Television camera following Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

F1 cancels 2020 deals with camera staff – but that doesn’t mean the season is off

2020 F1 season

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RaceFans has learned Formula 1 has cancelled its contracts with camera operators for the 2020 season.

However the development is not a sign the championship has given up hope of holding any races this year.

Formula 1’s contracts with its camera operators are understood to involved specific details of who would be required for which races, and when the events would take place. But with nine of the first 22 rounds already postponed or cancelled, their plans already face significant disruption.

Further changes to the calendar are expected. Formula 1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn said earlier this week they hope to hold as many as 19 races, which will involve confirming new dates for several races and potentially moving other rounds.

Formula 1 is also exploring the possibility of holding races behind closed doors. This would involve reducing its staffing levels to a minimum level, which could mean cutting back on the number of cameras used at each race.

With the calendar in a state of flux, the cancellation of the camera crews’ contracts is expected to be a temporary measure until the new scheduled is confirmed, at which point the necessary staff will be rehired.

F1 has already put around half its staff on furlough and reduced the salaries of its senior staff.

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2020 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 10 comments on “F1 cancels 2020 deals with camera staff – but that doesn’t mean the season is off”

    1. I don’t know if it’s changed since but they used to ask everyone they planned to use before the season which races they would prefer to cover & if there was any weekends that anybody needed to take off & then work out who would do what from there. Once they know what they are going to be able to do in terms of a 2020 season they will contact everyone & go through that process again to figure out who will be able to cover what.

      A lot of the camera operators work freelance rather than been a permanent employee of F1 & they will therefore have other gigs they will do around the F1 season.

      It’s been the same since the FOM broadcast crew was put together in 1996 for the F1 Digital+ production. There is a core group of F1 full time signed employee’s working in the truck & on the tech side backed up by a crew of freelancers, Many of whom have been called on for 20+ years at this point as the long time guys who have proven good/reliable will naturally get first call before any new people are brought in.

      1. @gt-racer – very interesting info, thank you.

    2. Why would there have to be fewer cameras on trackside should a race-event take place without anyone on the grandstands, though?

      1. @jerejj haven’t you noticed that in recent times, it’s customary for them to show the grandstands every time something interesting happened during the race?. I bet they even had more cameras pointing to people than to the racetrack.

        Joking aside, they did show celebrities and fans during the weekend… maybe not by much, but the people needed would be less if there was no one else other than the competitors.

      2. @jerejj – the first time that came to mind was the same joke that @fer-no65 made (dang, you beat me to it!), but I’d also think that under normal circumstances, they’d have more staff available for contingency reasons, and more camera positions to give a higher amount of coverage of the circuit itself (notwithstanding those deployed in the pitlane, paddock and oriented to the crowds).

        If they’re planning to run behind closed doors, and wish to minimize number of personnel deployed, they might also decide that specific camera angles are redundant or do not contribute significant value, and might aim to scale back on it.

        I hope the reason for fewer cameras is what @fer-no65 mentioned, and if they are doing it for the reason I mentioned, I hope it is very carefully thought through, because for a race that is already running without a crowd providing atmosphere, if it turns out one of the cameras removed prevented us getting a closer view of some incident, it would be very unfortunate. Onboard cams do provide coverage of all cars, but they don’t provide all the context, especially with car-to-car and car-to-track positioning, so that wouldn’t be a guaranteed substitute.

        1. Sorry, @phylyp. F1 will deploy not just fewer, but zero cameras for the 2020 season.

          The Codmaster game platform uses virtual cameras. And that’s all we’re going to see this year.

    3. I know this isn’t the right time to say this but fom could get better camera operators. Watching pre-season testing there often there were only 2 shots that did not crop up most of the cars, on hot laps every camera went into overdrive, shaking and zooming in.

      1. @peartree That isn’t a choice of the camera operators it’s an editorial decision that comes from the director at the instruction of Liberty. Remember that not long ago there were lots of complaints about the trackside cameras making the cars look slow, Easy to drive & less exciting to watch. This shift in philosophy is a way to attempt to fix that.

        Wider, More static stable tend to reduce the feeling of speed & also make things seem more sterile. The belief is that going for narrow shots & trying to track the cars in a certain way will create a better sensation of the speed & make the cars feel more alive. It’s a philosophy we used in certain scenario’s on the F1 Digital+ production.

        I guess an example would be to compare this lap from 2002 from the F1 Digital+ production to a lap from the local host broadcaster who takes the opposite approach (Wider shots that are more steady).

        The camera placement/work on the F1 Digital highlights the speed & ferocity of driving around Monaco & helps makes it feel more alive & exciting while the local host produced lap saps a lot of that way so it ends up feeling slower & easier.

        1. @gt-racer then fire all the editors. I can’t conceive how failing to see the car in-shot moving relative to a fairly static background isn’t the only way to show speed. Even the Monaco director knew that, that 03 lap is great, they weren’t afraid to zoom out and show just how much ground an f1 car can make. the 02 lap has some interesting novel angles but mostly it feels like an action movie choppy and when it isn’t choppy I can only see MissionWinNow all over the car. Back in the day it was far easier to depict who was quick who was not, now in Q3 I can only see the sidepod intake for the whole lap. If they want to trick viewers do it on high fuel. Thanks for the links.

    4. A sad but pragmatic decision. Most likely, the compressed schedule for events the world over would have given a lot of these camera operators clashes of commitments. This would have rendered the contracts unworkable even if financial considerations were not an issue.

      I assume most, if not all, of the operators will be re-hired as and when racing resumes.

    Comments are closed.