March 21, 2023
The Last Lap: Delivering the ultimate Formula 1 watch-along with data-driven graphics
The all-encompassing production house “The Fellas Studios” is leading the way with some of the UK's biggest online talents and podcasts. One of their latest new live YouTube shows, The Last Lap, launched in August of 2022, aimed to bring together some of the biggest online F1 influencers reacting to each race as it happens, and discussing the latest news and revelations from the world of F1.
The show would be heavily reliant on data-fed graphics to help keep the viewer informed about the race action, so that they were able to follow along with the action and conversation at home. To make this vision work, the Studios knew they needed to count on the expertise of live stream consultant Alex Pettitt and his knowledge of the next-gen live graphics platform Singular.live.
Pettitt’s Alex.Live was tasked with using real-time race and telemetry data to generate live graphics for The Last Lap live streams. These include a wide variety of graphics showing live weather, timing towers and additional information like lap delta & pit stops data. Track status graphics are used to instantly show if a yellow flag, red flag, or safety car has been deployed, and the show also has access to real-time car data, displaying granular details of a driver, such as current speed, gear, RPM, DRS activation etc.
As well as live race graphics, Alex.Live designed a number of other static and informational graphics that are fed by other data feeds and sources. These include live driver and constructors championship tables, starting grids, and, more recently, a “live prediction graphic”. This allows the 4 hosts to predict the top 5 finishing order at the start, and then check in on their predictions throughout the show. The show also prides itself on being interactive with its viewers. The Last Lap utilizes Alex.Live’s bespoke “Social Comment Dock” integration to pull live YouTube chat messages into its moderation platform so a producer can approve the chat message in real-time and send it to Singular.live to be displayed on the live feed as a fully branded graphic – a process which takes less than a second, keeping the show interactive.
The Power of Data
The Last Lap’s team was positively impressed with how much data helped open the door to being able to tell the story of the race through live graphics, and keep the viewers informed. Alex Pettitt, Head of Production at Alex.Live commented: “We’re finding new ways to use and visualize the data every show, and constantly building and testing new graphics. The power of Singular Data Feeds is terrific, it is an essential backbone of being able to ingest so much real-time data and then process it instantly to display on screen. Without it, I’m pretty sure many of the graphics we have created would not have been possible.” Similarly, Singular Composition script has played a huge role in making the graphics functionally work. The tool was intuitive to use, despite the production team’s only basic coding knowledge, and the resources provided on Singular’s YouTube channel were very helpful. For the more complex coding, a Singular.live engineer was able to help take the functionality of the graphics to a new level. A first of its kind.
It’s undeniable that The Last Lap is a pioneer in its use of data visualization for livestreaming in F1, and it has even more innovations to come. The show will soon be multi-streaming to TikTok, including live comments from the app in the Social Comment Dock too, so they can be displayed as graphics on the stream. Other innovations from The Last Lap include the set itself, which has a number of color-changing LED lights in order for the set color to reflect the status of the track. The team will soon be able to use the same race data feed used for the graphics so that when a yellow flag appears in the race it automatically triggers the on-screen graphics and the set lighting.
Andrew Heimbold, CEO, Singular.live concludes: “We are very proud to be involved in this project which is a first of its kind making a high production value watch-along show for Formula 1. Through data visualization, the show is able to effectively keep the audience in sync with the race action, without showing any footage of the race itself, taking the watch-along aspect of the show to a new level. It’s something that has given The Last Lap its unique edge, due to the complexities in accessing and processing the data, making it hard for others to replicate.”
Workflow/Technical Production Details
The Singular Output URL is taken into an M1 Mac Mini which then outputs to a Blackmagic UltraStudio HD Mini. They take both Key and Fill GFX feeds out the UltraStudio HD Mini into an ATEM Mini Extreme ISO, the vision mixer for the stream. The graphics are then displayed on screen using a downstream keyer. Pettitt notes that "this particular workflow is also great for the edit afterwards".
The ATEM Mini Extreme ISO allows all its inputs to be recorded as individual ISO files (including the key and fill gfx inputs), and automatically creates a DaVinci Resolve timeline of the live show as soon as they stop recording. This means they can instantly make any tweaks to the edit that are needed, but importantly have full access to both a clean and dirty version of the show. Pettitt states, "We can add or remove graphics to sections of the show as needed in post. It’s an incredibly flexible workflow".
Alex Pettitt’s YouTube channel for all Live Stream Tips & Tricks: