If you love your Supercars, chances are you spend race weekends glued to the TV, but have you ever thought of what’s involved in the coverage? The answer is: a lot of work!
While technology has made much of the production process easier, it has also added to it in other ways, especially for the director who is literally ‘calling the shots’. For starters, there are so many more cameras.
The series is now shown on Fox Sports and Network Ten, with Foxtel subscribers getting a far better deal than those who only have access to free-to-air TV. Foxsports shows all practice, qualifying and race sessions live, while Ten viewers only get six events live. The rest are packaged and shown after the races have been run and won.
Anyone who is a fan of the sport certainly knows who is involved in front of the cameras: former racers Mark Skaife, Neil Crompton, Russell Ingall and Greg Murphy bring the depth of their racing expertise to the commentary team, backed up by TV professionals such as Greg Rust and Jessica Yates. Experienced pit reporter Riana Crehan is also part of the deal.
But it’s behind the scenes where things get complicated and interesting. Around 125 people are involved in producing the coverage for an ‘ordinary’ race meeting with more like 300 at Bathurst. That includes both fulltime staff employed by Supercars’ own TV production company as well as freelancers drafted in to help.
It includes the camera crews, producers, vision editors and all the staff involved in actually getting the coverage to air. Given that includes all the race statistics as they happen, as well as virtual reality technology, animation and clever graphics, it means a group of very talented people putting their heads together for many long hours to create the very polished finished product.
For the director, it’s a matter of making hundreds of snap decisions over every hour of coverage. He’s watching the output of in-car cameras from inside every car on the grid, plus the 10-15 cameras in action on an ‘ordinary’ race, 20-25 for the street races and around 35 for the enduros like Bathurst. That’s a lot of different cameras providing vision, but you can pretty much only have one shot on screen at a time.
Take a moment to let that sink in – the demands of Bathurst Sunday. While you may be cranky that the director has called – in your opinion – for the wrong shot to be put up on the screen, just think how many cameras there are to make decisions between!
Hardly a surprise, then, that the Supercars coverage has won more than six Logie awards for Most Outstanding Sports Coverage, an impressive achievement given it is usually up against other major events such as Test Cricket, the Football Grand Finals, the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the Australian Open and even the Tour De France.
When you consider the logistics involved in covering Australia’s favourite motorsport category, you’ll probably agree those Logies are well deserved by the team behind the scenes.