Combined video and data logging is now a very much accepted part of a driver’s or team’s racing setup. Several products have been on the market for the last four or five years that allow for data capture via GPS and/or vehicle sensors that integrates with video, with a view to improving driver performance.
Racelogic have succeeded in this market with the highly popular Video VBOX, used by a diverse customer base, racing in anything from basic Caterhams to professional GT3 class series. The FIA adopted the Video VBOX Pro as mandatory equipment in WTCC at the beginning of 2012.
For some drivers, simply recording video of their races has been deemed sufficient: either as a simple memento of their exploits, or as an ‘incident camera.’ HD cameras that allow for this are extremely common and do a reasonable job, but other than the fact that they don’t really teach you anything they all have one big flaw – the ‘HD Wobble.’
The current crop of high definition cameras record video by scanning from the top to the bottom of the image being taken – it’s called a ‘Rolling Shutter.’ If the camera is being held completely steady this is fine, because the pixels it captures at the top of the picture will still be in line with those at the bottom by the time the scan completes, and as each frame is recorded the resultant footage looks smooth and consistent.
But this simply does not work properly in a race car. The amount of vibration present in such an environment means that the pixels fall out of line with each other as the images are scanned, and it results in video that at best shows distortion. At worst it’s almost unwatchable. It certainly hinders the usefulness or entertainment value of the recording.
Racelogic have worked on this problem and have now launched the VBOX HD, which employs a ‘Global Shutter.’ Designed in-house, the camera records 720P HD video at 30 frames per second but crucially, it captures each pixel simultaneously. It doesn’t take time to grab pixels from the top of the frame to the bottom – each one lands at the same time, so as they’re committed to the final video their positions have remained consistent throughout.
As per the Video VBOX, all video is synched with the GPS data (speed, acceleration, track position, lap times and so on) logged at 10Hz, and it can be analysed in Racelogic’s Circuit Tools software.
One of the biggest advantages to having such clear video is that analysis for brake and turn-in points is pinpoint accurate. As any driver coach will tell you, sorting out the ‘landmarks’ on a circuit is absolutely key to a driver’s performance, and the Global Shutter footage that the VBOX HD produces makes this very straightforward. Not only does this significantly aid the driver and instructor, it makes for a video that anyone – no matter what they race – will enjoy reviewing.