NASCAR Speedweeks kicks off this week as the crème de la crème in motorsports takes to the Daytona National Speedway in Florida to compete in a series of races leading up to the Daytona 500. In less than 12 days, an estimated 250,000 NASCAR fans will gather in the stands of the world-famous track to cheer on their favorite drivers in the Great American Race, and we’re excited to see who will cruise their way into the victory lane. All of the Speedweeks festivities bring back memories of our work with DIRECTV’s NASCAR “HotPass” about ten years ago.
This time in 2007, we were gearing up to launch a new state-of-the-art production workflow for “HotPass,” a DIRECTV service that allowed audiences to switch between channels showing multiple driver viewpoints (channels 790 to 799); a “mix” channel also showcased mini-views of all the drivers at once. Every “HotPass” channel included a live nationwide race broadcast – whether FOX, TNT or ESPN – and a view of the race from a driver’s in-car camera, unedited communications between the driver, crew chief and spotter, as well as telemetry illustrating the car’s speed and horsepower. The service hit TV sets in the U.S., Canada, South America and the Caribbean February 18, 2007 – the same day that Kevin Harvick took home the Daytona 500 title.
RCS was responsible for developing and updating the production workflow for the service for more than four years, and our pipeline evolved rapidly with technological and industry shifts, including the transition from SD to HD in 2008. We were responsible for designing and developing all the graphics, writing custom control software, interfacing all the elements and more. We wrote front end software to facilitate easier control over the graphics hardware, live video, graphics and real-time data, and then integrated it into DIRECTV’s OB truck, which included five pods for each channel. An RCS producer was on the road to assist the Director/TD and audio pro for every race, and we staffed the entire technology crew for every remote race. In 2009, our team also assisted with DIRECTV’s move into its new Los Angeles Broadcast Center (LABC), and the project marked the very first use case of our UpperCut touchscreen UI.
Though “HotPass” came to an end in 2013, we’ve continued our relationship with AT&T DIRECTV, providing graphics production across other programming – continually pushing the needle forward in terms of what’s possible with modern technology and real-time visuals. The memories we’ve made, relationships we’ve built and lessons we’ve learned along the way are a highlight of our 20 years in business and have been invaluable. We look forward to many more years of working with them as we continue to grow and expand.