TNDV has had a busy mobile production schedule through the first quarter of 2014, with Amnesty Internationals Bring Human Rights Home Concert last month standing out as its most unique project. The event, which took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, featured a roster of interesting musical acts aligned with the organizations 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 uniquely dramatic elements of the event which included a rousing 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 Aspirations 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.
But there were a number of more unusual compensations for which the TNDV team needed to engineer solutions.
The most important element we offered this show was a way to monitor cameras and fully understand what was happening, said Dugger. Being cinema cameras, the C300s dont have tally lights, which means there is no obvious way to know what camera is on the air. They also dont have return video, which means we cant 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 Centers 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, said Dugger. The film director and his camera crew were able to use a mix of matrix-station intercom connections and belt packs on a party line to communicate across the venue something they typically dont get to do. This enabled very effective communications across all cameras and departments.
Dugger added that using the C300 cameras provided a taste of whats 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.
Well 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.
ABOUT TNDV: Television
Formed in 2004, TNDV: Television represents the culmination of many years of broadcast and live production for Nic Dugger, owner and president; and his staff of full time engineers. TNDV produces events from small single-camera productions all the way up to multi-million dollar international TV events, and takes pride in building custom solutions for challenging productions of any size, in any situation. Recent productions include the live concert productions at the NCAA Final Four, the 2013 Re/Max Long Drive Challenge on ESPN, and the inaugural season of Sing for Your Supper on PBS.