Scott Jones's blog
One of the things that has often struck me as I move around the track at a MotoGP round is the amount of cable Dorna sets up to deliver their TV coverage. Many kilometres of cables run around the entire circuit, are spliced into a complex network of amplifiers, antennas, and cameras, and eventually lead back to Dorna’s TV center in the paddock. In Qatar I was chatting with Pol Bardolet, one of the Dorna staff who is part of the TV and video production department, and he kindly arranged for me to speak with Sergi Sendra, Director of Dorna Sports TV Production. In Austin we sat down for a few minutes on Friday so that I could ask him about how he and his team deliver TV coverage of 18 rounds of Grand Prix racing.
MotoMatters: Most if not all of our readers regularly watch MotoGP on television, but I don’t think many of them have any idea how complicated it is for you to set that up for each race then get it packed up and on to the next event. So, to start off can you tell me a little bit about how you do it?
I first met Paolo Castelli and Giuseppe Triossi of Clinical Mobile on a flight from Frankfurt to Doha in 2010. Having identified each other as heading for the MotoGP race, we got to chatting, half in English and half in Italian, about the coming season. The two had just treated Marco Simoncelli for his crash during testing just before the season opener. Since then I have made a point of stopping by the CM when possible to say hello, and for some time have wanted to interview them about their work. At Valencia I spoke to Paolo on the morning of the Moto2 test when things were quiet in the CM facility.
MotoMatters: Can you please describe your role at Clinica Mobile and what kind of things you do on a daily basis?
For years Phillip Island has been a track I'd planned to go to, but for one reason or another, it was a trip I'd not been able to make happen. I was ticking off other top locations such as Catalunya, Mugello, Assen, places that were Bucket List items for me both as a race fan and a photographer. But PI wouldn't cooperate.
As soon as Casey issued his surprise announcement that he was retiring, I knew I had to make it to Phillip Island. This time there could be no excuse: I had to see Casey ride at his home track, and this was my last chance. Fortunately for me, there was still some money in the bank from the Elbow Down edition to pay for airfare and expenses. And my wife, whose patience and kindness seem to know no bounds, agreed to manage the childcare without my help yet again this season. I booked the trip and held my breath.
At the 2012 Misano round, Scott caught up with Milena Koerner, Communication and Press Officer at Tech 3 Yamaha. We spoke over lunch in the team's hospitality, and as if to illustrate exactly how vital Milena is to this team's efforts, members of the Tech 3 staff stopped by to ask her questions every few minutes. They promptly received answers, or Milena got up to solve the problem quickly herself before returning to our interview. Milena does the work of several people, as you'll see when reading about her past experience and her current role at Tech 3.
Scott Jones: Please describe you role at Tech 3. Obviously you do more than get one rider to his media debriefs.
One of the great things about working with David at MotoMatters is that doing so gets me to some amazing places, now and then in position to grab an image that really means a lot to me. From time to time, one of those images resonates with others as well.
Last year at Catalunya I happened to get Casey Stoner dragging his elbow around Turn 5, and as soon as that shot appeared on this website it began an amazing journey. It's the only work of mine that has approached something that might be called 'viral' in how it spread around the world.
Before long I was hearing from new Twitter, Facebook and other fans, but also from Alpinestars, HRC and Repsol Honda, Bridgestone, and even from Casey himself, who asked for a copy of the image. His mechanics put the photo on their laptops as desktop wallpaper, and some of them are still using it. When I spoke to Adrianna Stoner and used the image to introduce myself at Silverstone, she said, "Oh, that's your picture. We still get it emailed to us about every five minutes."
I've been thinking a lot lately about what advice and help I can give other photographers, largely because I'm leading a photography seminar two weeks before the MotoGP round at Laguna Seca. In addition to technique, camera settings, and workflow secrets, I'll also be talking about the 'mental game' of photography, and one of the ideas of this aspect of getting interesting pictures is overcoming shyness and having the courage to take risks.
The above portrait of Romano Fenati and his father, Claudio, is one of my favorites from 2012, and I'd like to share its tale, both for those who are interested in a behind the scenes MotoGP story, and also for my fellow shooters who enjoy occasionally finding photography-related comments in this space.
Sometimes the guy in 6th place gets there with such style that his story is more compelling, more inspiring, and more enjoyable than the victor's. For me, the biggest story of Silverstone 2012 starts at least as early as Donington in 2008. James Toseland showed up to his home race in his rookie G.P. year to find the expected amount of media attention. It seemed in the days leading up the race that Toseland was on every front page in the country, and it also seemed impossible for any literate person in the U.K. not to know he was the local boy in the coming race at Donington Park. Not shy on courage, Toseland wore the English flag on his shoulders, literally, by appearing on Sunday in custom white leathers adorned with the red cross of St. George.
What unfolded as the race began was painful to watch, even as a foreigner. Toseland charged into the first turn at Redgate and crashed. He gathered himself and his bike up and continued on, far behind the race for the victory, but was cheered as he made his lonely way from grandstand to grandstand. At least local hopes for a good result had not been made to suffer for long.
Having worked directly with Max Biaggi, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, to name only a few, Federica De Zottis’ experience in Grand Prix motorcycle racing is truly unique. For the past five years she has worked closely with the Ducati Team riders, her current main responsibility on race weekends being to assist with the press duties of Valentino Rossi. When I approached her about the possibility of an interview, she was kind enough to invite me to the Ducati hospitality at Estoril to share her story.
Scott Jones: Federica, you're currently MotoGP Press Manager for Ducati Corse. Could you please describe your job for us?
Federica de Zottis: My job is split into two parts, the part that I do in the office in Bologna, and the part that I do here [in the MotoGP paddock]. Of course they are linked together, but during the winter I spend most of the time at the office.
The longer I get to work in the MotoGP paddock, the more it strikes me how many talented people contribute to the show by working behind the curtain while a small percentage of personalities get most of the media attention. Rhys Edwards, whom you may recognize from his frequent position in Casey Stoner’s seat during shots of the Respol garage, is one of many people I’ve met who manage to perform roles of great responsibility while remaining friendly, approachable and warm individuals. When I learned something about his background in Formula One, I assumed he would have an interesting story to tell about his career and how he arrived at HRC, and he was generous enough to let me ask him some questions about his experience during the final GP weekend at Estoril.
Scott Jones: Rhys, you’re Communications and Marketing Manager at Honda Racing Corporation. Many of our readers may not know exactly what that means, so could you give a brief description of your role at HRC?
When I entered the media center at Losail a few weeks ago, I happened to be thinking about how many people contribute to our enjoyment of MotoGP. From the journalists who write the background stories and race reports, to photographers who show us things we can't see on video, to the large number of people who produce the TV feed, each has his or her role in bringing us closer to the racing and increasing our enjoyment of what we see.
Years ago I was an avid bicycle racer, very much inspired by watching Greg Lemond take on the world in a sport dominated by Europeans. The TV broadcasts featured the commentary of a man named Phil Liggett, who still works as one of the main voices of cycling broadcasts in English. Liggett's enthusiasm and passion for cycling are inseparable from my experience of watching those 1980s Tours de France (and every one since, in fact), and he has stuck in my mind as someone who will be, for many, as big a part of the events he described as the events themselves.
The best of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels is, in my opinion, his last, the title of which I've borrowed for this piece. In The Long Goodbye, Chandler shows us more of what makes Philip Marlowe tick than in any of the previous novels, and along the way, as observed by my old professor Thomas Steiner, the book itself seems often to be Chandler's personal farewell to Marlowe and to the hardboiled detective novel itself.
This off-season has been a kind of Long Goodbye of my own, in this case not to a genre of fiction or to a fictional character, but to a real one. My main task over the past few months has been to go through my photos from each race weekend I've attended since 2008 and pull out the best images to show on Photo.GP, my online archive. Each time I open a new catalog or revisit one partially processed, I'm confronted with more images of Marco Simoncelli to edit and decide if they belong on Photo.GP or not.
You don't get many chances to get an image like this, with the entire grid together on track. Some circuits don't have a good first couple of turns, or it's hard to get there from the grid in time for the shot, or a good plan to get there is ruined by some unforeseen problem like a broken down shuttle, V.I.P. traffic on the access road, etc.
The San Francisco Dainese D-Store welcomed me and Jensen Beeler last week to share some of our thoughts and experiences in MotoGP. For my part of the presentation, I showed some photographs on a projector and told the stories that went along with them. A few folks asked if I could video the show, but that turned out to be a non-starter for various reasons. So instead I thought I'd write up the stories to share here for anyone who is interested. So here is the story behind...
I'm going to be appearing at the San Francisco Dainese store again in February and I anticipate still more questions about photography in addition to those about what it's like to work in the MotoGP paddock, so I thought I'd post something photography-related here for those of you who enjoy taking pictures at the races.
The above image of Marco Simoncelli at Indy is one of my personal favorites from 2011, and I thought it would be useful when talking about what a photographer can do in the darkroom, whether that's one that smells of chemicals or the digital version. While some photographers still lament the loss of film as a medium for various and often quite legitimate reasons, I am grateful for the opportunities to start with one image and end up with another via digital tools more powerful than those in the wet darkroom. This image is a good example of how digital tools turned one image into something much different, and ultimately a photograph that I place among my best of the season.
I spent more time on the grid in 2011 than ever before and one of the interesting benefits of this was the level of details I started noticing in some of the helmets. On TV, or even at trackside, it's difficult to see exactly what the helmet designers have done to make each rider's crash hat unique.
So I started grabbing a few close up shots of helmets as they popped out of the hustle and bustle that makes up a G.P. grid. This collection is arbitrary in that I made no effort to look at each helmet to find the best ones. There simply isn't time to do that, nor is it possible to look in a systematic way since the bikes arrive in an unpredictable order, and the grid itself is a fairly hectic space until right before the start when they kick us off.