Blackmagic Camera Stays Busy at WSMV-TV

NASHVILLE —WSMV-TV’s promotions department has always sought new ways to interact with our viewers. One of the concepts we’ve developed for this is our “Surprise Squad,” which is all about adding a bit of the unexpected to the lives of certain individuals in the Nashville area. Station reporters surprise viewers and make their days a little bit brighter by appearing out of the blue and paying a bill for a lucky individual.

These “random acts of kindness” take place just about everywhere: at offices, in stores, at a filling station, or even in situations where people are waiting in line to pay their bills.

Brian Hallett captures the astonishment of an unsuspecting shopper when WSMV-TV’s “Surprise Squad” offers to “pick up the tab.”NO ‘DO OVERS’ ALLOWED HERE
Surprising viewers by buying their groceries, paying their electric bills and filling up their gas tanks means that we have to be quick on our feet to capture their reactions to such unexpected instances of good fortune. Surprise Squad is about capturing the real-life reactions people show from these kind gestures, and of course, missing those sorts of precious moments is not an option.

We rely on a number of production tools to put this real-life feature together in order to meet the very tight deadlines for getting the content to air. These include Blackmagic Designs’ 4K production camera.

Surprise Squad keeps everyone involved on their toes, as we have to move pretty fast to capture those special moments and the characters that can immediately bring meaning to the overall story. Blackmagic Design’s cameras help us capture those moments without worry.

As the feature is all about spontaneity— and is completely unrehearsed and unstaged—not every venue that we find ourselves shooting in has what could be termed “ideal” lighting conditions. In such situations the Blackmagic 4K production camera and its 1080 ProRes footage really shine. In the past, some of these poor lighting environment shoots might have been unsalvageable; however, with the Blackmagic camera, we’re able to raise video signals, reduce the noise level and color correct ourselves out of trouble spots. The robust ProRes files let us work around most problems and deliver content that looks good on the air.

That same flexibility pays off when we’re working in familiar locations where we know what to expect in terms of lighting, as the camera gives us the flexibility of going with the global shutter and 35 mm look that 4K production cameras provide.

All of these Surprise Squad moments are shot handheld, as we want nothing to interfere with capturing such spontaneous moments. To allow us to use the camera in this fashion, we created a shoulder rig based around a Zacuto quick-release shoulder pad. We also use a Blackmagic Design SDI-HDMI Battery Converter interface to send video to a field video monitor.

Having cameras that we can trust to be quick and accurate is a huge benefit when shooting and editing in a broadcast news environment, and Blackmagic Design is making this happen with their products.

Brian Hallett is the senior producer of promotions at WSMV-TV. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Blackmagic Design at 404-954-0500 or