For four-wheel motorsports fans in Malaysia, Malaysian National Independence Day (August 31) signals the start of the local racing season as drivers rev up their engines to compete in the annual Merdeka Race at the Sepang International Circuit. Though circumstances prevented spectators from cheering on their favourite drivers in the stands this past August, the event organisers developed a plan to ensure no one would miss out on the high-stakes action. Enlisting the help of TWMR Productions and Blonde Robot, they produced and delivered comprehensive coverage of the two-day event via local satellite TV channel Astro Arena, as well as a Facebook Live stream, which was powered by an AJA HELO H.264 streaming, encoding and recording device. The event drew in more than 100,000 viewers.
“Merdeka only takes place once a year, and this year’s race was especially important, as it marked the first local return of sports since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Blonde Robot Territory Manager Azrina Jane Abdullah. “With the competition closed to spectators, the event organizers wanted to ensure audiences could tune into every second online, which meant streaming full coverage of the event via Facebook Live, in addition to highlights shared on local channels, and HELO proved a perfect tool for the job.”
For the production, TWMR provided an OB truck outfitted with a host of equipment, including a combination of traditional and RF cameras, which captured HD footage of the event that was then distributed via fiber or RF to a production switcher. Once mixed with graphics overlays and audio, a 1080i output of the produced feed was then sent through AJA HELO and encoded to H.264 at 1080p 25fps and distributed to Facebook Live. Using HELO’s intuitive web-based user interface, Jane was able to control the device and monitor the feed for the event organizers from a laptop stationed at a safe distance from others on-site. Given limited bandwidth (less than 10 Mb), the footage was then redistributed to other content delivery networks with help from the Restream.io service. In addition to supporting encoding and live streaming for the event, AJA HELO also allowed TWMR and the event organizer MSF (Malaysia Speed Festival) to record the event for archival and on-demand viewing purposes.
Jane concluded, “On a production like this, workflow stability is crucial, and downtime is not an option, which is why we went with HELO. HELO performed solidly, delivering an incredibly low-latency, high quality stream, even with our limited bandwidth allocation, and was so easy to set up, and control from a laptop. It’s a powerful, intuitive and cost-efficient tool for getting any live stream to audiences around the world.”