Extreme E Racing Series

NEP Brings Extreme E to the Next Level

NEP UK, NEP the Netherlands, NEP Connect
Aurora Media Worldwide and Extreme E
Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Greenland, Italy

In late 2018, Extreme E Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag met with motor racing legend, and good friend, Gil de Ferran for breakfast. ​Over coffee, the pair dreamt up the idea of a spectacular, captivating, narrative-driven adventure ready to tell the story of the effects of climate change and human activity on stunning, remote locations around the globe (Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Greenland, Brazil and Patagonia) through world-class sport.​

“We bring electric racing to some of the most remote corners of the planet to highlight the climate change challenges faced by different ecosystems, whilst showcasing the performance of all-electric SUVs in extreme conditions”

What's The Challenge

n order to realize Alejandro Agag his dream Aurora Media Worldwide produces a series of television programs featuring the Extreme E races. This all-electric off-road racing series is designed to bring attention to climate change, the use of sustainable, all-electric vehicles, and provide audiences with a spectacular event.  ​

But how do you produce this type of racing series throughout the year highlighting some of the world’s most remote locations and harshest environments, including Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Greenland, Brazil and Patagonia. With no technical infrastructure, fast racing SUV’s in rough environments and the required worldwide distribution in 180 countries. All LIVE! ​

How We Did It

In order to overcome these enormous challenges and to capture, enrich and broadcast these unique racing series Aurora Media teamed up with NEP as their media technology partner. The production was led by London headquartered Aurora Media Worldwide in collaboration with North One, who approached NEP’s team in the UK for a broadcast solution.​

NEP worked with Aurora to create a complete end-to-end, sustainable solution that would work for all five races that included a custom IP flypack, remote production solutions, crewing, satellite and fiber connectivity, edit, and ingest solutions. Additionally, to help bring the races to life, NEP’s team in the UK reached out to their colleagues in The Netherlands to create a cutting-edge AR and Graphics solution.

Aurora Media was able to realize their dream of creating a  spectacular tv show that blends sustainability with the latest innovations in broadcast technology, like: drone cameras, a graphics package including augmented reality overlays, and use of a new production centre in London connected to NEP’s centralized production platform. ​

Their partnership with NEP also included hours and hours of engineering, technical prowess and creative craftsmanship completed by teams within both companies. It was a truly astonishing end-to-end solution, from the first image captured by a camera, to the high end delivery to viewers at homes around the globe. The innovative technology solutions created to cover this distinctive racing series allow the viewer to feel as if they are right there inside the vehicle with the driver riding along the race course. In a unique and never-seen-before approach NEP is helping Extreme E  - the electric off-road racing series - to raise awareness about the effects of climate change.

On Site Capture

Considering the sustainability goals, COVID restrictions, and challenging remote race locations, reducing the number of staff traveling to site was critical in NEP’s system design. NEP built a custom IP flypack custom for Extreme E that meets the technical requirements and can stand up to the harsh environments on-site at the races. They were able to connect each race location directly to their new “UHD ready” centralized production facility in London, via satellite, routing all of the signals through their teleport at MediaCityUK in Salford.  ​

On-site, the team operated out of eight tents that comprised master control, engineering, production, sound/graphics, a production office, an RF/UAV workshop, Cameras and storage. This allowed for social distancing among the limited crew on site.​

Coverage of the excitement on the track was all handled by RF.  NEP deployed ten operated cameras and ten POV cameras around the track. Additionally, they utilized three cutting-edge drone cameras outfitted with the Mini TX UHD, the world’s smallest low-latency UHD wireless transmitter, developed entirely in-house by NEP’s BSI team. They also made use of RF car on-board cameras. NEP had seven more remote PTZ cameras in the command centre and race control that were connected via fibre.

All audio around the track used RF as well. To handle audio mix for the race, and to QC all audio sources heading back to the production centre in London, NEP made use of a Calrec Summa digital audio console on-site. ​

For event communications, intercom and car telemetry data, NEP connected with Alkamel and MRTC. ​

To accomplish all of this, NEP needed only a total of only 23 crew on site. Their solution was able to greatly reduce the number of crew traveling to site, helping to limit the carbon footprint of the production and make social distancing easier. ​

NEP also deployed their new proprietary broadcast control and monitoring system, both on-site and in their production centre in London. This system works to streamline and speed up the configuration and connection of facilities. It also works towards bringing existing and future technologies and systems together – including NEP’s mobile units, flypacks, studios and centralized production facilities across the globe – under one unified, technology-agnostic platform.

Inside the London Production Center during Extreme E

Production Center UK

With sources transmitted live from location to NEP’s brand new production facility in London, the team in the UK handled all of the record, replay, edit, audio mixing, vision mixing and playout. They were also connected, real-time, to their facility in Hilversum where NEP’s team in The Netherlands handled the AR and Graphics solution.​

In London, a total of ten NEP staff and 24 staff from Aurora Media Worldwide completed the production. The facility in London was designed and built to be entirely flexible, able to be configured and used as needed for any production.​

For Extreme E, the team used:​

  • One large production control room - a spacious three-tier production gallery​
  • One sound control room​
  • One multi-functional space that was configured for record and replay​
  • One multi-functional space that was configured as a four-person commentary room​
  • Five flexible control rooms that were used as edit suites and for social media management​
  • One meeting space used as a production office

In addition to the team from Aurora Media, ITV was also making use of NEP’s production centre in London for their Extreme E transmissions, including:​

  • One small production control room that also housed sound control and record and replay​
  • One flexible room for continuity announcements​
  • One meeting room used as a production office

All signals arrived from site to NEP’s teleport facility in Salford, where they were QCed, continually monitored and sent real-time to the facility in London.  Using their proprietary broadcast control and monitoring system, NEP was able to route, monitor and QC all signals in the production center.

Live Augmented Reality

Together with Aurora Media’s creatives, the NEP graphics team developed concepts which were split up in ‘scenes’ from scratch. Over the course of a year the team worked remotely with over fifteen talents and professionals at full speed and have entirely created a new concept together. ​

​One of the bigger challenges was how to process all the data in the AR and virtual environment. The main challenge was to get it working perfectly and steadily in a way never done before. The result has a ‘gamey look and feel’, in combination with positional data that is generated from a third party point cloud that surveyed the area in advance, in combination with live GPS data from the Extreme-E cars driving on-site. All that data was imported and translated to this virtual world, which was enriched with race analyses.​

All graphics that can improve the experience of the viewer, are processed completely by NEP. Inside information that the driver him/herself doesn’t see, enriched drone footage, a 3D ‘animation explainer’ of the car, a ‘HiT (Human interface Tracking) system’ that follows the driver, the race fans are really drawn into the races. NEP’s 3D  and Technical Artists built a virtual 3D world based on the race locations and the cars GPS-data plus car Telemetry information which is provided by Al kamel Systems. ​

This gave the director the opportunity to switch live during the race to the virtual world, flown by a live virtual drone pilot to enhance the story. Especially with this Extreme-E event where things can change very last minute, NEP had to build a dynamic system that could take these changes into account. If for example the race officials changed a gate or hazard on the course, NEP was able to change that in the virtual world instantly during a live production day, by using a dynamic input file in which we collaborate together with Extreme-E and Aurora Media. From design, technical implementation and controlling all the broadcast graphics with the Cube interface, NEP provided a cutting-edge AR and Graphics solution.

All graphics that can improve the experience of the viewer, are processed completely by NEP. Inside information that the driver him/herself doesn’t see, enriched drone footage, a 3D ‘animation explainer’ of the car, a ‘HiT (Human interface Tracking) system’ that follows the driver, the race fans are really drawn into the races. NEP’s 3D  and Technical Artists built a virtual 3D world based on the race locations and the cars GPS-data plus car Telemetry information which is provided by Al kamel Systems. ​

This gave the director the opportunity to switch live during the race to the virtual world, flown by a live virtual drone pilot to enhance the story. Especially with this Extreme-E event where things can change very last minute, NEP had to build a dynamic system that could take these changes into account. If for example the race officials changed a gate or hazard on the course, NEP was able to change that in the virtual world instantly during a live production day, by using a dynamic input file in which we collaborate together with Extreme-E and Aurora Media. From design, technical implementation and controlling all the broadcast graphics with the Cube interface, NEP provided a cutting-edge AR and Graphics solution.

NEP Cube

With the ever increasing amount of different systems and devices being used simultaneously in productions, a challenge in operating and controlling these became apparent. To mitigate this and the added challenge of each production having its own type of combination of systems and devices, NEP took it upon itself to develop NEP Cube; a central control application that connects to many devices and systems and allows for custom logic.​

In the case of Extreme-E, NEP Cube took on the role of being the central component for controlling all visual engines and data streams that drive the full virtual environment;​

  • Live real world data can trigger events in the virtual world or take on a visualized form in 3D;
  • Show-control protocols such as ArtNet (DMX) and OSC can control virtual elements to mimic their real-world counterparts; for example control of virtual lighting and virtual cameras;​
  • Custom logic that is specific to this event is realized through scripting inside Cube; allowing users to build mechanisms for automated data transformation and a custom graphical user interface.

​NEP Cube opens the complete toolbox of the virtual production world to the graphics operator in a simplified way. This product has been used for several years and is unique to the market. It provides full flexibility for the director and graphics operator and enables them to make last minute changes to the virtual environment. Precise run-downs of the show are created during the rehearsals phases so the situation can be accurately recreated during all live takes.

What Our Clients Say

Lawrence Duffy, Managing Director, Aurora Media Worldwide says,​ “It was so rewarding to see all of the team’s hard work, dedication and ingenuity come to life this past weekend. It was such a tremendous partnership between all of us – Extreme E, Aurora, North One and NEP – and it has really paid off. This is exactly what we wanted to achieve: a great marriage of sustainability and cutting-edge technology all coming together to create a really exciting production. We can’t wait for the next race.”​

“Extreme E is a truly world-class event that is highlighting one of the most important challenges facing our planet and bringing it to a new audience in a really innovative way. It has been a thrill to see the solution that NEP, Aurora, North One and Extreme E have created come to life,” says Brian Clark, Director of Sales for NEP Major Events. “What we have created is not only at the very cutting edge of technology, but it also delivers from some of the world’s harshest environments – all during COVID. There were certainly a lot of challenges to overcome, but the result is just fantastic.”

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