NBC Sports NASCAR Production Team Is on the Road Again With Game Creek Video
Upgraded replay capabilities, new Hawkeye, extra cameras mark the coverage this season.
When the NBC Sports NASCAR production team hit the road for the 2020 season, the COVID-19 pandemic mandated some big changes. The crew was split in two, with some at the track and the remainder working out of NBC Peacock, which was located at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and served as a hub for the entire 15-week season. This year, the team is once again working as one and is onsite for every event.
“Talent is excited, production is excited, and the crew is super excited with the last few weeks of racing and with fans on TV,” says Michelle Baker, production manager, NBC Sports. “[Having] two compounds was tough, and everyone is doing really well getting back together. There’s a lot of energy and positivity.”
Game Creek Video’s Peacock is once again the production unit of choice for the NASCAR season. Designed as a racing-package truck, it comprises Peacock A and B, an edit truck (providing extra room), and a truck for the robotic cameras.
“That consistency helps us out,” notes Eric Thomas, technical manager, NBC Sports. “It would be very difficult to change on a weekly basis.”
According to NBC Sports Tech Manager Matt Hogencamp, the biggest improvement is that Peacock replay capability has been upgraded, with EVS VIA servers replacing EVS XT3’s (Dominic Torchia, director, remote engineering and technology, NBC Sports, spearheaded that effort with Game Creek) and higher-bandwidth, feature-rich Arista 7050X3 Ethernet switches which mate to the new EVS environment. A new Hawkeye system also is in place for in-car–camera needs.
“We started this season with a totally new replay system with new controllers,” Hogencamp explains. “That has helped to streamline some of our workflows. And, with Hawkeye, we have a new system for our in-cars that is lighter, smaller, and [features] new technology that is more customized to what we’re trying to do with our in-car cameras.”
As for cameras, the Bat Cam wired camera, which can hit speeds up to 100 mph, will be used a couple of times during the season, but drones, at this point, are not in the mix. Also, BSI is playing a big part with RF technology: NBC Sports increased its POV-style cameras, including a grass camera that provided a new look and new angles to coverage.
This summer will be an incredibly busy one for the team at NBC Sports. Besides NASCAR, there is the Open Championship July 15-18 and, starting July 23, the Tokyo Olympics, which will involve some of the NASCAR team.
“Some of our engineers and production will go to the Olympics,” says Baker. “It’s an opportunity for them not only to get to go but to work on a different event. It’s great for everybody.”