How Fox Sports Is Turning Your Favorite NASCAR Drivers Into Superheroes
When Fox Sports begins its live coverage of the new NASCAR season, its program design will incorporate graphics that will cast drivers as bigger-than-life superheroes.
NASCAR and other racing series provide an avalanche of data for television coverage.
During a typical race, elements of what viewers see on screen bounce between Fox locations in Charlotte, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and the mobile broadcast studio at the race site.
If you view your favorite race car driver as a superhero, you’re in luck.
So does Fox Sports.
When the network begins its live coverage of the new NASCAR season, its program design will incorporate graphics that will cast drivers as bigger-than-life superheroes, similar to the effect Fox has used in broadcasting other sports.
The “comic book” look is part of a new graphic design that will change the screen “face” of NASCAR broadcasts on Fox, which will broadcast the first half of the season.
“It’s going to be a dramatically different look for the viewer,” said Zac Fields, Fox Sports senior vice president of Graphic Tech and Integration. “The new look capitalizes on some of the themes we’ve used across other sports. We’ll be using action shots of drivers in a comic book style drawing as part of the theme. Our NASCAR look has evolved from that process. It’s about how we elevate these drivers and athletes to be in this superhero model.”
The television screen is a playground for the graphics wizards who put together the display that frames coverage of sports events. NASCAR and other racing series provide an avalanche of data for television coverage; it’s up to network producers and directors to determine how much to use, when to use it and how to present it graphically.
Fields said the Fox Sports graphic designers spent much of the past year working on the displays that viewers will see this year.
“During NASCAR races, every single car has hundreds of data points every second—position on track, level of throttle, level of brake, RPM, MPH and so on,” Fields said. “All this is captured in real time, and it goes into a database that is accessible by us. Our job is to populate the real-time graphics with data.”
A key element is the so-called pylon, the graphic strip that includes the race’s running order and other key information. The pylon, and other areas on the screen, can be used to display a variety of information found in graphic “shells” built by the network’s designers.
“The goal is to provide as much dynamic data as possible,” Fields said.
During a typical race, elements of what viewers see on screen bounce between Fox locations in Charlotte, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and the mobile broadcast studio (also known as “the truck”) at the race site.
With so much information available on every lap and race positions changing by the second, program directors are constantly making choices to display this and ignore that.
“It’s always a balance on how you decide what to use and how not to overdo it,” Fields said. “A lot of that comes with the years of experience in broadcasting NASCAR and knowing what works and what doesn’t, but we’re also trying to push the envelope with everything.”