FFV Shines in Specialized HD DVR App

View any episode of NBC's "Knight Rider" and you'll notice that the series is rich in "hero graphics." These are moving images that appear on the 17-foot video screen that the actors interact with from their main control room, and also in the background on multiple computer screens.

24frame.com makes such video possible by providing the equipment, video playback, and editing services for the series. Up to 100 monitors have been deployed on the Knight Rider set for various types of video playback to support the storyline and cue the actors.


The Fast Forward Video Elite HD recorder, installed and waiting for action. With the television production's fast pace and aggressive scheduling, no one can afford even the slightest delay in the capture and presentation of all video components. Therefore, we rely heavily on advanced digital video recording (DVR) technology for playback and editing of content for the "hero screens." With a recent re-working of the series, the program moved to HD production, and this gave us an opportunity to work with some state-of-the-art integrated camera-mounted and studio HD DVR systems. We became the first to use an entirely new system, the Elite HD from Fast Forward Video (FFV).

The Elite HD is the first-ever camera-mounted DVR and player using J2K compression for recording HD-SDI video signals. We also use two rack-mounted FFV Omega HD DVRs with J2K compression for high-quality HD-SDI recording.

At the shoot, HD cameras record directly to the Elite units. Later, we remove the Elite's mini hard drive and plug it directly into an Omega deck. No downloading onto other media or conversions are required. The footage is ready for immediate editing and playback to the set monitors. This enables us to shoot and edit video footage in advance, thus streamlining and simplifying the production. What appears to be live-action video on the large "hero screen" is actually pre-shot and pre-edited.


On other shows, in situations requiring the shooting exterior angles of a moving car, we use a special configuration of six Iconix portable HD cameras equipped with Elite DVR units. A custom software application provided by FFV enables all six cameras to be controlled and monitored by a single engineer, and a simple "start-stop" switch allows us to gang-control all of the Elite decks. Other custom software enables the Omega decks to individually trigger multiple playbacks with multiple actors, in different parts of the set. With the actors speaking their lines on cue from the playback, the video essentially becomes another cast member, even though it's being triggered from a trailer 80 feet away.

With Knight Rider, we've continued our ongoing success with FFV—a partnership that goes back six years. FFV DVR systems have played an integral role in much of our television work, including all five seasons of the NBC program "Las Vegas." The integration of the Elite and Omega units ensures that there's not one second of downtime in our ability to instantly work with video footage. Also, FFV's willingness to provide specialized hardware/software configurations has made the difference in our ability to offer complex camera/DVR configurations at a reasonable price point.

Robert Chartier is chief executive officer of 24Frame.com, a provider of 24 and 30 frame computer/video equipment and custom graphics to the motion picture and television industries.

For additional information, contact Fast Forward Video at 800-755-8463 or visit