Live Video Coverage from the GNCCs and More!
An Interview with Carey Bohn of Mainstream Media Group
April 19, 2013
By John Pellan
In case you haven't heard the extraordinary news, RacerTV.com will be airing live video coverage from each round of the GNCC Series!
This isn't a simple web cam running on the neighbor's wireless router. RacerTV is taking this quite serious. They'll be using modern-day television quality cameras and equipment, a complete on-site team to handle all the live coverage and they'll be utilizing a state-of-the-art satellite system to stream the content.
You'll be able to watch the first round of the 2013 GNCC series live on the Internet at 1pm EST on Sunday March 10. You can even participate live with a built in chat tool, which will also be used for future contests.
Once we heard the great news we had to get more info. Luckily I was fortunate enough to get an interview with veteran motorsports broadcast specialist, Carey Bohn, of Mainstream Media Group. Racer Production chose Carey to handle the live streaming production. He will also be responsible for the show programming, format, viewing platform and production infrastructure. Can you imagine how busy he must be?
So here you go, below is my conversation with Carey...
Congratulations on the new consulting gig Carey. I think it's a monumental day in the progression of our sport. Let's get this straight, we will be able to watch professional live video streaming from each round of the GNCC Series? And there's rumor that you guys will be doing the same thing for the Mountain Dew ATV MX Nationals, is this true?
We are going to start this year with just the Amsoil GNCC -- all 13 rounds, ATV and bikes -- and hopefully expand the live coverage next year to the Mountain Dew ATV Motocross National Championship. Fans will still be able to watch ATVMX coverage from all 10 rounds on RacerTV.com with a couple of episodes featured on NBC Sports.
I'm really excited to see this come to life in such a professional manner. ATV Scene has streamed live video and audio in the past, so I know firsthand all the challenges that go into it, and I'm especially appreciative for what you and Racer Productions are doing to further the sport. Before we go into the details, how did this media-fantasy actually come to be true?
While every fan and racer wants to see their favorite off-road racing sport on national television, the economics of producing and televising shows has gone through the roof. Sponsors and advertisers don't have the budgets anymore to support what it costs today to purchase the airtime from the networks, let alone produce a quality show. At the same time, the networks are producing more of their original programming, which then bumps TV shows produced by companies like Racer TV into fringe viewing hours when nobody's watching television. So in typical Carrie Jo Russell style, she said last November, "Let's do it ourselves! Let's create our own online broadcast network -- RacerTV.com -- and make it the 'go-to' destination for all forms of televised off-road racing … do our own live event coverage and let's get there first!" So we have been running with that ever since.
How did you land the gig and what are your responsibilities?
I've been producing shows ("ATV-24/7") and consulting for Racer TV the past three years for their NBC Sports shows. I've had some peripheral experience with live stream race coverage with ISOC's "Amsoil Championship Snocross Series," which introduced me to the many technical challenges streaming race events live entails. But honestly, this is a "learn on the fly" endeavor. The technology changes so quickly, I am lucky enough to have recruited some of the top live streaming professionals and companies in the world to make it happen. My responsibility is to develop the production infrastructure, show format and our viewer platform. Jeremy Saylor, Saylor Media, and Jason Hooper, Digital Offroad, are playing key roles on the team and we will be using technology and tech support from TodoCast TV from California and BoxxTV out of the UK.
How are you going to stream the content?
Racer TV has purchased a news truck-quality Satellite dish system, which will be deployed at every venue to tap into the internet from orbiting satellites. We needed to go this way because most at of the race locations you can hardly get cell service. So the live content that's captured from trackside cabled and remote cameras will be routed to our production trailer where it will be fed to the live show, encoded and sent back up to a satellite transponder. The live show will play on RacerTV.com on a separate viewer platform that can be accessed from the main menu.
What kind of video resolution are we talking?
We will be capturing video in 1080HD and after the encoding outputting the live show in a very high quality SD.
Can someone watch on a smart phone?
Yes -- all platforms, theoretically. Mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop -- even a good ol' TV.
Can you tell me more about the ability for viewers to participate with live chat?
Underneath the viewing platform (mock up seen on the left) will be a tabbed section where, after viewers sign in, they can write commentary and it will display in real time. We think this social aspect of the platform will be perfect for doing live contests and other activations for viewers and our sponsors. We also plan on incorporating a live timing and scoring crawl under the viewer.
Today's transponders enable Wi-Fi and GPS, with that you guys could include that data on a separate pop up where viewers could see riders traverse the course. Has this been discussed? Is this something we could see in the future?Anything is possible. We need to crawl first before we run though.
While I'm on my enthusiastic rant, here's my pitch to send to Carrie, Tim Cotter and the rest of the decision makers at RacerTV and Racer Productions. They should change the rule and allow (and encourage) rider-to-team communication as long as the team shared their frequency with your broadcasting team. How incredible would it be to include that kind of thing into the live stream?
Let's talk about that next year.
I'm curious about the team you're putting together. I'm sure you're still organizing and all the details aren't settled yet, but do you have an idea as to how many cameras will be used. Do you have a narrator, maybe a trackside correspondent like 9-time champ Traci Cecco getting live interviews during the race?
We will be using three to four stationary cameras that are cabled back to the production trailer and a new remote camera we are testing that we plan to move around the course. Rodney Tomblin will be narrating and hosting the show and we hope he has time to do live as well as in studio interviews. Jeremy Saylor will be our man at the switcher and board pop, directing what's fed into live show. Jason Hooper will be pre-producing some racer profiles and "educational" segments on the sport of GNCC racing. And I'm very happy to announce that Jen Kenyon has stepped up to do "stand-ups" for live remote coverage in the woods.
Jen is a fine choice for this. I think she'll do great. Tell us more about the possibility of a live remote camera.
At the first two rounds, we will be testing a brand new transmitting device from BoxxTV in the U.K. that attaches to the back of the remote camera. The transmitter encodes the video and audio and sends it via an ethernet cable to an antenna that's attached to the top of a 40-ft. pole. Using a system of other tree-top antennas and repeaters, our goal is to "bounce" the content back to the production trailer for broadcast. I say our goal because, as you know, almost all of the race courses are heavily wooded and we need a mostly unobstructed line-of-site from one antenna to the next. The good news is that Jeff Russell, who designs all the GNCC courses, has stepped forward to tweak his course designs to better accommodate our live streaming requirements.
Outstanding! I'm really impressed with what you just said Carey. This is yet another reason why I feel the GNCC Series is the best in the world. Every aspect of the event from building the tracks to broadcasting the race live on the Internet is well-thought out and executed by a staff that cares and works well together.
Yes, they sure know what they're doing..
Will the content be archived? I image you'll get some great footage, but most of the people at the event won't be able to see it.
Those that have satellite dishes on the top of their RVs will be able to watch it live. We hope to use a lot of it in the half-hour highlight episodes Jason Hooper produces for Racer TV. And yes, there are plans to make archived copies of the show also available on RacerTV.com
Are you guys looking for additional videographers, technicians, content producers? If so how would someone go about landing the job. I take it they should send a resume to you?
I would say, yes, we will be looking for new talent, especially content producers who can do a professional 1-2-minute racer profile that we can roll during the shows. Most of the money we're spending this year is going into technology, so what we might be able to use more immediately are volunteers or people looking for internship opportunities.
Is there a title sponsor lined up? Is that your territory as well? I take it there will be commercials to support this, correct?
Our series sponsors -- Amsoil, Can-Am and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC -- will each have commercial spots running in the live shows. The capable ad staff at Racer-X is heading up additional spots sales within the shows, as well as banner ads on the viewer platform. We're limiting the banner ads to just three and including a ton of value-added opps for advertisers, including fan contests and more.
Thank you so much for answering all my questions. I'm really excited to see this come to light like it has. Carrie and crew probably could have subbed this out to a company not even involved in our industry much less to a guy with so much past accomplishment in it. I think they got the right guy for the job and I think you're going really turn some heads with this thing. Congrats again! Any parting words?
Thanks, John. I would only ask fans and racers to temper their expectations out of the gate. We are wrestling with an abundance of new technology, forcing it to operate in harsh environments, and hoping like hell it will all mesh together to produce a quality show. We're not CBS Sports with their big production semis and hundreds of support staff. Give us some time to work the bugs out, hang with us, and enjoy the ride!
For more info click to racertv.com