Sony’s Ci Drives National Hot Rod Association’s Cloud-Based Workflow

(Image credit: NHRA)

GLENDORA, Calif.—The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is the sanctioning body for the largest motorsports organization in the world and our goal is to provide a safe environment for drag racing.  On the television production side, where I work, we aim to deliver engaging racing action to our fans and viewers on Fox, in-venue, through our OTT platform and on our multiple content delivery platforms and take this content through post production.

I make sure everyone on our content team has the tools to do their job efficiently and effectively, to get the content out as quickly as possible.  One of the key pieces of our process is Sony’s Ci Media Cloud, a cloud-based solution, which allows for collection, backup, review and streamlining of media workflows.

The NHRA has a vast library of archival content, and each race generates between 4 and 5 terabytes of content that result in upwards of 600 to 800 hours of programming annually.  Because of this, we knew we were going to need a large asset management system to store all of our content and deliver it effectively.  We also sought a system that could be accessed from on-site in our edit workflow and our cloud-based workflow.

A ‘Swiss Army Knife' for the Cloud
We ultimately chose Ci because it allowed all of our assets to be managed in the cloud and we didn’t have to keep on prem storage.  We also quickly found that the cost savings associated with Ci were tremendous. Furthermore, in unison with Amazon Web Services storage, Ci allows us to create storage management policies that push content into the S3 Glacier and then down into Deep Archive at regular intervals.

The NHRA is responsible for producing between 20 and 24 events a year, and we have upwards of 30 cameras on site. Each camera is connected via fiber, wireless or directly to the cloud and we get that data back to our users quickly and efficiently.  The camera-to-cloud workflow in Ci means we can rapidly get assets from our multiple cameras back to Ci and ready to be used by our content team.

We also use Ci to automate ingest and upload. Camera feeds are recorded in EVS and files are exported by the Xfile and then sent to a NAS location that is set up as a watch folder in Ci Relay, which uses transfer acceleration and bandwidth management to automatically upload files to the right locations in Ci, giving us instant access when we need them.  Making our content available to our editors with speed and ease allows us to deliver the experience that our fans expect, whether it’s televised or on our social platform.

Live Streaming With Ci
In addition, we’re live streaming 10–12 hours a day to our fans.  Every bit of that funnels through Ci, making it easily available for our social team, marketing team and sales team to go in and look at anything that’s been on our OTT or on television.  They can grab it for a proof of performance, send it to a marketer to show what we’ve done for them on-air or get it to our cloud-based editing team so they can turn it around and create new assets that are ready for the next show nearly instantaneously.

Ci really is the heartbeat for the backend of our entire production workflow, whether it’s providing the storylines in the television show, an item on social media, a regular post or something that marketing can use to sell tickets.  

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Rob Hedrick

Rob Hedrick, senior director, production at the NHRA, is an accomplished media professional with a distinguished career of more than 20 years in creative arts and business management.