What these guys do, they're sort of like video/audio bandits. What
they're doing is taking our feed. When we go away, they suddenly are
asked to pick up the production at exactly when we leave and carry it on
for the international audience.
So Gary Elghammer is responsible for the international booth, which is a
set of announcers, Jeremy Shaw, James Hinchcliffe, and for any
additional effects or music or audio sources that might come only into
the international show.
For instance, today they'll be doing certain preproductions; for
instance, the starting grid. They will package that so that they can
show that to the international audience.
Any of the other kinds of things that they feel they may need to get,
that the producer and director team that's up there feels they need,
then they package that. Gary is responsible for all of that audio.
I talked about the complexity of audio. I think this setup is certainly
one of the most complex I've ever been involved with. Part of the issue
is trying to get all of the communications talking to one another. When
you have two divergent trucks that are trying to communicate with one
another at different times at different levels, it becomes very
Gary is an expert at patching these things together and making them work
so that you can talk to whom you need to talk to and you won't hear who
you don't need to hear.
Q. So in international, do some countries take Jeremy Shaw's and James
Hinchcliffe's voice and other countries put their own announcers on?
JOHN MULLIN: Yes. At that point we call it a scratch track. They treat
the Jeremy Shaw and James Hinchcliffe narration as a scratch track, then they
put their own announcers on using whatever their language is.
Which, by the way, is an interesting skill to develop. When you're
listening to an Englishman in one ear, and you're trying to do an
Italian call, translating in your head nearly simultaneously, it's quite
a skill for those people.
Jack Sedlack is the director who takes over from Gary and me when we go
to commercial. He, in fact, was cutting the practice session today
because we were doing preproduction next door. When we get into
qualifying, we'll take it back because we're doing a qualifying show.
It's seamless as far as the international. They have power to change
coverage. If they feel there's a battle they want to show that we can't
show because we're in commercial, then they go to it. I then will let
them know, okay, we're coming back in 30 seconds and I need to look at
this or we're going to stay with where you are. They then get the
cameras back to where it is we want or leave them alone, as it happens,
then we come back, we rejoin and take it back from them.
I mentioned to you the two graphics devices that we use, that was way
back when in the domestic truck.
The Deko was one of them, and the Duet was the second one. This is the
Duet. It has a completely different look than anything that's generated
by the Deko. This is here because of two things. One, Jack and Sharon,
the International producer, use a limited number of graphics off of this
machine, as this has a second load which is identical to the one that's
in the Deko. But, two, this is the one we use for any show that we're
producing, like the Atlantics that is produced solely for SPEED.
In other words, the Atlantics only air on SPEED, so we use the SPEED
look. However, the international feed gets the Champ Car look from the
Each network, Mark, has its own look. We use the SPEED look. That all
generates out of here. There's an operator and a coordinator, just like
you saw next door.
Remote BST Camera Trailer
All of our RF equipment is supplied by Broadcast
Sports Technology (BST), a vendor that specializes in wireless
systems. These guys have their roots in Australia. The partners
are John Porter and Peter Larsson, who developed the in-car
camera. They won the Emmy award back in the '70s for CBS at the
Daytona 500. They've now turned into a company that has about
nine of these. They do all of the major motorsports events. They
do Champ Car, they do NASCAR. If you're a major event -- they do
the NHRA -- you work with these guys. They also do an awful lot
Q. They developed the miniature camera, so to speak?
JOHN MULLIN: Yes. The founding father of this thing is a guy by
the name of John Porter who is a genius in making microcameras.
One of his current involvements right now is working with NASA
getting the little cameras that they can see from up on the
Doug Parr is the engineer in charge for this unit. Out of here
comes both our RF pit cameras and -- which would be numbers 21
and 22. All the in-car cameras, plus all of the wireless
DOUG PARR: Each onboard camera costs in the neighborhood of
$100,000. The cameras broadcast 700 lines of resolution, making
the clarity of the video comparable to a standard broadcast
camera. In '92, the cameras captured only 450 lines of
resolution, making the picture prone to static.
The '92 cameras had three different focal lengths, but changing
the point of view meant switching to an entirely different shot
before coming back to the onboard point of view. Look at the
onboard cameras then and now. There's very little similarity
other than they happen to shoot video.
JOHN MULLIN: There's recording devices everywhere you turn. Here
is another Elvis. This Elvis lives here specifically for in-car
cameras. That's all it's concerned about: Recording all of the
in-car cameras all the time.
So that's what gives you those great replays that we can come
back with even though you didn't see it happen live. Quite
frequently, we have it recorded on the Elvis.
Q. A lot of times the in-car camera will break up the picture
because of whatever reasons, going under a bridge, maybe bad
JOHN MULLIN: Yes. You know, it's a wireless device.
At some level, this becomes the innate ability of Doug Parr to
figure out that one little thing that he can do that will give
us the best possible picture. Right now it's overcast.
If we are able to keep the helicopter up, if it doesn't get too
low, if the ceiling doesn't get too low and we can keep it up, I
will do everything I can to give us the very best pictures
But because you're so low, your signal is retarded. What it
wants to see, what that transmitter wants to see, Mark, it wants
to see a big wide cone going up in the air and the helicopter up
there someplace. You bring that down, it becomes much more
focused and it's much more difficult to make it look good.
Particularly with a track like this which is spread out, so many
different pickup points you'd have to have. It will be a
I like to run my helicopter between five thousand and seven
Q. Do these cameras pan and zoom?
JOHN MULLIN: Yes. Not all of them, but some of them. Currently,
we only have a panning camera that is mounted below the rear
wing looking backward.
Each car can carry a couple different cameras, depending on the
team and what we have available. We have cockpit cams looking at
the drivers, shots underneath and away as well as forward
facing. Forward facing is the primary. Sometimes we can augment
that with a couple other points of view.
Q. Right. I've seen in NASCAR and even the IRL once in a while
they use a panning camera. Of course, NASCAR has a much bigger
place to put the camera in.
JOHN MULLIN: You'll have panning next year. The reason it wasn't
here this year is because of the change to the Panoz next year.
It's a construction issue. A structural issue.
Doug Parr was involved in the development of the new chassis
with the input, specifically with the onboard camera.
In-Car camera control room
JOHN MULLIN: So this is the control room for the in-car cameras. I'll
turn it over to Doug.
DOUG PARR: Basically everything is controlled by a computer, the
helicopter, the equipment on the cars. We can change frequencies. We can
adjust the audio. We have panning cameras. We can pan the cameras from
Basically all adjustments are remote by the cars on the racetrack.
That's all controlled by this one computer.
I've been working with Scot Elkins. We started back in January, working
on different camera placements on the car, including a new camera that
will pan 180 degrees on the roll hoop. We're still working on some of
the additional angles on the car right now.
We're also looking at possibly adding weighted camera dummies, so that
all the cars will be equal with regard to weight. If we want to run a
camera, we simply remove the dummy and put the real camera in. It
doesn't affect the weight, which keeps the teams happy. Something we're
hoping we can get finalized when the car gets signed off.
The new camera on top of the roll hoop will pan almost 180 degrees. You
can actually pan over and see the fuel guy when he puts the fuel in.
This is another upgrade we wanted to do for the new car.
The beauty of this new one, which makes the wing bigger, when we get
weather conditions where the helicopter can't fly where we need it to,
the transmit antenna that transmits the signal from the car to the
helicopter, instead of being mounted now through the side pod, shooting
through a little piece of fiberglass, it then can be mounted up here
which gives you a wider signal so the helicopter can fly lower and get
So places like Surfers Paradise, real strung out and only have to fly at
like five thousand feet, if we get weather conditions, it will improve
the pictures off the car.
Each camera unit runs off a lithium battery. These are extremely
lightweight. Right now the current system that runs on the Champ Cars,
total weight on it is right -- right at five pounds. These will run a
Champ Car system for about four hours.
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