Just outside Phoenix, Ariz., the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was tearing it up and CRAS students were there to work alongside Fox Sports in real-time to practice their craft.
More than 30 students from The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences recently had the opportunity to practice mixing live audio and video feeds from host broadcaster Fox Sports in the school’s 42-ft. remote-production mobile broadcast trailer during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ second event, the 2019 NHRA Arizona Nationals, held at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly Firebird International Raceway) in Chandler, Ariz. from Feb. 22-24.
“This was the first occasion for CRAS to be part of an NHRA event, and it was a tremendous opportunity for our students,” says Robert Brock, CRAS Director of Education. “The NHRA is testing audio in Dolby Atmos and while it’s not being aired that way just yet, students in our truck were able to hear it in 5.1.4 immersive audio. The NHRA’s ‘Nitro’ truck is one of the few broadcast trucks equipped with this type of mixing capability, so it was a perfect match to tie-in with our CRAS truck which also has this capability due to our partnership with Dolby. CRAS students got to hear something that very few others have been able to hear, and it was a tremendous learning experience for them over the course of the weekend.”
CRAS’ 42-ft. remote-production mobile broadcast unit is designed to be a working replica of a real-world broadcast production trailer stocked with top shelf industry professional audio and video equipment that are utilized by leading television network broadcast engineer crews.
Sports Broadcast Hall of Fame inductee Fred Aldous also worked with the CRAS students for a majority of the weekend, sharing his insights and expertise into what goes into a live sports broadcast. A1 Josh Daniels fed CRAS 84 channels of audio and let them position a GoPro over his console to allow students to watch what he was doing from the CRAS truck. Both Daniels and Russel ‘Rusty’ Roark (submixer) invited students to watch over their shoulder while they worked live.
Brock added that a unique NHRA program called “YES” informs youth about job opportunities related to what goes on at the NHRA. “I was invited to speak on a panel, which included Ford Funny Car driver Bob Tasca, to well over 1,000 mostly high school students,” said Brock. “I spoke to the careers in audio production for TV broadcast. I was honored to be part of such an event. Technology Executive Mike Rokosa invited us out, and we could not be more thankful and appreciative to his team for all the time and effort they gave us.”
CRAS students were inspired and energized by the experience.
“This opportunity really cemented in my mind just how many careers there are in the audio industry,” says Connor Lehmann. “The highlight of the whole experience to me was getting to see Josh and Rusty mix. My goal moving forward is to be as efficient in my workflow as they are.”
“The fast-pace high-pressure environment was exciting and motivating to me and I intend to put a lot of time and effort into the broadcast curriculum here at CRAS because of my experience at this event,” says Jack Bottarini. “Meeting Fred Aldous was an inspiring moment.”
“Experiencing the Dolby Atmos in a full force broadcast has helped affirm my choice in career and passion,” adds Corey Owens.
“This event, much like other live sporting events such as with the NBA, MLB, and NASCAR where we are also invited to send our students to train, allows our future audio engineers to experience a part of the industry that has special demands and skill sets,” adds CRAS Administrator Kirt Hamm. “It helps them identify if this is a passion area that they want to pursue after completion of our program and enter the Live Broadcast industry on their 280 hour internship, which is part of graduation requirements. We cannot thank Fox Sports enough for allowing us these opportunities for our students to interact with their teams throughout the weekend.”