FOX SPORTS’ Supercars coverage will have a fresh look in 2018 with a new graphics package set to roll out at this weekend’s Adelaide 500.
Changes have been made to the on-screen television graphics both when cars are on track and throughout the broadcast itself, with a modern edge replacing the retro-themed look adopted since 2015.
“There’s two elements, there’s the in-race graphics and then there’s the graphics around the race,” James Harrison, supervising producer of motorsport at FOX SPORTS, told foxsports.com.au.
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“Around the race, with the stings and the openers, the previous look was a bit of a tip of the hat to history; now we’re looking into the future.
“Cutting-edge technology is where the sport’s going to, so the opener has a very different look and the driver stings have a very hi-tech look.”
THE TOTEM GOES FULL-TIME
In-race, the most noticeable change is to the leaderboard totem which will now appear on-screen for almost the entire time that cars are on the track.
Along with each driver’s race position, finer details from live timing data have been worked in to help tell the story of the race beyond the picture on the screen at any given moment.
“The challenge in motorsport is that there’s so much happening on the track,” Harrison said.
“It’s not like a linear game where — like a play-the-ball in rugby league — what’s happening on camera is pretty much what’s happening. There’s 26 cars and they all have a different story happening across the track.
“You want to be able to tell that story, both what’s on screen with the car you’re looking at and through the totem, where data can pop up to tell different stories that marry up to the main story on-screen.”
Although the totem has been present in the Supercars coverage previously, the new version has been designed from the ground up taking cues from leaderboards in other motorsports coverage including Formula 1 and MotoGP.
“We’ve gone through quite an in-depth process on how that works for Supercars and how that can be adopted into the sport, which is quite unique to the other motorsports out there,” Erik Fazekas, lead designer at FOX SPORTS, told foxsports.com.au.
“It was quite an effort to get that working and put it into a grid system that will allow for other graphics to be put on air at the same time as this totem, which now lives on screen pretty much through the entirety of a race or a qualifying session, which is way different to what Supercars has done in the past.”
Part of that process was to record the live timing feed from the 2017 season finale at Newcastle to help identify what details could be used to add to the storytelling of a race and how to best display them.
Among the key changes are to the sector splits, which now mimic the purple/green/white colour scheme used trackside.
“The aim was to try and take that information, that so many people up and down pit lane rely on and watch, and we want to bring that into the home,” Harrison explained.
“Live timing is available to the viewers in the Race Centre on foxsports.com.au, but it’s how we bring all that data into a totem, into our lower frames, into a look that allows casual fans watching the television coverage to follow those extra layers of stories.
“It was an extensive process, a major challenge. Erik worked very hard to align our look with the separate data elements in that.
“When that rolls out, I think that’s going to blow people away.”
TREATING THE DRIVERS AS HEROES
The coverage around the on-track action will also adopt a new look as part of a company-wide refresh, bringing its motorsport coverage into line with satellite channels FOX League and FOX Footy.
“We’ve taken the opportunity to give everything a little bit of a ‘2.0’, get it as dynamic and as current as we possibly can,” Fazekas said.
A key part of that you may already have seen on social media: all 26 Supercars drivers came through FOX SPORTS’ Sydney HQ this month for various photography and videography, including vision captured in front of three large projection screens set up inside our main studio.
“The big thing is to ‘hero’ the drivers. That’s what we really wanted to do,” Harrison said.
“With other sports we’ve brought teams in and done this type of thing before, but this is the first time we’ve done it for motorsport, again aligning with the other top-tier sports.
“It was a big investment to do all this, but I think everyone will see from the outcomes on screen, even the teaser ones, that it looks really cool.
Fazekas added: “Besides your typical ‘driver looking straight down the camera’, we’ve done hero photography with each of the drivers where they’re exuding a little bit more personality.
“We’ve got them shot with their gloves and their helmet and so forth where they’re playing with the camera a little bit. They’ve got a few different postures, they smile, they gesture with their hands.
“What we’re trying to do there is basically showcase their personality so people at home can identify with who they’re looking at on an end-board or within a commercial, getting the drivers to interact with the camera so that people at home relate more to them.”
The new look will hit screens for the first time when FOX SPORTS’ Supercars coverage of the Adelaide 500 gets underway at 10:30am AEDT on Thursday.