This past U.S. Memorial Day Weekend, innoVia Productions had the opportunity to provide technical expertise and hardware to facilitate the video capture of the Indianapolis 500 auto race using new technology called Ultra Reality Viewing (URV) from NTT.

For those who are not motorsports fans, the Indianapolis 500, is an annual auto race that has been taking place for more than a century and is one of the largest sporting events in the world. Held at the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), it is a 500-mile race and has some of the most unique traditions in all sports such as the winners kissing the bricks at the finish line as well as the winner drinks milk instead of the more typical champagne. The event attracts millions of viewers each year, and this year’s event was no different. Although the a global pandemic was still at large, the event was still able to run thanks to the help of fans in being compliant with local health and safety guidelines and the hard work of everyone involved with the race in maintaining a safe and comfortable environment.

Technology

NTT’s new URV technology provides a very unique and engaging viewing experience by synthesizing multiple real-time 4K camera images into a high-definition super-wide 12K image that can be transmitted synchronously to remote locations. It uses super high-definition panoramic video that cannot be captured by conventional cameras and synchronizes it with immersive audio technologies that enable original sounds to be captured and transmitted to a remote location without delay or any loss of quality. Put simply, URV completely immerses remote viewers in the race by capturing small details from the movement of the cars themselves to the teamwork taking place all over the racetrack. This technology has the capacity to give audiences everywhere whole new event experiences because it is as if they were watching live in a stadium, on a field, or in a theatre.

URV’s fundamental framework is built on NTT’s unique R&D technology called “Kirari!”and has already been successfully implemented in Japan to enhance audience viewing and fan experiences, however, this year is the first time the technology has been applied to capture the high speed and complexity of auto racing. It is also the first time that the technology has been used in the United States with an all U.S.-based team.

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Logistics

Our team had a relatively short time between receiving the green light from the customer to race day. We managed to do a quick site survey at IMS to scout the camera positions for optimum placement and make sure we had the right space for the production team. The IMS staff was very accommodating, and we were able to secure 2 great camera positions, one at the famous finish line, “The Yard of Bricks”, and the second at Turn 1.

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The Race

Sunday, May 30, was a perfect day for racing with mild weather and very comfortable temperatures. However, with cars zooming over 220 miles an hour past our crews, good weather or not, having the cameras keep up was a bit difficult. But with preparation and an amazing crew, we were able to pull off a successful outcome capturing the race from many different angles.

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Working Around COVID-19

At the time of the event, this year’s Indianapolis 500 was the largest live event to be held since the beginning of the pandemic, even though only operating at 40% capacity. The event sold out weeks beforehand with approximately 135,000 fans in attendance eagerly and safely watching the thirty-three highly skilled drivers compete. As live events slowly open up, this year’s Indy 500 set a great precedent for how we can do it safely by following guidelines and protocols with great cooperation and teamwork.

Overall, the Indy 500 was the perfect event to be part of for working with the URV technology as it more than proved its ability to enrich the experience of viewers by capturing the race from multiple angles, layering on high-impact audio, and getting the best shots to replay again and again. The captured footage will be purposed to be utilized and viewed in a variety of ways with NTT and we at innoVia are proud to have played such a large part in making it happen.

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