Jason Stromberg, Technical Operations Manager, Motorsports Sportvision /
07.24.2012 06:05 PM
Blackmagic Keeps Pace With NASCAR

The RACEf/x system in operation
CHICAGO—Since 1998 Sportvision has produced more than 10,000 live events and our ability to deliver compelling graphic enhancements and capture performance data has changed the way fans consume sports.

Sportvision’s field operations team is responsible for working closely with our network partners, serving as the last link in the live broadcast chain.

Our video feeds go to several networks, and throughout the productions, we support the broadcast operations group. I am specifically tasked with providing the broadcast architecture to support the RACEf/x system used during national broadcasters’ live coverage of NASCAR events.

The RACEf/x system—which tracks cars at speeds reaching more than 200 mph— creates a complete digital record of a NASCAR race in real time, delivering a broad array of visual effects for television, such as pointers, telemetry, bubbles, arrows, and the like. Using GPS satellites, RACEf/x tracks and collects location information and car performance data from every car in the field—acceleration, braking, lap position, speed, and other parameters, and delivers data to broadcast, Internet and wireless applications.

RACEf/x allows fans to customize their viewing experience while following the action in real time. To ensure a seamless experience, it’s imperative that the routing infrastructure supporting these effects packages be reliable, efficient, scalable, and able to handle any and all formats. Space is always at a premium in mobile production environments and the router used for this application has to be small enough to fit among all the other gear in a 53-foot trailer. Our router of choice is Blackmagic Design’s Universal Videohub 288, and it’s a really good fit for NASCAR production.

The Universal Videohub’s modular design allows me to scale things up or down as needed. We have it populated at 156x156, and this matrix size allows me to add interfaces to meet the needs of specific races.

At any given race, we typically have between 20 to 40 feeds in and out of the truck, along with some 25 computers and video and audio jack fields to manage. The compact Universal Videohub manages routing control and feeds seamlessly, and has enabled us to operate much more efficiently.

Multiformat operation is essential, as broadcast rights holders require different formats for their NASCAR productions;— some networks require 720p, while others need 1080i. The Universal Videohub interfaces with both formats in the same router, eliminating the confusion associated with managing multiple routers.

At NASCAR events, broadcasters send us feeds, we add graphics, and the final product is played out live. We are the final link in the production process before the viewer sees the footage, and we don’t ever want feeds or graphics to be delayed or omitted because of a faulty router. That’s why we count on the Universal Videohub. It has been an extremely reliable asset in ensuring the success of the overall Sportvision production that we execute on behalf of NASCAR and our network partners.

Jason Stromberg is technical operations manager of Motorsports at Sportvision. He may be contacted through www.sportvision.com

For additional information, contact Blackmagic Design at 408-954-0500 or visit www.blackmagic-design.com

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