20mm: Tell us about VFAT 2008. How many teams are there and from where? The event is going to be streamed live on their web site, but I assume you have to have some practice time on that site so you get a feel for it, correct?
Rhino: VFAT 2008 is the 4th time that VFAT has been held. We were privileged to fly in it last year, the first year it was streamed live on the web, as well as in 2005 for the first VFAT show. The streaming has really opened some new doors to our community with the outside world. Before, in order to watch VFAT, you had to physically own Lock-On, install all of the mods, and then be one of the lucky 30 or so that could connect to the server the flight was being held on to actually be able to view the event. What we’re hearing from “Interoute”, the company doing the streaming, is that we will be able to have in the ball park of 50,000 connections at any given point, so as you can see the difference in the amount of people able to share in the event compared to 2005 and 2006 is staggering.
We will have a designated “camera man”, who is feeding the stream to Interoute, study up on our demo so everyone can see and hear the action just like a real airshow!
20mm: How does the interface between the VFAT 2008 and your team work? I assume you guys have a sit down meeting or something where you go over the details. Like, who does the camera work and the views, at what points, the whole choreography of the show.
Rhino: There is an organizing team, of which I am a part of, that has laid the groundwork for what will happen that weekend, as far as scheduling and all the “admin” stuff. It definitely gives a parallel to what a real airshow is like and how it is run.(schedule, flight waivers, etc.)
20mm: Your narrator is #7, “Beaker”. That’s a big job. Tell us a little about what “Beaker” does and how he does it.
Rhino: After writing the narration scripting out, its “Beaker’s” job to tell the folks at home watching on the stream a depiction of what they are seeing in the air. It’s especially important with our A-4 show due to the fact that not many people who will watch our show ever saw the Blues fly the A-4, and those that did likely don’t remember what the show was like. Not only does he explain what the maneuvers are called, he gives an explanation of why the maneuver is performed, and sometimes what types of challenges that our specific pilots face during that specific maneuver.
20mm: Talk a little about hardware requirements, for each of the pilots and for the team. I assume it’s “as much as you can get”, but also that there’s a minimum to reduce lag and make sure everyone’s on the same page as much as can be. Same topic, how about HOTAS? Does everyone have their own preference or is there a standard there as well? And last but not least, NaturalPoint’s TrackIR. I assume everyone uses it?
Rhino: Everyone uses some sort of HOTAS system on our team. As far as preference, our team is really a recipe of Saitek, CH Products, Logitech, with a dash of Thrustmaster. It really depends on what makes everyone comfortable, smooth, and precise as possible. TrackIR is a huge asset in the situational awareness aspect of what we do.
As far as hardware requirements, Lock-On really is a hungry beast of a program that requires a solid computer. To top that off, with the inclusion of higher detailed models, it’s important everyone keep their rigs at top condition to reduce lag.
20mm: Maybe a touchy subject here, but ever have some “boo-boo’s” in practice? Is there a blooper reel we can see?
Rhino: Of course not, we never make any “boo-boo’s”!
20mm: I’ve seen your team’s latest public video and it is simply incredible. You guys are obviously very skilled and talented pilots. Not to mention dedicated, and that’s huge. So I want to close without taking any more of your valuable time and wish you the best of luck in upcoming VFAT 2008 festival on December 12, 13, and 14. Go VBA!
Rhino: Thank you very much for the interview Tom and appreciate your kudos on the “Rollin” film. We hope everyone tunes in to watch all of the great teams at VFAT 2008. As always we want to bring a great show to the VFAT spectators, and we may still have a surprise or two up our sleeves on show day!
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Read the first SimHQ Virtual Blue Angels Interview from 2006 here.