I like Holland - I like the Dutch and their capacity for straightforwardness and fun is legendary, so when a new distributor in the Netherlands contacted us, it didn’t take too much thought to open negotiations.
Embedded Fitness Netherlands had been asked by the production company responsible for the country’s F1 coverage to find them a CardioWall Pro-X for their studio-based show. The show has a new format this year with more audience participation and is based around a comfy sofa with a (huge and well stocked) bar, TV screens and expert analysis of the races.
For each Grand Prix they have different guests and a studio audience clustered around the sofa as they discuss the race and for this season they wanted to get a small flavour of both the driver’s experience and preparation. So in the studio is both a car simulator complete with race driver seat and huge TV and a CardioWall Pro-X. Each guest has to perform on both devices and then gets a ‘Top Gear’ like score on a leaderboard.
Whilst chatting with the presenter of the show, Rob Kamphues, he told me that during some driver instruction training at Silverstone he had used the iZone’s Pro-X in their facility and loved it.
They had then tasked Embedded Fitness with finding and buying one. Simple!
So having shipped the Pro-X out there I flew out (Fowey - Exeter - Schipol - train - Studio - train - Schipol - Bristol - taxi - Exeter - Fowey….) to oversee the rehearsal, meet Jochem our Embedded Fitness contact and instruct the TV people how to use things. Schipol is a huge sprawling place but finding a train was simplicity itself and within the hour I was walking into the studio complex in Hilversum - all the Dutch TV studios in one place, with a train station outside - perfect.
The set was very well presented, nicely lit and with the Pro-X suitably positioned in shot to the right of the presenter’s sofa. After a bit of a chat I re-attached couple of pods removed for transit and switched on. First snag was the studio director wanted direct sound out so they could control the sounds they wanted rather than rely on the built in speaker.
If we had known, we could have prepared a facility to do this but it hadn’t been flagged so I spent an “interesting” 30 minutes with studio tech people watching me hack into a cable (from the studio) and patch it into their system. Switch on again and… sorted. Sounds now coming out of the studio’s monitors instead of the Pro-X.
Then into the rehearsals as Rob and his crew went through their show format including when to use the CardioWall and the race simulator and that was that.
First show was broadcast 20th March and from all accounts went very well - helped by a mega drive by the current Dutch hotshoe driver Max Verstappen during the race.
We look forward to seeing how the show uses the Pro-X during the year (and also how much they score) and working more closely with Carla, Jochem and the rest at Embedded Fitness.
I managed to capture a few shots of the studio and a quick screen shot of the show itself - here’s to a bright TV future for the Pro-X!