The year 2022 of the ‘Hyundai N Festival (HNF, Hyundai N Festival)’ was more intense than ever. In particular, in the highest [N1] Avante N (Elantra N) Cup, fierce battles between teams and players continued until the end, so no one could have predicted the season champion. And all of this fierce fight was captured on camera. You can check it out in ‘HNF In‒depth’, a motor sports documentary that Hyundai Motor Company released on its YouTube channel.
‘HNF In‒depth’ is very interesting because it focuses purely on sports and drivers, so you can naturally follow the story and become immersed. It even shows what the drivers think, so this documentary resembles a drama movie about racers. Seo Seung‒han, producer of HNF In‒depth, explains how he was able to draw such an engaging story from motor sports.
Seo is famous as a car video producer. He created various entertainment programs using cars, such as 〈Top Gear Korea〉, 〈Drive Club〉, and 〈잠적(Jam-juk : Off the grid)〉. His program conveys the charm of automobiles in a fun yet sincere way. This makes it enjoyable for novice drivers and enthusiasts alike. This would have been impossible if it were not for the love of the industry. Seo explained the reason why he started car video.
“I love documentaries. I started my career as a documentary producer. But not all producers can make the shows they want. The company also needed a lot of variety shows, and I naturally took on them as well. While working tirelessly, I got an offer to try producing 〈Top Gear Korea〉, and that’s how I started doing a car TV show. At the time, I was in love with car tuning and was working hard on my car, and then it seems that the story spread among my colleagues.”
As for how much he liked cars until rumors spread, he replied, “I like cars with clear characters.” He says that he is attracted to cars that maintain their identity even when times change and new models come out. His obsession with characters is also revealed in the ‘Avante N Cup One‒Make Race Car Review’ he made with Hyundai Motor Company.
The Avante N Cup One‒Make Race Car Review begins by highlighting the first‒generation Avante (Elantra). It introduces the identity of Avante and the fact that this model was the top choice of young people in the 1990s. The story naturally goes to the 7th generation Avante N Cup one‒make race car. The background has also changed. If the first‒generation Avante went smoothly on the road, now the Avante N Cup One‒Make Race Car runs at high speed on a main circuit and shows off its performance. This is where the contrast between the new and old generations stands out. Then Seo explained his motive.
“My first car was the first‒generation Avante. I wanted to include that memory at the beginning of the video. And in the middle, I showed what I truly like. I enjoy capturing the story of high‒performance cars. I like taking pictures of cars with exciting performances like the Hyundai N. Of course, the things Kim Jin‒pyo improvised also made the video fun. We didn’t have a script. I’ve been working with Kim for a long time, and I was sure that without a script would give much better results. Our partners may have felt pressured, but thanks to their trust, we were able to make a good video.”
It was the first time for Seo, who has filmed numerous stories while working with cars, to produce a racing documentary like ‘HNF In‒depth’. Kim Jong‒nam, CEO of Playground, the organizer of the Hyundai N Festival, suggested that they create a story for the Hyundai N Festival, just as 〈Drive to Survive〉 deals with the story of F1, and that’s how they started the program. However, in order to create a new series, it was necessary to change the current system. Seo explained:
“At first, I made a highlight video of the Hyundai N Festival. However, it was difficult to capture both the fun and the story because the results of various classes had to be captured within a set time frame. A documentary with a story is even more so. It required selection and concentration, and [N1] decided to only include the Avante N Cup. It narrowed the background of the story.”
HNF In‒depth depicts the story of the team and racers, not just the outcome of the race. With a particular focus on competition, it digs deep into the world of racers and the thoughts of each racer that no one knew about. Thanks to that, it even feels like watching a sports drama. Seo explains that this structure is designed for popularity.
“A producer is a person who makes a story. The most focused part when producing ‘HNF In‒depth’ was popularity. In order to draw people’s attention to the Hyundai N Festival, players need to become stars. Sports and entertainment have one thing in common: stars have a huge impact on success. In fact, I didn’t even know how much fun motorsport was until we created ‘HNF In‒depth’. In any sport, you need a sense of belonging and a fandom to really have fun.”
“So how do we create those things? There is a sense of bonding in sports like baseball or soccer, but less of that in motorsports. It takes time and a system to attract fans while showing the colors of the team. After thinking about what we could do right away, we decided to clearly reveal the characters of the drivers. People who see their characters will naturally become fans, become interested in their team, and go to watch the game. This was an easier decision because the nature of motorsport, the competition, would bring out the character of the players.”
As Seo explains, HNF In‒depth uses competition within the Hyundai N Festival to tell a variety of stories. The secret to creating these different stories lies in research. CEO Kim Jong‒nam checks the changes of each team and drivers while looking at the practice records and past records for each round to organize the episodes. Knowing how your team competes and which drivers you expect to compete with will help you decide in advance what to focus on when shooting. And that storyline is delivered to Seo.
Interviews with racers who clearly point out the story also increase the immersion of ‘HNF In‒depth’. Drivers are interviewed 4 times ‒ after qualifying, before the final, after the final, and after the test drive. At this time, it is vividly revealed what the drivers are thinking. However, there are certain rules that must be followed in interviews; When filming the drivers, he made sure the show doesn’t get in the way of the drivers or the team.
One of the charms of ‘HNF In‒depth’ is that it vividly expressed the races. You can see the battles of drivers competing for overtaking and defending. This was possible because there was an improvement in the broadcasting system.
“In order to deliver the fun of motor sports, we had to enhance the realism. The most important part of broadcasting is to maintain a sense of realism. So, for the first time in motor sports, drones were used at the Hyundai N Festival. At first, we were worried about the risks, but we tried it and it worked. Other countries have also shown interest in this technology. This year we increased the number of cameras and drones. This allowed us to capture more vivid images,” Seo explains.
Seo says it was fun to see the changes in the team and drivers during the year with ‘HNF In‒depth’. At the beginning of the shoot, some drivers said they wanted to focus only on the race because the camera was awkward, while others were wary of their strategies being exposed. But now, teams and drivers are actively cooperating with the shoot after watching the video. As the racers got used to the camera, they were able to capture more natural and deeper images.
Regarding what ‘HNF In‒depth’ will be like in 2023, Seo says there are changes that have been thought out in advance. The thing is, no one can predict anything about sports. So, his future goal is to shoot all the teams at the same time, just like 〈Drive to Survive〉 did in F1, and choose only the most interesting parts to enhance the perfection of HNF In‒depth, so as not to miss any moment.
They have news that will surprise any fan of HNF In‒depth. Seo and Kim will submit a documentary film based on ‘HNF In‒depth’ to the Jeonju International Film Festival. The release date was scheduled for April 2023, before the start of the Hyundai N Festival 2023 season. Hyundai N Festival [N1] Avante N Cup will show the essence of motor sports.
Finally, Seo spoke to the viewers of ‘HNF In‒depth’; “I think we have only shown you the tip of the iceberg of the Hyundai N Festival. It took time for us, the team and the drivers to adapt. Stay tuned for a show next season that will make motorsport fun for everyone. Motorsport is so much fun!”
by Ahn Min‒hee
Photography by Jo Hyuk‒soo
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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