Case Study: Australia’s Supercars Championships Returns With BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint
Produced by Gravity Media, 12 hours of practice, qualifying, and racing air on Fox Sports 506
The wait was finally over when the Supercars Championships returned for the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint on Saturday, June 27. The Sydney MotorSport Park SuperSprint featured seven-time champion Jamie Whincup’s long-awaited 500th career Supercars race. Gravity Media provided the technical broadcast facilities with almost 12 hours of practice, qualifying, and racing airing live and advertisement-free exclusively on Fox Sports 506 across the two-day event.
Drivers arrived in Sydney on Friday, June 26 to conduct team track walks, which were carried out in line with government COVID-19 regulations. Nick Percat logged his first win with Brad Jones Racing, which didn’t go unnoticed because he holds a strong lead as Sydney’s BP Ultimate Performer. You can watch the highlights from across the weekend here.
The next event, Truck Assist Winton, is scheduled for Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19. The recent escalation of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne has forced the event to be relocated from Winton to Sydney Motorsport Park. The great news for motor-racing fans is that 10,000 fans will be allowed onsite to watch the race both days; the event will be broadcast live exclusively on Foxtel and streamed on Kayo. Highlights from the weekend will be aired on the Saturday and Sunday evening at 10 p.m. Australia time.
Given the heightened concerns with COVID-19, stakeholders have had to give serious thought to the work environment and create new practices to combat social distancing of 2 square meters. Because this is not entirely practical in a production unit, other countermeasures were created, including clear Perspex guards between operators; other PPE and sanitization products were readily available for constant use throughout the event.
In March, Supercars postponed three events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and filled the gap with a new eSeries competition, featuring real-life Supercars drivers. Using the iRacing platform featured in last year’s Supercars eSeries, teams race their own virtual Supercars in their team colours, online from home, on a weekly basis. Supercars plans to run the Tasmania, Auckland, and Perth rounds later in the season, as well as a replacement event for the Melbourne 400.
Gravity Media is the Outside Broadcast Technology partner to Supercars, swapping out the production trucks for its broadcast-studio facility at The Production Centre in Sydney with a host set and full control room for the production. Commentary is shared between Gravity Media’s Production Centres in Sydney and Melbourne, with race control and adjudication on the Gold Coast. All 25 driver webcams around Australia were available via Zoom conference, and two scan-converted outputs with driver audio was available on Discord channels.
In support of the eSeries, Gravity Media’s Production Centre in Sydney deploys onsite studio hosting, cameras, EVS replay, multiple iRacing observer PCs, commentary, and all talent green rooms and control room. The Production Centre in Sydney also integrates cameras and communications with each of the 30 drivers, who are in locations as far-flung as Netherlands and the U.S.
Additional commentary, including camera and on-air audio, is hosted from Gravity Media’s Production Centre in Melbourne, with broadcast facilities connected into its Production Centre in Sydney. Return vision and separate talkback circuits are delivered from Sydney to Melbourne for commentators. The Supercars eSeries Driving Standards Advisor is hosted from the Gold Coast with camera, on-air audio, and separate communications link integrated at The Production Centre in Sydney.