NASHVILLE—TNDV has had a busy mobile production schedule through the first quarter of 2014, with Amnesty International’s Bring Human Rights Home Concert last month standing out as its most unique project, the remote production company said. The event, which took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, featured a roster of musical acts aligned with the organization’s mission of fighting injustice and promoting human rights.
TNDV brought its 40-foot expanding side truck, Aspiration, to capture live performances for in-venue image magnification; and to serve as the central command center for content acquisition. The elements of the event, which included a speech and performance of two recently-imprisoned members of the Russian musical act Pussy Riot, influenced TNDV to make some changes to its mobile production workflow. This included the use of Canon EOS C300 cinema cameras, which introduced new production possibilities while challenging the crew.
“It was going back to Truck 101,” said Nic Dugger, president and owner, TNDV. “We basically reverse-engineered the truck to work with a camera designed for the film industry, making adjustments across the infrastructure to ensure that the cameras worked with every component. We also lost of a lot of the creature comforts we are used to with the cameras themselves. However, we gained a look and feel that is not easily achievable with broadcast cameras, thanks to a shallow depth of field and some incredibly high resolution images.”
Dugger and his team engineered nine HD video outputs to support the cameras, with feeds frame synched and time-code locked content for delivery across Aspiration’s switching, routing and multiviewing infrastructure. In addition to magnifying performances from The Flaming Lips, Tegan and Sara, and other performers on large venue screens, live feeds were recorded to in-camera memory cards and Aja KiPro recorders on the truck for future use by the organization. The KiPros recorded the feeds using a progressive segmented frame rate, allowing TNDV to capture the content in the 24p-style preferred by the film director.
“The most important element we offered this show was a way to monitor cameras and fully understand what was happening,” Dugger said. “Being cinema cameras, the C300s don’t have tally lights, which means there is no obvious way to know what camera is on the air. They also don’t have return video, which means we can’t press a button and watch the line cut in the viewfinder. It made for even higher reliance on our Imagine Communications multiviewer system, while actively listening to the director to understand his next move.”
TNDV achieved that last point by taking advantage of the Barclays Center’s extensive fiber infrastructure. Dugger used Aja Fido bricks to convert HD-SDI signals to fiber and transport signals from every corner of the venue to the loading dock, where Aspiration was parked. That same infrastructure carried multiple RTS intercom feeds, enabling digital point-to-point communications with anyone connected to the matrix.
“That is where the world of film and TV really came together for this project,” Dugger said. “The film director and his camera crew were able to use a mix of matrix-station intercom connections and beltpacks on a party line to communicate across the venue—something they typically don’t get to do. This enabled very effective communications across all cameras and departments.”
Dugger said using the C300 cameras provided a taste of what’s to come with 4K, as he and other truck companies start to consider the most effective upgrade strategies to meet those next-generation production requirements.
“We’ll have to retrain our brains to become more familiar with the film approach to production, where lens millimeters and F-Stops have a major effect on high-resolution image characteristics,” he said. “This project helped us understand how to achieve better light-balance in the absence of traditional shading, for example. The transition to 4K is going to force us to pay more attention to focus, resolution and other aspects related to the intensive imaging requirements.”