In an innovative first for Irish rallying, the Circuit of Ireland's stand-in event, the Triton Showers Easter Stages, is to be streamed 'live' on the internet from start to finish.
Tyndall Productions, the Hillsborough company behind the RPM television coverage on UTV and satellite stations, has joined forces with students from the South Eastern Regional College's Film School to set up internet channel www.circuitofireland.tv which will broadcast 12 hours of non-stop coverage on Easter Saturday, March 30.
The project is being supported by the Department for Employment and Learning, with minister Stephen Farry who attended yesterday's launch at SERC's Ballynahinch campus.
A studio, manned by the film school students and overseen by the RPM team, is being set up at rally headquarters in the Millbrook Lodge Hotel in Ballynahinch link with camera crews on location at the ceremonial start in Lisburn, at the central service area, at the Ballynahinch finish and out on a specially selected special stage.
Six cameras will be located on the stage, which runs three times during the event, providing live coverage of the challenges facing the drivers.
All of the footage will be beamed back to the base via a live stream, giving rally fans across the globe the opportunity to follow the event as it unfolds.
The idea is the brainchild of rally director Bobby Willis who brought Tyndall Productions, SERC's Film School and the Department for Employment and Learning together to create the project.
"TV coverage of the 2012 Intercontinental Challenge Circuit of Ireland netted more than nine million viewers worldwide and when it became clear that the international section of the rally could not run this year as part of the new European championship there was a widespread demand for an Easter rally," said Willis.
"It was clear, too, there was a great demand to see more rallying from Northern Ireland and that's what inspired this idea.
"With the guidance of Alan Tyndall and Campbell Miller, the assistant head of the film school, and the enthusiastic support of the students at SERC we staged trials at two rallies earlier this year and are now ready to go ahead with this exciting project," Willis added.
The college's industry-standard studio facilities in Ballynahinch allow students to create film and television shows as part of their courses on a daily basis but this will be their first venture into the world of live TV transmission to a global audience.
"It will allow them to showcase their ability and gain real practical experience which will serve them well when they enter the working world," said Miller. "They are really looking forward to it."
Minister Farry added: "The development of this innovative internet television channel will provide the students with real life, hands-on experience of media planning and production."