DIRECTV’s new "Hot Pass" technology puts viewers behind the wheel in an exciting 200mph racing experience that allows them to view from camera positions all around the track-all live during NASCAR’s upcoming broadcast season. So when their in-house creative director Dave Pagani wanted to bring the California Speedway into a suburban neighborhood to sell this point, an Engine Room collaboration was the perfect way to ensure success.
The plan involved hoisting an HD camera on a 50ft Technocrane, with a motion control repeat head, out and over pit row during an actual race. "We spent days prepping an elaborate schedule that would maximize every second around the track’s extremely tight shooting restraints," says Dan Schmit, DP and VFX Supervisor. "Then the rain hit, and all hell broke loose." When the delayed race was suddenly full-on with no time to rehearse, the team was forced to free record all the spot’s camera moves, wild, without the necessary stand-in performances they had so critically planned on. NASCAR Images shooters jumped in to help make up for the limited amount of race time.
For the spot to work, the racing footage had to match perfectly with the actions of the lead actor who wasn’t photographed until the following day, so tensions were high on the second location. Thankfully, due to the right mix of experience and luck, it all came together, helped by the fact that Engine Room also produced all the digital effects for Pagani’s spot. "When things out of our control go wrong on the set," says Schmit, "it’s great for our clients to know that the guys shooting their work have the ability and resources to insure its proper completion, even under extreme conditions."