BALTIMORE—As the on-set graphics supervisor for the third season of “House of Cards,” one of my challenges was to create a mobile playback system to feed a set that included a network broadcast production facility setup with lots of video monitors displalying live feeds and graphics.
More specifically, I had to create a system that could receive live camera feeds and graphics information, and then display these changing feeds on monitors throughout the set as the scene was being shot. We also needed to be able to control these camera and graphics feeds from an off-set location and design the system to be sufficiently mobile to keep up with the production company’s shooting requirements.
Kevin Spacey stars in the Netflix production “House of Cards.”PORTABLE VIDEO SYSTEM
Basically, it boiled down to creating a small broadcast facility that could accommodate multiple inputs, provide an ever-changing number of output feeds, and be constructed with wheels to provide mobility.
To accomplish this, I designed and created a specialized cart to accommodate the gear. While building the cart, I realized that I needed to include equipment to handle occasional standards conversions, because from time-to-time, some of the camera feeds or graphics sources would need to be presented in different resolutions. Blackmagic Design’s Teranex 2D Processor appeared to be the ideal tool.
The Teranex 2D Processor is a broadcast- quality standards conversion processor with Thunderbolt I/O technology capture and playback features. It’s a single processor device that occupies only one RU and delivers all conversions in 4:2:2 quality.
On the “House of Cards” set, outputs from three cameras, along with multiple graphics feeds were first fed into a Blackmagic Design Smart Videohub 40 x 40 router. Router outputs were connected to the Teranex for video conversions, with the converted video being delivered to as many as 30 on-set monitors.
On all of my on-set carts—or on any portable installation for that matter—size and weight are always an issue, and this setup was no exception. It always boils down to packing as much functionality as possible into the smallest available form factor. And “nimble” is the name of the game; you don’t want to carry around anything you don’t need. The Teranex’s small size and low weight made it an ideal choice. The unit was easy to include on the cart and it made a huge difference in streamlining my on-set workflow. The Teranex 2D Processor really is a “Swiss Army Knife” when it comes to video signals. I really never knew when I’d need it, but when I did, it was indispensible.
The Teranex 2D also became very useful when one of the monitors we were using on the set wouldn’t accept standard 16:9 aspect ratio content. The Teranex handled it in stride.
Nathaniel E. Bell served as on-set graphics supervisor during the production of the third season of “House of Cards.” He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Blackmagic Design at 408-954-0500 or visitwww.blackmagicde-sign.com.
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