From left: John Lindsey and Rob Klepper handle commentary for the live-stream broadcast of the NASA Nationals.

The 2012 NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was viewable live on SpeedcastTV and could be seen anywhere around the world. For that live feed to take place, more than a thousand details had to be put into play. The 2012 NASA Championships weren’t streamed live around the world by a 16-year-old girl standing on the bridge in Turn 1 filming the race on her iPhone. It was slightly more complicated than that. Actually, it was immensely more complicated.

Life inside the Speedcast Productions trailer is sensory overload. The staff inside the trailer make split-second decisions about which camera image to send to the live feed.
Life inside the Speedcast Productions trailer is sensory overload. The staff inside the trailer make split-second decisions about which camera image to send to the live feed.

NASA hired Speedcast Productions to come to Mid-Ohio and film the race. Speedcast used 10 cameras, more than 10,000 feet of cable strewn around the track, and 20 crew members to capture the action. Besides the different cameras positioned on track filming the cars as they battled during the race, the production also included two commentators, Rob Klepper and John Lindsey, who kept viewers informed about the running order and details of the race. Rob and John had a trick database — set up by NASA’s Dave Royce — where they could quickly search for a car by class and car number and their laptop screen would instantly fill up with detailed driver profiles, including sponsor names and previous race wins. To add even more depth to the production, Sampson Racing Communications connected in-car radios to the audio so Rob or John could have a live conversation with a driver during the race. Once each championship race was over, drivers found themselves standing in front of another camera as pit reporter, Jeremy Scott, was there to capture driver reactions from the race and to film the podium ceremonies.

Dave Balingit, who is part of race control, signals to John Lindsey and Rob Klepper that car No. 6 has had an issue on track. John and Rob use computer databases to quickly review driver profiles to add color and accuracy to the program.
Dave Balingit, who is part of race control, signals to John Lindsey and Rob Klepper that car No. 6 has had an issue on track. John and Rob use computer databases to quickly review driver profiles to add color and accuracy to the program.

Even now that the race is over, you can still view the event coverage at www.speedcasttv.com. The footage also will be edited and then shown on NBC Sports. Check www.nasaproracing.com to find out when the episodes will air.

 

Clark Cambern: The man behind Speedcast Productions

One reason the race coverage by Speedcast Productions is so well done is because the man behind the curtain is a racecar driver himself. Clark Cambern raced Formula Fords and then Pro F2000. During his 2006 season with Pro F2000, the sanctioning body lost its television package. Without a TV deal, it is almost impossible to convince a high-end sponsor to spend money on a race team. Clark saw a demand in the market for filming races and thus SpeedcastTV was born. Initially his coverage was strictly Internet, then it went to remote production with a live feed. He upgraded to HD, and now his race footage and racing documentaries (he films Survive the 25 each year for NASA) are used by NBC Sports (formerly known as Versus).

Clark says the effort that goes into producing an event like the NASA Championships is enormous. He has to travel with all of his gear, essentially a television station on wheels with a satellite dish inside a racing trailer, house and feed 20 plus crew members, keep all of his equipment working, hire talent to do commentary and pit reporting, and direct the live feed while doing graphics at the same time. “We try really hard to put on a good show.” Clark says as difficult as racing can be, dealing with mechanical issues on the car, tech, driving, etc., that is a relaxing weekend for him now. Producing a show live from the track is “immensely complex” especially while trying to do it at the right price point for a particular customer. The next time you see live footage of a NASA racecar carving through a corner, chances are at that same moment Clark is sitting in his director’s chair pressing the buttons to make it happen.

Clark Cambern sits among a plethora of computers and screens directing the video coverage for the live feed of the NASA Nationals at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Clark Cambern sits among a plethora of computers and screens directing the video coverage for the live feed of the NASA Nationals at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
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Image courtesy of Rob Krider