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11.13.2009
NASCAR Revs Up Edits With AJA's KONA 3
Chris Whitmayer

CHARLOTTE, N.C.
As the New Media Technologist at NASCAR Media Group, the production and creative services company for NASCAR, my primary job is to decide what technologies to bring in to the facility, and then design workflows around them. As part of our transition to high definition—and in preparation for a move later this year to a new facility at the 40,000 square-foot NASCAR Plaza currently under construction—we've made the conversion to an all-Apple ProRes workflow, standardizing our entire workflow to include AJA solutions.

CARDS CAN'T BE BEAT FOR RELIABILITY

The post production portion of our operation uses 20 AJA KONA 3 video capture and playback cards to ingest 150 hours of multi-camera shooting for each NASCAR race, and an additional 15 KONA 3 cards are used for monitoring in our 11 edit bays, two graphic suites and two New Media suites. KONA 3 is AJA's top-of-the-line uncompressed capture card for SD, HD, and Dual Link 4:4:4 HD for Apple Mac Pro systems, and since we started using them we've had zero failures.

As used in the edit bays, the KONA 3 cards support two streams of high-definition video for playback on both client and color correction monitors. The uniformity of an HD workflow was the main reason we went with the KONA 3. Another factor was its ease of integration with Apple Final Cut Pro. And because of its dual link capabilities, the KONA 3 doesn't limit where we can go with things in the future.

10 TB IS ALL IN A DAY'S WORK

At maximum capacity, our operation can handle up to 17 TB of ProRes 720p video each day. With three operator shifts, our daily production is at about 10 TB, with all of that content running through KONA. That's the exciting thing for me—anyone can put a video card in an edit bay, but what we're doing is ingesting the entire NASCAR archive through the KONA cards. Used in conjunction with Building4Media's Fork automation systems, the KONA 3 can ingest directly into our SAN for live editing.

Once the material has been edited, it's wrapped into a .mov QuickTime file and then archived. With the KONA card's application program interface, we can generate low and high-res files at the same time, which means that anyone with a laptop can grab files and start working immediately. Editors can then take the EDL or XML file from Final Cut into the online edit suite and re-link to the high-res files. The KONA 3 gives us the capability to do this—I don't think there's any other card that has the same capabilities.

The KONA 3 is perfect for our operation, as it's not only cost effective, but also allows us to maintain an all-ProRes workflow and provides ingest at a fraction of the cost of other systems. Also, as the KONA 3 has been an industry standard for several years, I never have to worry about where we will be able to go in the future.

Chris Witmayer is the New Media Technologist for NASCAR Media Group, the production and creative services company for NASCAR. He can be contacted at cwitmayer@nascar.com.

For additional information, contact AJA Video at 530-274-2048 or visit www.aja.com.



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