Telestream Replay System Plays Key Role in NASCAR Chase

As the NASCAR season enters the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR will rely heavily on a new high definition video replay system developed by Telestream.

The replay system, which won the prestigious IBC2012 Innovation Award, gives officials in Race Control and the infield Competition Director instant access to 18 on-track HD camera angles. The system allows NASCAR to view the action as it is occurs and review on track incidents from any camera angle in HD.

“The instant replay system that Telestream has provided NASCAR this season has enabled our officials to perform their jobs in an even more efficient and time-sensitive manner,”  said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition.  “Having instant access to that many camera angles featuring such high-quality video has been a terrific addition to our race weekends.”

The new replay system has been used at every Sprint Cup weekend since it was introduced at Daytona in February and will continue to play a key role leading up to the finale at Homestead, FL in November.

NASCAR has used video replay within Race Control for nearly a decade. The original replay system was MPEG-1-based and built using PCs and capture cards. The video was of low quality compared to today’s high-definition broadcast-quality feeds. Moreover, the ability to search through a timeline for pertinent incidents was rather limited and time consuming, requiring a highly-skilled operator to be able to keep up with all the video feeds.

In mid-2011 NASCAR decided it needed a new, high-definition video capture and replay system with better browsing capability and enough storage to record an entire weekend of NASCAR action, including up to three races at a single venue: the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

The system had to be compact and rugged enough to fit into a small section of one of NASCAR’s mobile production trucks that travel to each venue. It also had to have multi-user IP connectivity so that in addition to the race control suite, NASCAR officials could concurrently access the system from various locations. Another requirement was the ability for the footage to be easily transferred to portable media devices for other applications, including review by race teams or repurposing by NASCAR at its file-based production facility in Charlotte, N.C.

Telestream developed the new race control replay system based on its Pipeline HD hardware-based encoder and a new high-performance multi-clip player application. Pipeline captures HD-SDI video from live camera feeds and encodes them in real time to Apple ProRes 422 mezzanine compression format.

The new Replay application allows NASCAR officials to review an entire event’s timeline from any combination of camera angles. Replay application synchronizes all 18 HD camera feeds so that race officials can pick any point in time during a race weekend and get an accurate picture of what was happening on each section of the track.

While each camera feed delivered frame-accurate information to the Pipeline encoder, the challenge was building a player that guaranteed that each frame was 100% synchronous to the other. Every frame is stamped with timecode when it comes out of the Pipeline system, and Replay makes sure that each frame from each camera angle is synchronously displayed to the user.

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