Extreme E, the new electric off-road racing series, has enlisted a host of broadcast partners including NEP Group, a leading technical production partner for producers of live sports and entertainment, which will provide the technology, expertise and global network to deliver the most innovative and sustainable broadcast production.
Together, NEP, Aurora Media Worldwide, North One and Extreme E have spent 18 months designing a technical solution that reaches the most remote locations whilst reducing the environmental impact across the entire production.
The innovation and expertise within NEP have brought about a full end-to-end solution which will include, flypack, remote production, crewing, satellite and fibre connectivity, edit, ingest, AR, GFX, display and projection, and specialist cameras including RF.
The system design and build is under the direction of Donald Begg, NEP’s Director of Technology for Major Events, who is overseeing the realisation amid the challenges of both COVID-19 restrictions and the unique requirements of where and how the equipment will be used.
The specialised flypack, designed to survive extreme temperatures and conditions, will be connected back into NEP’s new ‘UHD ready’ centralised Broadcast and Media Centre, which is located at 200 Gray’s Inn Road, London. The production will make use of the centre’s extensive connectivity, remote production galleries, remote replay, Edit and Live Centre monitoring, all currently being built at the London location.
NEP’s Netherlands based team in Hilversum has also developed new AR tools for drone tracking and in-car GFX, along with the innovative use of RF technologies to work around environments where cable runs have to be limited but still need to achieve maximum and resilient coverage from the cars. Avoiding either fixed-wing or helicopter RF solutions to remove some of the environmental impact, the company has achieved a ground-based system of remote IP RF links and clever integration of the coverage systems to maximise the number of feeds.
Combined with advanced drone technology, the AR GFX teams have worked with Extreme E, Aurora and North One to develop live mapping and overlays of the diverse course from the drones providing the viewer with a whole new experience in race time GFX AR overlays.
A significant challenge on this project was to design systems for deployment with limited crew numbers permitted on site. With NEP’s solutions, it has designed workflows and a system to support this smaller-sized team – all crew members are working as one team, supporting each other across disciplines from video to audio to cameras to rigging.
Simon Moorhead, Managing Director of NEP UK Broadcast Services, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with the Aurora team on the Extreme E racing series and having the opportunity to develop an integrated set of solutions to support these unique events. Between designing for COVID restrictions and being mindful of our impact to the environment, we needed to create a workflow that connected limited production crew and equipment on site to remote production hubs while shooting from some of the world’s most remote and difficult locations. All of our teams came together to meet these challenges head on.”
Steve Jenkins, President for NEP UK & Ireland, commented: “It’s fantastic to be working with Aurora and Extreme E on such an exciting programme of events. We all must look at how we can work differently and make real changes to reduce our environmental impact. I am proud of how at NEP we are using expertise, talent and our centralised resources from across the entire global organisation to innovate and deliver for our clients for projects like this and where the use of remote has accelerated through the pandemic.”
And this technology has recently been put to the test at the ex RAF Bentwaters airfield in Ipswich alongside Extreme E’s other broadcast suppliers including Motorsport Communications experts MRTC and Specialist Timing, Telemetry and Networks company, Al Kamel Systems.
Dave Adey, Head of Broadcast & Technology at Extreme E, said: “After spending months working on these innovative broadcast solutions, many of which have never been used before, it has been great to see them all put into action at our recent test. We are travelling to such remote locations with Extreme E, which means there will be no second chance when we get to site, so this test has proved essential, and seeing all the hard work in real life has been very gratifying. We can’t wait to go racing later this year and show the world Extreme E through one of the most innovative productions I’ve ever worked on.”
The five-event calendar starts in March 2021 in Saudi Arabia, before moving to Senegal in May, Greenland in August, Brazil in October and Patagonia in December.