Monday, February 02, 2009

It's your turn to direct NASCAR on TV

I watched the Super Bowl telecast Sunday with a different perspective than a lot of folks because I am sort of related to somebody who was in the NBC production truck.
Drew Esocoff, the unbelievably talented director of "Sunday Night Football," was directing the show Sunday and I thought he did another remarkable job. Drew is married to my wife's cousin Katrina, so maybe I am a hair prejudiced. But this is the guy who also did the swimming at this summer's Olympics in Beijing. This guy does not play around.
The cool thing about Sunday's broadcast, I thought, was that NBC had all of the critical replays from all of the angles necessary for the officials -- and America -- to see that most of those crucial calls wound up being made properly.
That sparked a discussion on Sirius NASCAR Radio this morning about what kind of innovations you see in other sports on television that you would like to see done for NASCAR broadcasts. Two suggestions really sounded good to me.
The first stems from the 360-degree technology that's now being used on football telecasts. During a play, the action can be stopped and the viewer can see what's happening from every angle around the player or point on the field that's involved. A caller pointed out just how cool that would be to show during or in the immediate aftermath of a crash during a stock-car race. I agree with that.
The second suggestion involved pit stops. Television will do a three-shot of three different cars making pit stops at various points on pit road. But since one car gets to pit road before the others, it's hard to compare how the pit stops stack up head to head. The caller on the radio show today said he would like to see pit stops replayed in sync -- from the moment each car stops in its pit stall -- and replayed side-by-side so he can see which crew gets around the car first or does the best job getting to the car when the pit stop begins. I also think that's a good idea.
What different things would you like to see? Now don't say no commercials, because that won't happen in the real world. But is there something you've seen you'd like to see more of, or something you've seen that you'd like to see less of?


Anonymous said...

The TV coverage has always been good compared to other sports, however, as far as seeing more or less of something? How about less, much less of the COT and much more of something that will actually race good? Maybe they should really shake things up and let the Cup series start running the trucks, at least they all race much better. I have been a nascar fan for years, but the quality of racing with the COT has just about done me in.

Anonymous said...

How about starting races at noon and 1 p.m. Eastern. Nah they won't do that, they might get the audience back.

Anonymous said...

With all the new teams/drivers/numbers this season, I hope they do a better job of identyfing the cars in a wreck. It was easy to find the 24 or the 20, but with all the new paint schemes, we'll need a lot of help.

With so many one-car teams, I hope they will show more of the filed and not just the top 10-15 plus Joey Logano. I'm going to be curious to see if Tommy's car is making it, also the Labontes, etc.

Anonymous said...

During the Chase, they put the names of the chase drivers in a different color. Maybe for this season start, they can put all the new teams (15), in a different color so we can gage how this new experiment it going.

Richard Ginn said...

I like the two ideas that have been listed by David.

Some earlier start times would be nice.

I also like the idea of giving new teams a different color.

Anonymous said...

Is HMS,RCR,JGR,Tony Stewart and the sactioning body related to Katrina also?That would explain that teey weeny hair of predjudice you have for the above.

Joe said...

What would I like to see? How about a race that is at least half as exciting as that damn football game was!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see more coverage of each and every car during the first 5 races of this Cup season. Let's give these guys who run in the back half of the running order a chance to get some air time and maybe some additional sponsor money to run more races this season. I'd also like to see more pit road action (not just a select 3 cars each time). I'd like to see less of Digger, Kenny Wallace, Jimmy Spencer and absolutely none of Rutledge.

Joe said...

I'd like to see more wide shots and less coverage from the bumper cam and speed shots.

Yes, the speed shots and in car cameras are great to capture the essence of speed. But for critical moments, it would better to see passes made from traditional wider shots.

Fox needs to lay off the digger angle too (other than the crank it up segments they do).

And I also agree with Anon #2, earlier start times would be great.

Anonymous said...

The telecasts should be about the race, not the announcers and all of the extra things that have become part of the broadcasts. If there is a good race for position, whether it be for 1st or 20th, show it. There are 43 cars in the race and all should get some type of coverage during the event. Watching Jimmie Johnson drive around in front and talking about Junior all day is not covering the event at all. Every year I miss ESPN's coverage with Bob Jenkins even more. A booth with Alan Bestwick doing play by play, along with Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty would provide much more actual coverage than listening to Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Andy Petree, and everyone else ramble on about nothing all day. No more boogity, boogity, boogity, the Digger cam, and all of the other nonsense. And for God's sake, don't start talking about the chase on the first lap of the first race of the year. The racing has become so bad and the chances of someone winning outside of Hendrick, Roush, and Gibbs, all focus should be on playing up what is going on on the race track and not with the all of the self promotion of the broadcast crew. But in the end of the racing doesn't get better, people will keep turning it off.

SallyB said...

Covering pit stops from start to finish with a stopwatch on each car used to be SOP. That way it didn't matter where they stopped on pit road, you knew now long each stop was. I would love to see more than just the top 10 or 15 cars featured during a race. I get tired of seeing single cars running by themselves (ususally at the front of the field) and have all the talking heads refer to that as racing. All those bumper cams make you lose perspective on the race as a whole and make things confusing. Maybe more time spent showing racing on the track rather than a multitude of talking heads would help. If ANY car retires or has trouble, I want to know about it right away, not as an afterthought several laps later. I'm sure all the networks are capable of giving excellent coverage...they've just gotten lost along the way somehow.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Holleracha said...

Fubal?? Baa!! "Lets go racin' boys!" The one thing I did notice is how much better the High Def picture was than the usual NBC broadcasts. Was that just my imagination? I wish they would go back to showing a repeat after midnight so I could enjoy the beautiful summer day and still see the race. Same for Sat. nite races so I can go to my local track.

Holleracha said...

Btw We ought to feel lucky to have someone with the expertice of Larry Mac contributing to the racing experience!!

Anonymous said...

Really nothing we say or want will get nascars attention. What do we know about racing? Nascar doesnt give a nascrap what the fans want. Thanks for trying Dave.

Anonymous said...

I am so against starting the races any ealier. As a matter of fact, I wish they were all at night.

Anonymous said...

Comentators who describe the events of the race who,are not trying out for the comedy channel, using voice overs..We tune to see the cars, track ect not the talking heads..people who call the races who are not related to team members, owner, or drivers & especially who have vested interested in a team or manufacter. How can they be unbiased??? I like the idea of not following one car all the time like JR running 25th all by himself a total noncontender while some unknown is having a great day. All of the useless extra cameras (digger, Shock camera,belt camera on the concession stand worker) totally not racing.....
I too miss the days of ESPN and Bob Jenkins, when commentators stayed on course and covered the race... The Fox Formula 1 crew could teach the Fox Nascar crew a few lessons on how to do that...

Mike said...

LESS clutter on my TV screen. !!!Please!!! During the Olympics,football and lots of other sports. I noticed I could see a whole world on my TV. Race coverage was only showing me a peep hole. There is away to get all your info across and not block up my whole screen. Less is More. Help us see the race....

clay said...

ALWAYS show the reason for the caution, especially the ones that are suspiciously timed to bunch the crowd back up, let a "star" get the lucky dog, etc
SHOW us the supposedly un-failable radar gun speed traps that can get one driver on pit road, who just got outrun on pit road by , again, a "star"

Racing News Digest said...

I think the ideas you wrote about are great ideas.

And I have to say that I agree with Clay. No matter the debris. A lot of times it's the TV that finds the debris.

Of course that does not mean that we don't trust NASCAR....cough cough!

Anonymous said...

I think we should hear from...the drivers. I know they used to interview every driver after a wreck or blown motor, but we are seeing less and less. I mean after the Big One, can we hear from more than just the CHasers? How about the guy who was running 10th at the time, but isn't in the Chase? I want to hear from everyone, not just the 'select few'.

Anonymous said...

More coverage of the restarts. Specifically what goes on among the drivers. There is quite a bit of discussion on the strategy of a restart but focus on the 2 or 3 top cars to see what each is doing.

Anonymous said...

How about if NASCAR takes a page from the NFL and gives the fans an accurate starting time for every race? An NFL fan knows that kickoff occurs at 1pm Eastern, and can time his activities in order to miss the pre-game show and watch the game. I used to watch every race from start to finish, but I don't care to watch an endless pre-race show. I got tired of trying to guess when the race begins, so now I only watch a handful of races per season. NASCAR is treating fans like fools, assuming we have nothing better to do than to watch pre-race festivities all day. Hey NASCAR, tell me when the race begins and I'll be in front of the TV when it starts.

Anonymous said...

1. Do the commentators always have to ask the same stupid questions, we all know they want to win the championship already?
2. Can we watch the battle for 15th place between 3 or 4 cars instead of the leader hitting his marks every single lap?
3. Can we talk about the guy who went to the garage area during the commercial break, he may have been running 35th but he has 10,000 racefans sitting at home wondering where he went.
4. Do we all need a lesson in race car setups? I don't want to see a cutaway of the racecar, with someone showing me a nut and washer, I'll watch shadetree mechanic on Saturday afternoon, I want to see the race.

Anonymous said...

1. Do the commentators always have to ask the same stupid questions, we all know they want to win the championship already?
2. Can we watch the battle for 15th place between 3 or 4 cars instead of the leader hitting his marks every single lap?
3. Can we talk about the guy who went to the garage area during the commercial break, he may have been running 35th but he has 10,000 racefans sitting at home wondering where he went.
4. Do we all need a lesson in race car setups? I don't want to see a cutaway of the racecar, with someone showing me a nut and washer, I'll watch shadetree mechanic on Saturday afternoon, I tuned in to watch the race.

Richard Ginn said...

What ESPN should have done after the end of the 2008 season was over was to have NASCAR Now on once a week.

So many crazy things occurred during the off season this time a whole show was needed to talk about it.

Anonymous said...

LESS prerace coverage MORE post race coverage ie interviews with more drivers.

Monkeesfan said...

Some track-specific changes I'd like to see:

* More lower-angle grandstand roof shots like DirectTV had at Talladega for its in-car special package, especially the angle exiting the trioval.

* Bring back the Turn One high tower shot looking straight up the western short chute at Daytona. CBS always used that angle; FOX and NBC have always ignored it.

* Bring back the infield tower shot exiting Turn Two at both Daytona and Talladega.

* Drop the sky-high tower shot looking up the backstretch that FOX and ESPN always use at most tracks. It's good for wide-angle replays but not lap-by-lap coverage; it's way too high.

* Put in a low-angle tower shot entering Turn One at Atlanta, Texas, and Charlotte. The Turn One grandstand shot they always use is too high.

Anonymous said...

First, physics says that velocity is change in distance/time. If the camera is zoomed so close to the cars that you can see the distance they are moving, you do not get the feeling of speed. So they need to have more speed shots where the camera doesn't move or zoom, but still can see a single car for more than a split second.

Second, get rid of the horizontal scrolls. They take up too much space and are useless because I always get distracted by the racing before they get 1/4 of the way through the field. ESPN in the 90's had it right with the vertical scroll on the left side of the screen. They could show 15-20 positions on the screen at once with intervals or lap times. I had to get Trackpass so I could tell where anybody was running.

Finally, speak in terms of lap times rather than average speed. Telling me the speed is useless when comparing two cars. If I know the times, I can tell exactly how the interval is changing.

Kevin said...

It would probably be a little more difficult to implement, but I'd like to see a line on the track during qualifying that shows the pace of the current polesitter (like NBC did with the world record in swimming at the olympics). It would give the viewer a real time idea of how close qualifying really is without all the clutter that has become popular. (I'm looking you, ESPN)

Anonymous said...

Less Talking Heads in the booth.
Four hours of continuous Jibby-Jab makes me turn the sound off everything.
That's the commercials TOO!

Anonymous said...

Xquzzme (Jim in GA) What I would love to see, so I can quit screaming at the TV, is coverage of the cars that are RACING each other. Bothers hell out of me to watch the leader, lap after lap, when he has a 5 second lead on the feild. There are 42 others out there mixing it up, and I'd kinda like to watch that. Not to mention, their sponsors could use air time too, and maybe more sponsors would shake loose some coins if they knew they didn't have to have a car running in the top 3 spots every week to get air time. What do yu think??

Anonymous said...

There was a thought from an earlier article about making the leaders double up on restarts and the cars 1 or more laps down line up behind them to race for lucky dog. Earlier start times. Less pre-race fluff. No digger. Better announcing.

Anonymous said...

More actual racing, no matter how far back it is in the field. Less gopher shots, less D Waltrip, and absolutely no boogity.

Anonymous said...

I just read the lineup for the Bud Shootout. What a joke. This new format has totally devaluated the race. I'd put the format back to the way it was... include only drivers who have actually accomplished something! That's what I'd like to see.

Anonymous said...

He's already said it this year but if Chris Meyers says 'we kid because we care' one more time I might blow my brains out!

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