection even though we have access ready for multiple networks. There is a limit to how much redundancy we can have in place for a project we are funding ourselves.