Live From Daytona 500: Fox Sports Makes 2022 NASCAR Season Debut With 1080p Broadcast, Massive Onsite Presence
Facilities in Los Angeles, Charlotte, Pittsburgh are handling remote workflows
The Daytona 500 is a NASCAR event that is shrouded in tradition and soaked with history. With a 63-year-long lineage, many achievements have been set and broken, but on the broadcast front, Fox Sports will be embarking on a brand-new course. In their first full season at 1080p HDR, the network is deploying technologies like two aerial drones, an 80-ft. Strada Crane, an abundant amount of in-car POVs, a Megalodon in Pit Road, and more for the season premiere.
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- Beverly Hills Aerials Takes to the Sky With FPV Racing, Heavy Lift Drones
- SMT Amplifies Fox Sports’ New Graphics Package With Heart Rate Telemetry, Real-Time Position Tracking
- BSI Adapts to Next-Gen Cars With New Front, Rear Bumper Cams
- Fox Sports Will Still ‘Crank It Up’ for the Iconic Race
- Game Creek Video Readies Encore Mobile Unit for NASCAR on Fox Season Opener
Broadcasting in 1080p HDR: Network Runs With Game Creek Video’s Encore Mobile Unit
Despite this being the first official race of the 2022 NASCAR campaign, the fun began closer to Fox Sports’ headquarters in Los Angeles. During the Busch Light Clash at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the network was able to test and experiment with the new set of workflows that will be put through its paces this year. The exhibition race was also taking place in a new venue, so there were a ton of different aspects to get used to. The crew’s main mobile unit for the season, Game Creek Video’s Cleatus, was undergoing a handful of upgrades prior to the race. In addition, NEP’s new SRT3 mobile unit was brought online for its NASCAR debut as well.
“Our trucks are ready to go for the rest of the season, but the Clash was as big of a build as we’re doing this weekend,” says Matt Battaglia, director, remote engineering, Fox Sports. “Everything that we were doing was new to us and NASCAR.”
With the season continuing on the West Coast next weekend, Fox Sports left their flagship truck in California and work out of Encore down in Daytona. The mobile unit is battle tested — the vehicle handled their production of the NFC Championship Game between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium a week before the Clash — and this decision was able to give the crew coming from Los Angeles some breathing room.
“The biggest worry was moving a lot of the equipment that was in Los Angeles to Daytona,” continues Battaglia. “We pretty much put everything in Robo 1 and made sure it got here after a three-day drive across the country. Having Encore in Daytona with a different engineering group also gave us some fresh eyes.”
A Full Tech Toolbox: Cameras Include Drones, 80-Ft. Strada Crane, Megalodon
Fox Sports will be meeting the biggest production of the NASCAR schedule with a bevy of technology. A total of 45 cameras will be scattered throughout Daytona International Speedway as well as within the cars on the track. There is a quartet of devices that headline this large tech arsenal. In the air, Beverly Hills Aerials will be flying its heavy lift drone with a RED KOMODO camera and Angenieux zoom lens) and its FPV racing drone with a GoPro HERO 10. Closer to the ground, an 80-ft. Strada Crane will be positioned outside of the track limits near the start/finish line. Lastly, the network’s Megalodon (a cinematic Sony A7iii) will be roaming the pit road and garage areas.
Other notable devices are included in this complement, including 16 Sony HDC-4300s,16 Sony HDC-P50s, two Sony HDC-4800s at 16x speed, and two Sony HDC-5500s at 6x speed. Another three Sony HDC-5500s will be used as handhelds in the pits.
For POVs, Broadcast Sports International (BSI) will be controlling a flurry of in-car cameras. The newest of the bunch includes front and rear bumper cams that have aligned with NASCAR’s Next-Gen cars. While all of these cameras will capture the attention of viewers watching from home, it all comes back to these feeds being distributed in a new format.
“About 90% of the cameras that are out here are 1080p HDR native,” says Battaglia. “We’ll be acquiring that signal from the beginning [of our NASCSAR productions] to the end.”
In the compound, Game Creek Video is supplying the A, B, and C units of Encore, Robo 1, and Edit 4 for Fox’s onsite team of nearly 200 staffers. As for NEP’s SRT3 truck, the mobile unit is facilitating the shared resources of NASCAR.
“The collaboration of NEP’s Systems Integration, Engineering and Remote Operations teams has evolved with much success,” says Glen Levine, president, NEP U.S. Broadcast Services. “This project brings new innovations to the broadcast compound, and everyone is proud of what’s been accomplished.”
NEP Fletcher will also play a role on this production as well. The company is providing five Sony HDC-P31/HDC-P50 POV systems and seven panning Sony HDC-P31/ HDC-P50 robotic systems around the track, one high-frame-rate Phantom camera system at the start/ finish line, three Sony HDC-P31 announcer booths systems, one Sony HDC-P31 “beauty cam” robotic system with an Abekus wide angle lens, one Gizmo robotic with a 95x lens for coverage of potential lighting strikes in the area, one Atom One POV system for race control and officiating.
Residing Offsite: Los Angeles, Charlotte, Other Cities Provide Essential Services
Fox Sports will have a large onsite presence, but the network will also have a full offsite backbone at the ready. The two main cogs of the operation will be centralized in the Pico facility in Los Angeles and their NASCAR home base in Charlotte. A total team of 16 employees (including EVS operators, graphics, and Fox Box operator) will be based out of the Pico building, while the operations and production teams of NASCAR Race Hub will be in Charlotte. Analysts Larry McReynolds, who was working in Daytona earlier in the week, will break down the race in Charlotte as well. Nearly 22 paths will be shared between the onsite team in Daytona, the crew in Los Angeles, and the crew in Charlotte.
Away from those two locations, four staffers will be stationed at NEP’s facility in Pittsburgh and a trio will be working from their own homes, including Editor Victor Gonzalez from Charlotte, Radio Mixer Jeff Feltz in Indianapolis, and Radio Editor Jeff Bratta in Southern Georgia. After Sunday’s race, NASCAR on Fox will be moving forward with their primary graphics operator in Pittsburgh and zero onsite graphics operators. As an added twist, Battaglia and company will be sending back camera feeds to Fox Deportes at their own facility in Los Angeles.
“They’re doing something a little different than what they usually do,” he says. “They have analysts up in their secondary booth and a roving reporter on LiveU, so we’re feeding them back their booth camera as well as ISOs and other booth feeds.”
A Creative Refresh: New Graphics Package Brings Updated Data Integration to the Broadcast
Fans will also notice a new graphics package on Sunday’s broadcast. Replicating the set of elements that were introduced during Super Bowl LIV in 2020, this more dynamic approach incorporates movement and creativity. For example, drivers will have artistic drawings of themselves, which are similar to the “hero” graphics used for the NFL.
New graphics also means new opportunities for data-driven information. SMT is onsite to integrate new elements like heart rate and throttle telemetry as well optical tracking. The real-time pointers will let fans know where drivers are on the track and the telemetry data will give them insights into how the driver is performing in the cockpit.
Team Analytics have received a makeover as well. In accordance with NASCAR’s Next-Gen car model, the virtual cars will look identical to the new aesthetics of the Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota cars in the race. The GhostCar application will also have more visual charts than ever before, which will track RPM and throttle spikes.
A Family Affair: Numerous Studio Shows Take Over the World Center of Racing
This massive event wouldn’t be a spectacle without the hours of shoulder programing. Bringing fans closer to the asphalt, the physical set of the prerace and postrace shows have moved from the concourse to a spot in the old victory lane. Utilizing the same set from the Clash, Fox Sports’ Director, Remote Studio Operations Rob Mikulicka and Manager, Remote Studio Operations Amy Burns are supervising the activation in front of the start/finish line. The main feature of this structure is two mechanical arms developed by Filmwerks. These arms provides the ability to rise and collapse quickly.
Along with the main Fox Sports studio show, other programs from the Fox family has set up shop in Daytona, including Fox and Friends Weekend with Will Cain, Rachel Campos-Duffy, and Pete Hegseth.
The First of Many: Fox Sports Prepares for a Busy Year Ahead
Aside from the Clash, the Daytona 500 is always the de facto beginning of the sports calendar for Fox Sports. Throughout all of 2022 and the start of 2023, this race will kick start a large slate of domestic and international events, including the Big East basketball tournament in the spring, the MLB All-Star Game and Field of Dreams in the summer, the start of college football and postseason baseball in the fall, the Men’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar in November, and Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix next February.
“In the years where we don’t have a Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 is really the biggest event of the year,” concludes Battaglia.