London and Surrey-based media services company Bestlight specialises in multicamera productions of performances from some of the UK’s top theatre and arts venues. Bestlight is a BBC preferred supplier in the fields of Drama, Entertainment and Children’s Programming and has a formidable reputation to maintain. It therefore sets the bar very high when it comes to equipment choices.
Recently, Bestlight invested in the new Cindedeck EXTREME, a portable, affordable, camera-mountable, high-grade DDR that is revolutionising digital cinematography and TV production with a new digital video tapeless workflow that drastically reduces production time and associated costs. This single, compact unit, which has already won numerous awards and accolades since making its first public appearance at NAB 2010, negates the need for a separate time-code generator, monitor and field recorder, thus reducing location set-up time and simplifying video acquisition. Furthermore, the device has three internal codecs that allow users to make recordings in the edit format of their choice, which improves workflow by removing the need for the often fraught process of file ingest and format translation.
Bestlight’s Managing Director Steve Eveleigh acquired Cinedeck EXTREME from the company’s UK distributor, Oxygen DCT, and has been using it on a number of high profile Opera and Ballet recordings for broadcasters including the BBC.
“Bestlight offers a range of services including post production management, live subtitling and organising and shooting productions. However, editing is our main activity: we take the programme from recording through the editing process to produce the master tape for either Broadcast, Satellite relay to Cinemas and DVD,” he explains. “Although we are a small company, we take great pride in keeping at the front edge of technology. Bestlight was one of the first to move into High Definition and we also introduced digital recording at the Royal Opera House.”
For recording, Bestlight has two Avid systems, both capable of delivering High Definition material at 10 Bit resolution.
“Usually we use Avid to record because I can take the drives directly into my edit suite and start work straight away with no need to transfer formats,” Eveleigh says. “However, there is a problem with this approach in that the Avid rig is quite large and takes a while to transport and set up. It was while searching for a solution to this problem that I came across Cinedeck EXTREME. What interested me about this unit was its size and portability, so I was keen to see how it would perform in the real world.”
Eveleigh chose a multi-camera performance of Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House as his test bed. He used Cinedeck as an additional recorder to support his Avid system, feeding it with an additional isolated output from the vision mixer and recording onto a fast G-Tech hard drive.
“The results were really good – it worked a treat and we were blown away by its performance,” he says. “The timecode synced perfectly and the fact that we could record in the edit format we wanted was a real bonus in as there was no need to ingest files and spend time on transfers.”
Eveleigh has subsequently used Cinedeck to record The Adventures of Alice In Wonderland, a Royal Ballet performance at the ROH for the BBC. Once again the project was hailed as a great success.
“The advantages of Cinedeck EXTREME are reduced rig time, its ability to record external timecode and the fact that it will record Avid DNxHD 10 Bit files, Quicktime Pro Res HQ and CineForm,” Eveleigh says. “It also provides the Cinedeck Fullstream Uncompressed™ option delivering uncompressed 444 or uncompressed 422 recording if it is required, and it works well with cameras giving a new lease of life to semi pro cameras such as the Sony EX3 that have reduced bit rate onboard recorders.”
At this year’s Cine Gear show, Cinedeck announced even more new features, including a powerful stereo video option for 3D capture and playback and an SI-2K camera option enabling 12 bit RAW 2K capture and playback. For multi camera shoots and iso recording, Cinedeck already offers the EXSync™ timecode module option, which enables single or multiple devices to jam sync to a master SMPTE/EBU time code reference.
“Apart from the file formats which suited my requirements, the Cinedeck interface is very user friendly, which is a big plus when I want to hire it out without an operator,” Eveleigh says. “It also has the decency to remember its state after a power down and to record to an external e-sata drive, which extends its record time. I used this facility to great effect recently when I recorded a four hour satellite transmission of Macbeth from the Royal Opera House for a delayed relay to Australia.
“In future I anticipate using a number of Cinedeck EXTREME units in OB trucks and with fly away kits because its small size makes it ideal for this type of application. It can also help simplify workflow for High Definition productions that have been shot on high end cinema cameras and are not required for large screen projection.”
About Oxygen DCT:
Oxygen DCT is a broadcasts systems solutions provider with a deep knowledge and understanding of the broadcast and professional media markets. This dynamic organisation has amassed in just over five years, a very extensive and comprehensive products portfolio of over 3000 carefully designed broadcast and production products that represent the pinnacle of engineering excellence. Oxygen DCT was the first company in the broadcast industry to fully implement online facilities for its customers and its unique, comprehensive online ordering facility automatically configures equipment systems for customers, saving time and provides industry professionals with the convenience of immediate online pricing. The 'one-stop-shop' website caters for the smallest requirements whilst also allowing users to prepare their own quotes and place orders online with immediate order confirmation. Oxygen DCT also provides advice, support and expertise as part of its ‘life cycle’ care scheme, ensuring that customers are fully serviced throughout their career life cycles. www.oxygendct.com