the master audio mixer for international TV
Located outside the main truck, in what we
call our “B” unit is the pre-mix room. Into this room comes every
microphone, with the exception of announcer-related microphones. This is
pre-mixed here, then sent to Mike Pope (Domestic) and to Gary Elghammer
(International) simultaneously. It's done by Steve Miller.
He is the one responsible for that rat's
nest of wires I showed you earlier. Nobody goes close to that
(laughter). His whole function is to get the right sense. Remember, I
told you television is the enemy of racing from a sound point of view?
He is the guy that gets you the zoom, zoom, zoom. We've got microphones
at not only every camera position, plus special effects microphones at
every place. He's the one that mixes those.
and Dave Goldsmith in the video control room
Mike Pope is the master mixer. He's the guy
that takes all of the divergent audio signals, and there are hundreds of
them at a place like this, and mixes them all to what you hear back
home. He also, because of his position here in the domestic truck, is
really the guy that supervises all of the other audio within the
So he has a huge responsibility because this is a terribly, terribly
complicated audio mix setup. I've been in this business for more years
than I care to ever tell anybody. This is the most complicated audio
system I've ever seen, and it is because of the international influence
that we have and we have to address, plus the fact that we're involved
very much with the Internet and all of the mixing that goes on with
that. We have some really serious audio people here.
Doreen Murray and Marc Dorsey run the videotape equipment
Doreen Murray is our tape producer. Neil
Rogers is the lead Elvis operator. He does the music pieces that you see
airing that have been garnered from live coverage just mainly 20 minutes
ago. Plus, he does all the roll-outs for us. He does all the packaging
for us when we're in preproduction. This is really a pressure-packed
Marc Dorsey runs the second Elvis and the
two Elvis operators talk to one another electronically so they are able
to assist one another. It's really incredible how quickly we can get
packages put together back here because of that.
Pierre Perrault over there is our lead
videotape operator. The difference between an Elvis and a videotape
machine is that an Elvis can handle up to four channels of incoming
video. A regular videotape machine handles one video feed. But any one of these
tape machines can take in any individual source and, in fact, have
different assignments depending upon what is happening on the track.
Every single camera has a record source
Charlie Farr is our second videotape
operator in this room. You see what he's doing right now, he's counting
the control room into this preproduction piece.
Simultaneously it's going into the Elvis. If
you hear me say, I want 1-4-2-A, one, four, two alpha, that corresponds
with the number assigned to that piece at the time it is created.,
Doreen, then, knows where everything is stored and, working this group
of very talented guys, makes certain we get the right video on the air.
We have online nine tape machines, a total
of three Elvises, and that doesn't include the recording facility.
Q. What happens with a tape-delay event, like qualifying? Do you
actually sit there and edit it and determine what you're going to put in
that one hour or half hour show?
JOHN MULLIN: We do it live to tape. I found
it amusing that sometimes folks talk about the Atlantics, for instance,
being heavily post produced. Never. It's all done live to tape. It's
done as though it's a live television show. The turnarounds that we have
to hit these days are so fast we don't have time for post production any
Q. How about Australia, would you delay
JOHN MULLIN: We will do that live to tape from Australia, but we will
have a moment or two if we need to condense something or fix some
problem. We still have to get it to the network very quickly. For
instance, we're going to do Australia in Allentown, PA, where NCP, the
people who provide us with these remote facilities have their
headquarters. It's got to get both to Charlotte and to Los Angeles for
the FOX uplink.
And at the same time we will be doing a live feed at 1:00 in the morning
to our friends internationally.
Q. There is a lot going on.
JOHN MULLIN: Yes. It's all right here, right now, get it right the first
time. That, is basically what this business is about. Decisions are made
instantly. You need to trust your instincts, and when you are wrong, you
beat yourself up, and then go forward.
Television has gotten to the point where the expectations are great and
it takes an awful lot of equipment, and a team of highly skilled,
dedicated professionals to get things done. The trucks that we use, NCP
out of Pennsylvania, are superb. You really can't do this kind of
production without this level of equipment on-site.
Some of the wiring necessary to make
it all happen
One entire trailer is just for power
Q. Because of the nature of racing, the nature of the playing field, so to
speak, a four-mile track, is this the hardest kind of sport to broadcast?
JOHN MULLIN: Oh, you know, I think if you ask anybody that does golf, they'd
tell you that it's the hardest. If you talk to the guys that really know how
to do baseball, they'd tell you it's the hardest.
I'll say this: compared to doing a football game, soccer game, anything
that's on a field where you can sit in the seats and see the entirety of the
field, this thing -- racing blows the doors off of them, if you will, to use
a racing term. It's extraordinarily complicated. It's done by people that
have an awful lot of experience and who are specialists.
Q. What are you directing then during the commercial? The commercial is
running. What are you directing?
We are busy through an entire commercial break. There's no pause in anything
for us, because what we're doing is figuring out how we want to come back.
We're getting any elements set up we need to, any sales elements we need to
get into the upcoming segment.
We frequently open up all of the microphones between our
announcers, and we talk amongst ourselves.” Hey, are we covering this
correctly? Have we got all the stories? What's happening in the back of the
pack? Is somebody moving through that we haven't figured out yet, that we
There's a lot of communication that goes on during commercials.
Q. Who directs during commercials?
JOHN MULLIN: Jack Sedlak in our International unit.
Sedlak - Director of the International Truck
JACK SEDLAK: I direct all the cameras during commercials for the
International feed. Then I talk to their director (Gary Clem), I'll say,
What do you want to have when you come back? He'll say,” When I come back, I
want to be on the lead.” At that point I'll transition to the leader.
When I hand it back off to him, he's right where he wants to be. The camera
operators aren’t confused if they're covering two battles. He might say,
There's a great battle for third. Get me to that. Then I'll get to that and
hand it off to him.
Q. If something happens during break, like an important pit stop or an
accident or something, you make sure that gets covered properly?
SEDLAK: Yes. We have access to all of the recording devices that John and
Q. If they want to see a tape delay of it, a one-minute tape delay of it,
SEDLAK: If it was an accident, it really wouldn't be a tape delay, it would
be a set of replays played back, you know. But if there was a pass for the
lead, they might say, “Here is what happened while you were gone, show the
line cut as a replay.
SEDLAK: Everybody in this room is a specialist in racing television and has
hundreds of hours of production under their belts specifically with respect
to racing. Many of us do other things, but the racing is something that is a
specialized art form.
JOHN MULLIN: This is the engineering area of the truck. In other words,
this is where the brain trust that keeps all of this working resides.
Garrard Wark is the Engineer-in-Charge.
Garrard Wark, Engineer-In-Charge
GARRARD WARK: I have a staff of one, two, three, four other engineers.
One is in charge of the truck over there. One is in charge of the truck
there. Then there's a floater. Three drivers.
All the cameras do come to here. This is the main truck. We distribute
the feeds from here to the compound, to whoever needs it, whatever
trucks. Not all the cameras are mine that are here. There's some Brovos
that come into the truck. There's robotic cameras also.
Mike Callahan and Dave Goldsmith are responsible for the video quality
that you see on the television show. They monitor constantly all of the
camera sources that are out there that are fed into this truck. That
would include everything.
They're responsible for everything including the in-car cameras, the RF
cameras, POVs, track cameras.
JOHN MULLIN: This is a black art. There are two black art areas in my
mind. One is video and the other is audio. In terms of video shading and
what have you, it takes a very unique eye and an ability to almost sense
what the light is going to be from one corner to the next.
You asked me about the complexity of motorsport. If you're doing a
football game that has Musco Lighting on it, it's a constant source of,
say, 75-foot candles. It's very evenly lit. You can pretty much run
those things on autopilot. These two gentlemen have to sit there and
gauge between each camera cut what the weather is doing, what the cloud
cover is, whether or not the front straight or corner No. 1, which is
two miles away from corner 10, what the lighting is going to be, try to
level it out so we have quality throughout. I call it a black art
because I'm not smart enough to figure it out.
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