Monday, February 23, 2009

SPEED Still Dialing-In New HD Studios

This Week In NASCAR is one of the programs coming from the new SPEED HD studios in the northern part of the Greater Charlotte area. TV viewers can also watch The SPEED Report and Wind Tunnel on Sundays. While these two programs seem to be working quite well, SPEED is still trying to dial-in TWIN.

Several production issues were addressed since the last program, including the movement of the panelists closer together on the set which was very helpful. It is also clear after the Monday program that the lighting, the make-up and the audio continue to be challenges.

Michael Waltrip and special guest Aric Almirola joined host Steve Byrnes for this program. This trio turned out to be a good mix. Once Almirola got warmed-up, he turned out to be very TV-friendly with a good sense of humor. He also seemed to be able to handle Waltrip's dominant personality with no problems.

Byrnes ran the panel through the format which was very wisely switched last season to present the Sunday race highlights first. Both drivers added good comments and although Waltrip continues to reference his team a tad too often, Almirola and Byrnes balanced him quite well through the race review.

Make-up in a High Definition TV studio is tough to do. From local station anchors to soap operas, the TV make-up profession is going through some significant changes. Click here for an MSNBC article about the challenges that this new technology has brought to the on-camera personalities. Airbrushing vs. standard hand application is an issue that SPEED will no doubt have to decide sooner rather than later.

The new SPEED studio is big and TWIN continues to have audio problems. Mixing a very vocal announcer like Steve Byrnes with a low-key panelist like Almirola is tough to do. Add in the fact that the voices echo slightly when the volume gets high and this is a challenge that SPEED will no doubt address for the next program.

The real problem for regular viewers of TWIN is that Waltrip and Chad Knaus really clicked last season and that makes it tough to watch the other combinations of talent. Biffle has come a long way, but the combination of a crew chief and a driver really works well on this program.

The good news is that Knaus and Waltrip will reunite on Monday, March 2nd at 8PM for the next episode of This Week in NASCAR on SPEED.

If you watched this show, tell us how you enjoyed the new studio and the program in general. Just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so profanity and hateful speech will cause your comment not to be published.

Thanks again and happy posting.


Unknown said...

The amount of echo in that studio is maddening!!! Did they stop selling acoustic tile for the walls??
I find that unless I turn the "Surround" setting off, I'm unable to even make out the dialog very well... it's better with that setting but still ridiculous for a "professional" TV studio.
Sure hope they fix it as I enjoy they're programming, but NO ECHO in the TV studio folks!! (I could care less about their makeup HD or not)
Glad you put this area back on-line JD... thanx again!!

Anonymous said...

I thought the show was great, Mikey whats up with the chin stubble? The lighting seemed alittle off, was not that flattering for the panelist faces. Aric did a nice job, but looking forward to Chad coming back to work with Mikey again. This is the show I look forward to after a long day at work on Monday, and it continues to deliver.

Lisa Hogan said...

Last week, the "weird" look of the panel was too distracting so I just listened to the show while doing other things.

This week, the panel still had the "weird" look and with the added echo effect, I just skipped the show.

Anonymous said...

Have they gotten the dumpster pickup schedule aligned with TWIN taping at the new studio yet? That was about the only tradition left from the old show.

Anonymous said...

New studio, old studio, makes no difference to me as long as the show itself is good and I thought it was this week. Aric was terrific on the panel, probably one of the best fill-ins they've had for a long time, better than many of the veterans that have been on. I think he and Michael were great together and I hope that someone at SPEED noticed and will invite him back when Greg and Chad aren't available.

As for Michael referencing his team too often, I don't really understand what the issue is. He's a car owner and a driver, if he has an example to give or something to discuss it should be expected that's the perspective he's going to talk from because that's what he's most familiar with. Same with Chad or Greg or any other member of the panel that they would talk most about the race or what happens from the perspective of their own team.

Anonymous said...

The echoing was annoying, particularly with Steve because he's talking in his 'TV' voice. I still think they're kinda far apart, but it was better. Nobody's makeup looked weird to me, but then, I'm not watching in HD.

I was surprised at how much Aric was able to get in around Michael (no easy feat.) It occurs to me that finding another crew chief to pair with Biffle might work, kind of a 'every other week' thing. He & Richert, maybe (their parting was not their idea.) Or maybe someone like Barker (IMHO, Bootie is always good but we don't know who wants to spend their time on TV...and not at the shop (I'm surprised that Chad does so much of it...I guess it's delegating.) But I have wondered if we won't see Biffle/Waltrip because they don't want to...or just because the producer sees that they don't click.

Tracy D said...

Did Michael not bother to shave, is he trying to grow a beard, or was that just horrible lighting? On my TV, he looked like a porcupine.

Liked Almirola. He didn't let Mikey run over him too much.

I'd rather the guys had a pat of powder to hide shiny noses and let it go at that. We know they're real people, not movie stars. Let them look like the men they are, not orange rubber puppet heads. With porcupine whiskers.

Anonymous said...

I thought Aric's description of the consequences of being slightly off of where you want to be headed into the corners was very interesting and he added quite a bit to the show. I hope he gets to do this again.

TexasRaceLady said...

I agree with Culo, the echo is maddening to the nth degree.

The one other thing I couldn't help but notice --- the thick, heavy make-up. Looks as if it was applied with a trowel, not a brush.

I was afraid the guys' faces would crack.

Dmo said...

Acoustic control in a TV studio is tough. In a radio or recording studio, acoustic absorption and diffusion materials can be placed on the walls, ceilings, and corners - in TV though, all those locations have be left open for lights, cameras, sets, etc. Still though, with some creativity, it can be done. But, as audio is the often-ignored step child of video in TV land, rarely do you find someone at a production facility who takes these issues seriously. Back when folks were listening to TV shows on crummy 4" speakers, studio acoustic shortcomings were not as noticable - now though, TV's have much-improved audio capabilities and almost everyone can hear the problems. SPEED either needs to empower their current Audio Director, or hire one if there isn't someone in that rather critical position. JMHO, of course.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree about the echo - makes me think they're sitting in a warehouse somewhere!

Enjoyed the program though - good rapport between the three guys. And had a good laugh over Mikey's comment on the fox not catching Digger. DW ain't gonna like that...

Although I enjoy Knause & Biffle, it's good to have others in the guest spot - gives us a chance to see their personalities. Otherwise, we only see them as the face behind the helmet.

Thanks again JD for coming back this season - racing would not have been the same without you!

Ziggy said...

Mikey couldn't have picked a better time to start growing a beard. The HD picture was not helping. (At least I thought it was a beard).

My sound was blasting from the corners with the commentary from the center very low. It was frustrating.

JD, glad to see the blog is back!

Anonymous said...

First, I'm really glad that you are back! Second, Things were better this week as far as lighting, spacing of chairs, etc... I just don't enjoy the show without Chad and Mikey together.

KoHoSo said...

While I still hold to my opinion that TWIN should have never been changed and made so rigid from the previous IWC/INC format, I thought this was a good episode and I noticed something that deserves a compliment.

In times past when a low-key driver has been inserted on the panel for a one-off, they have almost always been buried by the one or two other stronger personalities (especially by Mikey). Watching last night's show, it seemed to me that it was Byrnes who "warmed up" Almirola and did a very good job of keeping him involved, making him comfortable, and getting Aric to give some thoughtful and informative answers that we might not have heard from a more reserved driver on the show in the past. That was the kind of thing that Johnny Carson did for years -- make his guests look better -- and Byrnes deserves a big compliment for doing that with Almirola in an episode that could have very easily been a dud.

Anonymous said...

REALLY, liked Aric and the way that he dealt with Mikey.

Sophia said...

On my tv the sound wasn't too bad but I was multitasking.

I HAVE OLD FASHIONED tv..31 inch and the close ups : SUPER WHITE TEETH and glowing WHITE eyeballs. Somebody fix that PLEASE. It's like the guys are in Halloween make up and these are good looking guys.

It was nice to see Steve moved in closer to the other two and Aric did a good job of filling in.

I have to say if Chad is going to miss A LOT OF SHOWS we need a steady fun fill in with Mikey. I know money keeps the show from being a three panel + Steve show...but after the "Odd Couple" it's tough when we expect the zingers and the "Don't touch me again" comments! :(

I don't mind Mikey's whiskers, shaving is irritating and he still looks ok to me (Whites of the eyes aside but that's a camera/lighting problem more than makeup) He grew his hair long at times last season which drew comments but I would love hair with that much natural body!!

Stever Byrnes is amazing that after his long weeks of traveling he is always a steady mood on the show. SPEED is great to have him hosting.
(Speaking of SPEED Hosts I missed WT this week and my dose of Dave Despain! RERUN some of these shows more often SPEED. How about WT BEFORE TWIN?? Just be nice to have a Monday nite package of "racing shows".

Now if they can only tweak the sound for most tv sets and puhleaze, fix the freaking lighting that gives a glowing effect to eyes and teeth.

p.s. CLOSE-CAPTIONING PERSON ON SPEED: PLEASE lower the CC so those of us that need the aid of the words can use it without it covering up the FACES. CC always runs at the top portion of the screen on SPEED and this is not helpful.

Thanks JD for the site. Saves us all a lot in stamps for snail mail.

Anonymous said...

Very simple cure for the echo--I'd venture a wager that the microphones used are the standard omni-directional lavalier mikes that will pick up sound equally as well in all directions. Hard surfaces on the set reflect the original sound. I did see the studios and they are constructed to generally accepted standards for TV production. If SPEED were to try a more directional microphone for Mr. Byrnes and the guests, the problem would be dramatically reduced. Absent that, they could go back to the old days of TV and use a directional shotgun mike on a boom (as they do in movies) to mike dialogue. As DMo 9:43am stated correctly, the audio needs to step up to the video.

Anonymous said...

I watched the show on the little TV because of audio issues.

Newracefan said...

Didn't notice the sound or the makeup but then I usually don't. Was glad to see they moved the chairs. Aric did a great job. Perhaps Mikeys lack of shaving was a just flew in from the west coast thing. I have missed Chad but still love the show.

Anonymous said...

@Tracy--LOL! yes porcupine is the perfect term!

@anon 10:03--the funny thing about your warehouse comment was IIRC, the old studio *was* a converted warehouse.

I also think that Aric did a great job. I was worried because sadly unless he lucks out and gets interviewed after a wreck we don't get to hear much from him :(.

Bootie use to help fill in back in 2K3 and he was always great! I know he's been on a time or two as well since. I wish Mikey would let him have time to do NP already and come by on TWIN to visit as well. Back then, Herman and Frankie were the "go to" fill in if someone couldn't make it. And a few times Allen forgot last minute that someone wasn't going to be there and they'd come by with an 11th hour save.

Dot said...

After reading the comments about the sights and sounds of TWIN on fancy schmanzy TV systems, I'm glad I'm still low tech.

I agree, Steve did make Aric seem at home. I thought Aric did a good job.

I did laugh at Mikey saying that they moved the chairs closer together.

I don't know what kind of doctor Dr Teplisky is, but how come he knows about the mic issues and the production crew does not?

About the comment that Mikey talks about his teams too much. And Chad doesn't? I thought it was nice of Mikey to give a shout out to Marcos. Since again, he was not mentioned during the race.

Vicky D said...

I enjoyed Aric too. Thought he looked better in front of the camera than Greg Biffle's deer in the headlight look. It was funny when he was talking about using his sponsor's, a Tom Tom, in Vegas and Mikey saying he might get lost and Aric saying NO he won't. I didn't notice the echo I guess I'm used to old radios so am not in the know about things like that.

Anonymous said...

i would love if they could get ken schrader back on the show. and i too noticed michaels little forest growing on his chin. it doesnt look good at all in hd.

Karen said...

Aric didn't sound like a newbie to me and wasn't afraid to speak up. He's a very bright young guy and was able to keep up with Mikey. I really liked his input and hope they have him back really soon. I enjoyed the whole show.

Anonymous said...

I thought the show was very good.... but then I always enjoy the show... I thought Aric was a great addition. I think both Steve and Michael did a great job of including him in the conversations. I thought Michael talked about his team only when it was relative, it wasn't overdone by any means... Just the "Waltrip haters" opinion. I liked the porcupine look! Keep TWIN coming and I'll be happy... willing to overlook all the little things that other knitpic over.... :)

Lou said...

Another good show as usual. Aric was great for a first time on TWIN. He gave some very good comments and seemed very knowledgable for his few years in the sport. He would be one who could come back to the program when needed. And he handled MW as needed. Did not notice the white eye and makeup problem, but then again I am watching on a 40 inch wide. But not on HD.

majorshouse said...

I loved how Amoralla handled Mikey. It was funny how he was quietly able to hone in on Mikey's stupid personality that he thinks is so funny and use it against him especially in the way of sponsor promotions. It was a great show and would love to see him more often take down the high and mighty Michael Waltrip.

Anonymous said...

Ive always thought of Mikey as a very good race car driver..But!!Is It just me, or is Mikey fishing from the other end of the pond? Not that It matters to anyone really..But It does seem a bit obvious..Hope his team does well this year!! He is great for the sport!!