National Hot Rod Association Supercharges Production Workflow Using Sony’s Intelligent Media Services

The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the world, recently came to Sony with a simple request — to increase the value of their production assets and use them to support enhanced storytelling. According to Mike Rokosa, the NHRA’s technology executive, the organization sought to reach more consumers on more devices with more content, in a faster manner. He found that Sony “had, or partnered with other entities to provide all of the pieces of the puzzle that would allow the NHRA to maximize fan engagement and create new fans.

NHRA and Sony found each other at the right time and in a way that worked for both of us.”

Mike Rokosa
Technology Executive, National Hot Rod Association

Common Vision

After initial discussions, the NHRA realized the value in Sony’s resources and expertise and appreciated their common vision to develop and jointly design solutions that streamline workflows and address growing content needs. After learning more about Sony’s range of production capabilities, the NHRA chose to transition to cloud-based distribution workflows using Sony’s Intelligent Media Services, many of which were created or customized to meet the NHRA’s specific needs. Now the NHRA has expanded into a content factory through their implementation of Sony’s turn-key technology, which Rokosa commented “allow us to invest in and broaden the NHRA’s assets, as opposed to building our own hardware.”

To go to an NHRA race is an experience unlike any other. A general admission ticket gives you full access to the pits, allows you to interact with the racers and crew and view 10,000 horsepower funny cars and dragsters that shake your bones to the core as they race down the track at speeds of up to 339 miles per hour. Working hand-in-hand with Sony, NHRA is now able to preserve, digitize and share archival footage, publish real-time video updates for social fans and bring a new pipeline of content to on-demand viewers, bringing the thrill of an NHRA race to fans anywhere, anytime.

Through Memnon’s digitization and archival capabilities, NHRA has found what Rokosa believes is “a viable and cost-effective solution” to preserve valuable content from their more than 50 years of historical assets that he says “doesn’t add extra infrastructure or support.” Once this analog content has been digitized via Memnon, it can be housed in Sony’s collaborative Ci Media Cloud  platform for secure access and simple sharing from virtually anywhere. Additionally, NHRA fans will experience the thrill of live drag racing action on a new platform, called NHRA.TV starting this season. NHRA.TV will operate on a cloud-based video streaming platform utilizing Sony’s Intelligent Media Service, Ven.ue, to provide an ever increasing catalog of exclusive drag racing video content on demand and live.

Ci Media Cloud Platform

Rokosa notes, “Sony is one of the leaders in cloud-based systems and our organization saw Ci as an opportunity to work collaboratively across various unique racetrack locations in real-time, enhancing our productivity.” With the adoption of Ci Media Cloud, NHRA has positioned itself as the leader among major sports organizations leveraging the cloud for end-to-end media management. Rokosa says, “The NHRA is small administratively when compared to larger leagues, so we have to be more agile, more creative and more entrepreneurial in how we compete. Sony is giving us that edge with a cloud-based infrastructure optimized for immediate sharing, publishing and distributing.”

The collaborative cloud platform will enable the NHRA’s expected 5 TB of data per event and 120 TB of content a year to be tagged with rich custom metadata that is easily searchable. Uploaded files can be shared securely and easily through Ci’s MediaBox feature with broadcast and social media teams for posting with immediacy.

Housing both current production assets and archival footage in the cloud gives the NHRA a competitive advantage that enables them to edit in the cloud and share in an instant. For the broadcast elements, EVS replay operators will clip highlights from various cameras and those files and their related metadata will be pushed over to an NAS farm and automatically uploaded to Ci. Now everyone in the NHRA’s production pipeline will have access to their content, regardless of their location, which meets one of the organization’s fundamental challenges. Once this content is in Ci, it can be packaged and staged for Ven.ue.

Ven.ue OTT Video Streaming

The NHRA has established an OTT platform as part of their new media infrastructure. “Collaborating with Ven.ue allows a world of additional functionality that was not possible before, and tools to strategically grow this product into the future with minimal infrastructure costs and personnel,” explained Rokosa.

Through Ven.ue, the NHRA’s content will be customized, published and monetized, creating expansion opportunities, as well as international visibility for the NHRA — which satisfies the NHRA’s core goal. As the first professional sports association to use Ven.ue, the organization will build a customized OTT platform for NHRA, in addition to VOD opportunities that offer new revenue streams. Ven.ue extends the NHRA’s reach to additional delivery and distribution platforms and fulfills the fans’ desire for additional content. Rokosa noted that the organization would use these new platforms to drive fan engagement and create a new base of loyal NHRA fans.

As Rokosa states, “The NHRA and Sony found each other at the right time and in a way that worked for both of us.” Through the use of Sony’s complementary and inter-connected media solutions, the organization is streamlining efficiencies that enhance their workflow while generating more engaging content for their enthusiastic fans — something any sports organizations would benefit from. As motorsports continue to grow exponentially and find creative avenues to interact with their dedicated supporters, the NHRA has new and immersive opportunities to tell relevant stories through videos and social media experiences that enhance fan involvement and in turn, add new dimensions to the sport and its leading talent.

Rokosa observes, “The fact that Sony has some of the best cameras in the world and an enormous stake in the consumer market offers us the ability to continue to grow our relationship into the future and we’re looking forward to it.”

Memnon Asset Preservation

Working with Memnon, the NHRA will begin to convert a library of 35,000 analog assets to have them digitized in order to protect and unlock the potential of this historical content — some of which has never seen the light of day. If kept too long, these important NHRA historical records could deteriorate, get lost or become obsolete due to changing formats and technologies. By digitizing their library, the NHRA will be able to preserve interviews and footage associated with their rich legacy. They will also be able to save space by hosting everything for ubiquitous access in the cloud and create new storytelling opportunities that have the potential to be monetized through Ven.ue’s OTT platform to open up a new revenue stream.

While Memnon hasn’t previously worked in the 2-inch realm, they have adapted their technology and will be able to accommodate the dozens of 2-inch tapes that the NHRA has in their archives. After Memnon digitizes the content it can live in the Ci Cloud Platform.