Apex Broadcast Revs Up With Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic gear critical in covering professional auto racing broadcasts across the country.
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LANSING, Mich.—Since 2007, Apex Broadcast has specialized in live coverage of professional auto racing. We’ve built two custom OB trucks that travel to different tracks in North America with a mobile workflow that allows us to shoot about 20 races annually. Right now, we’re capturing the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America, which airs monthly on CBS Sports Network on Sundays from April to October.

STOCKING THE TRUCKS

Our OB trucks are fully equipped with Blackmagic Design gear. Our larger unit is equipped for a 20-source show with an ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K live production switcher, ATEM 2 M/E Broadcast Panel control panel, three ATEM Camera Control Panels, 13 URSA Broadcast professional broadcast cameras, Broadcast Videohub SDI router, four HyperDeck Studios and approximately 30 Mini Converter Optical Fiber 12G converters. Our second, smaller unit carries an ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K live production switcher, ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel, 40x40 Smart Videohub SDI router and six URSA Broadcast cameras.

ATEM panels allow Apex’s crew to effectively manage the entire production from its OB trucks.

ATEM panels allow Apex’s crew to effectively manage the entire production from its OB trucks.

This season we are travelling to seven different tracks to cover the Blancpain GT World Challenge. From Tuesday to Thursday during a typical race week, we set up 30,000 feet of tactical fiber cables to position our gear around the track. On Friday, we set up the URSA Broadcasts along with the rest of the gear. The bigger the track, the more cameras we use to omit any blind spots for a more refined viewing experience. The shortest track we’ve worked on is just under two miles, which required eight cameras, and the longest is just over four miles, which required 12 cameras.

AWAY WE GO

On race day, our workflow is very straightforward with the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K compact enough to live in rack—a huge plus for us. Additionally, the networking protocol gives a lot of flexibility in terms of crewing.

In our larger truck, camera shading is done from the engineering desk with three ATEM Camera Control Panels. Our video technician can manage iris, white balance and color balance of 12 cameras from these panels.

In addition to the camera’s SDI output, shading controls, audio communications, program return and tally are carried over fiber. We use the ATEM’s audio follow feature to build an effects audio sub mix of engine sounds, and our audio technician control camera levels via the ATEM’s software control.

Since auto racing is very dynamic, our technical director works from the ATEM 2 M/E Broadcast Panel. Its tactile control surface facilitates faster switching than the software control, and he’s able to manage DVE effects, transitions and macros from the surface, which is important in a complex show.

The SDI router is the heart of a production truck, and our 72x144 Broadcast Videohub has given us many years of reliable service. Just like the ATEM, the router can be controlled over IP, which makes it easy to control the router from anywhere in the truck. In addition, four HyperDeck Studios allow us to capture two copies each of the clean broadcast cut (no graphics) and dirty cut (with graphics).

As we look ahead to our next race, it’s a relief to know that we can count on Blackmagic Design to deliver a premium experience for both our clients and viewers at home.

Apex Broadcast was founded by Clark Cambern in 2007 and since then has grown to include multicam video production, field production and post production. He can be contacted via www.facebook.com/apexbroadcast.

For additional information, visit blackmagicdesign.com or call 408-954-0500.