2009 NMI Grad Brandon Smith is the Production Associate and Motion Graphics Editor for the American Le Mans Series. The American Le Mans Series is a road racing series that showcases 5 different classes of luxury sports cars racing on the track at the same time. The series was modeled after the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. Most of the races are endurance races, with the length of the race varying from 2 hours, 6 hours, 10 hours, and 12 hours at different locations around the US and Canada. Brandon does production work for the series, which means that he creates graphics for ABC, ESPN2, and ESPN3 shows and web videos; edits videos that are posted on the company’s website and YouTube channel; creates highlight packages for sponsors (such as: Porsche, Tequila Patrón, Michelin, and BMW); film b-roll at the track; conduct interviews with drivers; and manage any requests for video footage from teams and media outlets.
On his Capstone project: “ I worked with the National Fish & Wildlife Service to create videos that were geared towards attracting a younger demographic to wildlife refuges. We filmed at three wildlife refuges. The videos were hosted across a few platforms, such as website, iPod, and Apple TV. The capstone helped me: film video that is usable across platforms and work with a client to make sure they received what they needed.”
Since the PR department handles most of the social media components, Brandon is not too involved on the New Media side at the moment, but he is working with them and the broadcast team to help broaden the use of New Media not only on the social media side, but also within broadcasts. With the launch of the company’s new website in March 2012, Brandon has placed hashtags on each video to increase the exposure of the online videos when fans search for certain key words.
“We are always looking for new and innovative technology to enhance the fan experience, both at track and at home while watching the race. We give fans the most access of any racing series. Any fan can walk around the garage area, see the cars up close, meet with and get autographs from the drivers, and walk along the starting grid a few minutes before each race.”
The largest New Media related challenge in the racing field and for TV production would be getting a large majority of the fanbase to go along with New Media and the technology advancement, in Brandon’s opinion. For the 2011 season, all of the American Le Mans Series races were streamed live on ESPN3.com and highlight shows on TV the day after the race. While the internet is the future delivery platform of video and TV, many fans did not like this since they were used to having the races shown on TV, and many did not have access to ESPN3. However, the ratings show that they have gained new fans as a result of the move to online streaming.
“We have walked that decision back a little bit this year by having a few of our races air live on TV, but still streaming it live on ESPN3. Anyone in the decision making process for a business has to know if their target audience is using, willing to use, and most importantly, capable of using New Media technology before making that the primary business model.”