DirecTV NASCAR HotPass accelerates to HD via NEP, Sony and Vizrt

By Ken Kerschbaumer

When DirecTV expanded its HD channel capacity last September it did more than just open up enough bandwidth for regional HD sports networks to go national: it also laid the groundwork for DirecTV’s NASCAR HotPass to make the leap to HD for the upcoming season. “Last year we just wanted to prove we could do it and now we want to do it much better than last year,” says Chris Long, DirecTV SVP of sports production.

The subscription service delivers subscribers a package of five channels that include driver channels with a behind-the-wheel view of the race as well as camera views from pit row and real-time stats and audio.

Long says that new 16:9 graphics created by graphics design house Reality Check (the company behind many network sports graphics packages) and powered by Vizrt will greatly improve the look of HotPass. “It rivals the network graphics package [for NASCAR],” adds Long.

In-car HD camera feeds, four new Sony HD RF cameras on pit row and two HD high robotic cameras placed on the left and right of the pit box will capture the action. All signals will then pass into a new NEP HD production unit. The signals will be recorded on four HD EVS LVS systems so that race channel producers in four separate production booths can mix the racer channels. “We’ve taken the audio personnel and moved them into their own audio truck with four audio booths,” adds Long. Each channel will be mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound.

“This is the type of service where HD is very important,” explains Long. “There are uber fans that notice how crisp the picture is.”

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