Linking to OBs
Virtually every large LE production is now “location shooting” behind the scenes and away from the studio. This requires fast turnaround and delivery of edited material to an OB via file-based, traditional tape or tapeless workflow. Pinewood says it is providing the space, facilities, resources and connectivity right next door to the OB to create the right working environment for producers and directors to be in one place. This means physical movement and time spent in-between areas to approve material is kept to a minimum.
“Big Brother” is perhaps the most high-profile event show to have gone HD in the past year. Tapeless in SD since 2006, the switch of the show from C4 to Five (but retained at Elstree Studios) prompted an HD upgrade.
Acquisition is from 40 HD iso feeds, mixed to eight feeds on to EVS, then ingested as XDCAM media on to a petabyte of ISIS Unity storage. Acquisition and ingest is managed by OB service Roll to Record before editing into a daily one-hour program on-site by post outfit DDF, which uses Retrieve, its own bespoke logging software.
Since most multi-camera shows switched out of OBs also record in the OB, wireless connections are not as important for logging. Operators can, however, use tablets to log on to the XDCAM decks. If K2 or EVS systems are in use, the logging stations are IP-based and on the server network.
For the Academy Awards 2012, where the OB was provided by NEP Visions, a rather elaborate second-screen app was created that allowed home users to have their own virtual monitor wall on their iPads, or a floor plan showing camera locations. They could select the camera views they wanted to see, essentially directing their own show.
The rise in second-screen technology also demands closer integration between set design, lighting and graphics, since what may look great on a 50in HDTV screen may not necessarily work on a tablet. Essentially, this means designing the set while being cognizant of various distribution channels and simplifying on-screen graphical and real-set elements to keep visuals clean of clutter.
The design of a production is now just as important as the content, states Simon Honey, Head of TV Studio Operations, Pinewood Shepperton. LED technology has enabled designers, LDs and studios to not only create globally recognized brands, but be cost-effective when it comes to power consumption, lamp hire and purchasing in the long term.
“For us,” says Honey, “this means greater development and investment in cabling networks via fiber, etherCON and CAT6a, plus additional hard power connectivity in our lighting grids and studio floor, rather than conventional DMX and XLR. We have to make it easy for clients to simply ‘plug in and play.’
“We work closely with LDs and Lighting Suppliers to ensure we future-proof our facility in the direction the technology is evolving.”
Client demand for second screening means facilities like Pinewood need to provide not just traditional HD lines for TX broadcast, but secure, fast IT connectivity. The studio recently worked with Sky to locate web streaming equipment and personnel on-site and adjacent to the stage to improve process efficiency.
Sony suggests there is interest from the producers of studio-based reality shows for XM Pilot, the remote logging system originally intended for journalists and works in-conjunction with XDCAM cameras.
In general, IP-controller technology means a single laptop can program and control most things on a production. This gives an operator the flexibility of not necessarily being next to the equipment that needs to be altered. In some cases, this means a problem can be resolved off-site via log-ins instead.