NASCAR Media Group is a media, marketing and entertainment company that creates and produces programming related to the sport, manages its media partnerships, and forges relationships to integrate the sport into mainstream entertainment. As the internal production and creative services company of NASCAR, it is the exclusive rights holder of event footage, race data and content.
As part of a major relocation of the headquarters to a new office complex in Charlotte, NC, NASCAR Media Group wanted to build a new HD production center. Communications Engineering, Inc. (CEI) was brought in to handle the design and integration for the massive file-based facility, which features the latest wideband 3Gb/s HD processing and distribution technologies with TV studios, control rooms, editing suites and other production areas.
CEI was responsible for all aspects of the HD production center project, including complete design, equipment procurement, systems integration, installation, testing, training and overall project management, as well as elements of ongoing technical support.
The production center is part of the new NASCAR Plaza, located next to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It occupies four floors of an office tower and two floors of the adjacent building, which contains a new television studio and production control room. Showtime uses the facility to tape and produce the one-hour “Inside NASCAR” program, which includes highlights, analysis and feature stories, as well as previews of upcoming races.
The project was especially challenging because the systems integration and installation had to be done in an active construction site, and much of the facility had to be ready for the first “Inside NASCAR” program and the start of race season. Complete testing of the 3Gb/s signal had to be conducted throughout the facility to ensure effective operations.
The facility also has a new HD international control room and post-production facility, which is used to broadcast races to international markets. The live feed of the race is customized for countries outside the United States and broadcast to those markets via satellite. The video is also captured and delivered to the new post-production area, where it is edited and used for upcoming programming. These activities previously were handled by mobile units located at the race track venues. The new system enables easier, more efficient management of the process while improving quality and reducing costs.
A radio production area includes two new radio control rooms featuring Wheatstone consoles. Each control room can accommodate six people, and one of the rooms is used by Sirius to produce its NASCAR channel.
In addition to the production center, CEI provided a media playroom, several conference rooms and custom A/V systems. A second studio, with HD audio and video control rooms, was completed in late 2010.
The on-time completion of the HD production center provides NASCAR with a future-proof facility that allows for the addition of even more capabilities and services.
New studio technology – HD
Submitted by Communications Engineering, Inc.
CEI: Raef Alkhayat, dir. of eng.; Felix Pena, dir. of mechanical eng.; Tom Hackett, PM; Ruber Huertas, sr. design eng.
NASCAR Media Group: Steve Stum, managing dir. of field ops.; Stu Albert, managing dir. of broadcast ops.
Technology at work
Apple: Final Cut edit suites
Autoscript: LED teleprompters
Chyron: HyperX HD/SD character generator
Cobalt: 9084 HD/SD-SDI RGB color correctors
DNF Controls: 2044CL video controller
Evertz: Control panels, distribution amplifiers, multiviewer, router, timing equipment, VistaLINK frame controllers
Grass Valley: K2 servers, Kayenne and Kayak production switchers, HD fiber base stations, LDK8000 HD studio cameras
Harris: Digital signage equipment, routers, VTM-4100 multiformat, on-screen monitors
Lectrosonic: SMQV wireless microphone systems
NEC: LCD HD displays
Panasonic: Plasma display
Samsung: LCD monitors
Sony: HDTVs and HD LCD master monitors
SSL: Production console
Tektronix: WFM7120 and WFM8300 waveform monitors
Wheatstone: Evolution 6 consoles
Wohler: Audio and video monitors