Articles tagged #RENTALS
New Australian Multi-Platform Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror Series uses Fujinon Cabrio Lenses, Sony F5 Cameras and Videocraft
Videocraft Shoots Ironman and Ironwoman
It takes a particular type of individual to take part in an ironman or ironwoman race and the same can be said for the production company and OB providers responsible for broadcasting the intensely competitive events. Recently Videocraft provided a full production setup for Castle Media, the event specialists responsible for broadcasting the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Surf Ironman and Ironwoman Series. Videocraft NSW State Manager Andy Liell explained, “We have a long relationship with Castle Media so we know the level of professionalism and reliability they expect. The Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Surf Ironman Series was no exception. John Palmer, Castle Media’s MD approached us with their requirements and a very tight timeframe so we immediately sat down to work out the best production solution for their requirements.” Palmer felt that the Ironman series was better suited to Videocraft’s unique FlyPack mobile production solution than a traditional OB truck set up. The system chosen for the series was Videocraft’s mid-range FlyPack that included six Sony HDC1500 cameras, a Sony MVS6000 switcher, two EVS servers, two CCU positions, a Yamaha M7 console providing full audio facilities and all outboard equipment, radio mics and links. Palmer said, “We’ve worked with Videocraft on OBs before so we were confident they would come up with the best solution. They researched previous Ironman events and presented us with a range of options. Their mid-range FlyPack was clearly the way to go. To be honest they didn’t have a lot of time to pull the system together and prep it in Sydney before shipping it over to the first race in Perth so it was all systems go at that point.” The Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Surf Ironman Series features the country’s elite athletes competing in the most gruelling ocean-based competition on the planet. The 2012/13 series was fought out over six rounds at iconic Australian beaches including Perth, Newcastle, Portsea, Surfers Paradise, Coolum and Noosa Heads with all six races broadcast nationally on Network Ten. Palmer continued, “There was no room for error as getting spare equipment in Perth wasn’t an option. The Videocraft team really went the extra mile and all the kit turned up for the first race working perfectly. Each race broadcast also had the added challenge of keeping all the sand and salt water at bay so the logistics were quite tricky too.” The Ironman series ran from December 2012 to February 2013, a very busy period for Videocraft as Liell explained, “In addition to Ironman we were also working on the Australian Tennis Open and The Tour Down Under at the same time. The only way to manage three huge events like these simultaneously is to have an experienced team, proven systems and good, reliable equipment.” Videocraft’s additional challenges for the Ironman series included ensuring all of the equipment worked to its maximum capacity with significant redundancy as each race was shot as a live event, irrespective of any delayed broadcast times. Slow motion capture also proved a potential sticking point. John Palmer concluded, “We asked Videocraft for a more cost effective slow-mo solution, something that would be a good alternative to using traditional super slow-mo cameras. In typical Videocraft fashion they came up with a new Sony NEXFS700 camera using a Canon 30-300mm cine lens. This enabled our camera operators to capture slow-mo action content for play on/off packages at more than 200 frames per second. Very clever, very cost effective. All in all it was a great series and all credit to Andy Liell and the entire Videocraft team including Rentals Manager Nick Gleeson and Systems Technician Glen Beaumont without who we simply wouldn’t have achieved such an excellent result.” For more information on Castle Media Group go to: www.castlemedia.com.au
Videocraft Helps Coldplay Play in Sydney For Southern Cross Austereo Live Streaming VIP Gig
When one of the world’s biggest bands is invited to do a VIP gig in your hometown as part of a world tour according to Videocraft NSW State Manager Any Liell, the production has to be nothing short of perfect. Liell explained, “Recently Coldplay were scheduled to play an intimate VIP gig for 2DayFM Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) at Trackdown Studios and Craig Borg, SCA’s Technical Production Manager called Videocraft to help with the video side of the production. Was this something we had done successfully countless times before? Yes. Were we just a little bit nervous as it was one of the most successful bands of recent times known for their immaculate production values? Maybe just a little.” Borg outlined SCA’s requirements for the production which included multi-camera coverage for the live web stream through SCA’s website plus a very quick turnaround into edit for news packages. “That was the first thing we had to make sure was airtight”, continued Liell, “The gig was live to air so it was clear we needed traditional OB-type redundancies in place. Then SCA needed a sixty second news cut and a tidied up programme cut to be put up on their website within minutes of the event finishing. There was only one way to achieve this and that was to use an EVS-based solution.” With the speed and high profile of the gig Liell and Borg agreed that an EVS-based solution was the only one available to them that would take care of all the production’s tight requirements with the least possibility of failure or error. SCA’s Vision Production Manager Craig Borg explained, “We had five streams of HD video from five Sony HDC-1500 cameras plus a programme stream that had to be captured onto the EVS XS server, then pushed off via an EVS IP Director onto our on site Avid Media Composer system in record time; and I’m delighted to say that it was. At the end of a 40-minute set we had all 6 streams in full HD on our storage system ready to edit within moments. In fact four of the streams were instantly available and the remaining two were available a few minutes later. It was a very successful and very efficient production thanks to Videocraft and the EVS.” Directing the band’s coverage at the gig was Jakub Jacko who added, “Videocraft provided all of the technical equipment and logistics for the live coverage of the performance. We treated it as we would any broadcast event for which I have fairly exacting standards and Videocraft delivered a very professional result and a very capable team. Having a broadcast mentality regardless of distribution chain means high quality production values and standards. The team was flexible, professional and easily able to manage all the spontaneous requirements that came up.” The Videocraft production also featured their highly successful Videocraft FlyPack which is based around the Panasonic AV-HS450 vision switcher and Videocraft also purpose built a TD station using Sony OLED monitoring and provided onsite technical assistance for the entire gig. Craig Borg concluded, “Let’s be honest, it’s Coldplay so the gig had to be first class and I’m happy to say it was. Videocraft really do excel at this type of production and nothing is too hard or too much trouble. They are efficient and great to work with but I do have to say that in this instance their turnaround time to edit was so good and so fast that it really warrants another special mention all to itself.”
Videocraft Helps Create Magical Tales
After the success of their recent TV series Larry the Lawnmower (aka Larry), according to production company Ambience Entertainment’s producer on the show Monica O’Brien, there were only two things that were guaranteed for the company’s next project ‘William & Sparkles’ Magical Tales’, “The XDCAM workflow we developed for Larry and using Videocraft for the equipment and support!” Magical Tales is an exciting series specifically designed to captivate and entertain the minds of pre-school children where, in each half hour episode, the audience are invited into the world of Sparkles the Fairy and William the Wizard. Monica O’Brien explained, “The smooth production run we had with Larry the Lawnmower was due in no small part to the amazing sales, service and support we got from Andy Liell and his team at Videocraft. Bearing this in mind, when Magical Tales was green lit I immediately called Andy to discuss our requirements for the shoot.” William and Sparkles’ Magical Tales consists of forty-six 30-minute episodes to be aired on Channel 9 throughout March and April, Monday to Friday at 3.30pm. O’Brien continued, “The workflow we developed with Videocraft for Larry was not only unique but incredibly efficient. We had a couple of extra challenges with Magical Tales though, which meant that process had to be further expanded.” One of the main differences was that Larry the Lawnmower was based around a single camera drama workflow whereas Magical Tales was to use a multi-camera ‘switching live to tape’ workflow. “In addition to the change of workflows we also shot Magical Tales at Down Under Studios in Mount Kuringai, a great location but with no OB set-up for multi camera shoots.” Added O’Brien. “At this point it was Andy, over to you! I went straight to Videocraft and asked if we could do a multi-camera switching show on XDCAM HD and if we could set up our own mini production system at the studio as they had no OB facilities. I must say I wasn’t surprised when Andy said that it could all be done. Just how easily Videocraft did it was very much a surprise though.” Liell and his team proposed Videocraft’s unique Fly Away Production kit. “Or Mobile Production System as it’s also known.” Said Liell. “The system is all based around the Panasonic AV-HS400 HD/SD Vision Switcher and literally comes in one portable roadcase. The real beauty of this system is that it acts as a hub allowing up to an 8 camera set up and clients can use any camera in the Videocraft range from the PMWEX1 XDCAM EX camera and Panasonic HPX302s to the SONY HDC1500 studio cameras. The system is easy to configure with colour-coded connectors, has a lot of flexibility and is used in many configurations. The Panasonic AV-HS400 accepts a variety of video and PC input options and up or down converts and scales the signal to suit the programme format. In this instance we even fed the electronic slates from director Ian Munroe’s MacBook Pro straight into the switcher and it all worked perfectly in HD.” Monica O’Brien added, “The Fly Away Production kit was a revelation to us. Videocraft effectively produced a compact end-to-end solution that did everything we asked. Our director Ian Munroe was very happy as he got everything he needed including excellent monitoring and all the operators were delighted too.” The Videocraft Fly Away system allowed a 3 XDCAM HD multi-camera set up with the on-set Technical Director controlling all three cameras. In addition director Ian Munroe was able to switch the live camera feed which was also being recorded. “This meant we went into post with a rough cut ready to go and with the ability to re-edit it with individual camera feeds.” Said O’Brien. “It’s also the first time Ambience have used the XDCAM HD workflow in this configuration, and it was seamless. Utlising Sony's XDCAM transfer application, we were again able to transfer the files faster than realtime into Final Cut Pro to deliver a fast-turnaround offline cut which really pays dividends, especially in post.” Ambience used PDW700 and PDWF800 cameras which according to O’Brien, did the job perfectly. She added, “We controlled and painted cameras as we went. We then recorded to the PDWHD1500 XDCAM deck that we bought from Videocraft for Larry and also recorded ISO to each camera, which is an efficient and affordable alternative to traditional triax or fibre studio cameras and ISO VTR machines. At the end of the day’s shooting we got a main switched master tape which was 90% fit for broadcast, however having all that extra coverage from the ISO recordings on XDCAM makes it much faster to find the shots you need to finish it off.” Omnilab Media’s CornerPost facility provided the post-production workflow by embracing the Final Cut Pro-ProRes offline path utilising the file-based workflow directly off the XDCAM Professional Disc media. This allowed them to work in ProRes reducing storage requirements without compromising image quality. Then, instead of re-ingesting all tapes at conform, CornerPost did a direct playout to HDCAM and XDCAM masters for audio playout. O’Brien added, “The CornerPost team were amazing. They really got into the spirit of Magical Tales. One other significant point to note is that we used the low cost PDWU1 XDCAM disk drive from Videocraft for ingest. Normally you need one Digi Beta deck at the studio and one at the post house which equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars in kit. With our XDCAM workflow the deck is in the studio and the disk drive was at CornerPost for a fraction of that cost. There was no need to colour grade as the cameras were matched and painted by the CCU operator at the studio which also meant that we could turn an entire episode around in 48 hours including mastering out to XDCAM HD and HDCAM. We even pulled promotional stills off the HD footage as the quality was so good!” Andy Liell added, “In addition to the Fly Away full multi-camera production system we also supplied tallies, intercom, camera control, video distribution technical and production monitoring. Ambience are very forward thinking in terms of efficiencies so we were very pleased to be able to help them achieve exactly what was required in terms of working within their budget and timeframe.” Monica O’Brien concluded, “As a producer you want things to be as easy and painless as possible. Dealing with Videocraft is like that. You just call them, tell them what you want and they do it all. Not only that they always exceed your expectations and they are always friendly. In the case of Magical Tales Andy and Rentals Manager Nick Gleeson showed up, installed the kit within 2 hours and we started shooting by the end of the day. The fact is, by using this type of workflow and expertise, shooting in HD is simply not expensive any more and by using Videocraft it’s also problem free.” Magical Tales begins airing on Channel 9 from 5 March, 2010.
Hi-5 for Videocraft
According to Nick Gleeson, Videocraft’s Rentals Manager, the equipment and workflow they provided to Southern Star Entertainment for Hi-5 Series 11 was some of the most seamless yet for the highly successful and popular children’s television programme. Southern Star Entertainment produce Hi-5 on behalf of the Hi-5 joint venture between the Nine Network and Southern Star Entertainment. Gleeson explained, “Videocraft have had a successful relationship with Southern Star and Jim Walpole (senior cameraman on the shoot) dating back from when we supplied equipment for the RAGGS children’s show, series 2 and 3. Thus when Southern Star began pre-production on Hi-5 series 11, the first under Southern Star, they asked us, along with several other rental companies, to quote on all the production equipment.” Southern Star went through a vigorous and comprehensive assessment process of Australia’s top rental equipment companies, one that required Gleeson and his team to be at the top of their game. He continued, “Southern Star chose to shoot on Digital Betacam, a format we have had a great deal of experience with over the years. When they had completed their evaluation, our experience and knowledge of the format were big factors in their decision to use Videocraft for Hi-5 series 11.” The equipment used on the show was broken down into components and segments with ‘Song of the Week' shot at Silk Studios in Willoughby and the rest of the production in the ABC’s Artarmon studios. For the 'Song of the week' live recording, Videocraft supplied a 4-camera OB setup with four DVW970P camcorders ISO recording, a Technical Director’s station with technical monitoring and routing, alongside distribution and video monitoring for the director and production staff. Gleeson continued, “To keep within the show’s budget, the Artarmon studio shoot consisted of two cameras along with a Technical Director’s station, technical monitoring and a Panasonic MX70 Vision switcher to allow checking of the chroma keying levels to avoid ‘road blocks’ later in special effects. This setup was the most cost effective and efficient solution for this major, fast moving production.” Hi-5 Facilities Manager Bruce Dufty, said, “We were impressed with Videocraft’s level of service and support and their knowledge of efficient workflows. We particularly liked the ease of matching two Sony DVW970 cameras together through the Technical Director’s station they supplied. I found Videocraft carefully considered all the best options with a view to making the whole digital process as seamless as possible. A job well done.” Due to strict time constraints Hi-5 series 11 is shot on Digital Betacam with cameras on pedestals and a dolly fitted with a mini jib to allow lots of different setups throughout the day. Tapes are passed to on-set editors and off-line begins almost immediately on site. The show involves many green screen shots and pieces to camera with the cast often singing and dancing. Nick Gleeson said, “Hi-5 series 11 is a very typical and successful rental project for Videocraft. After careful consultation with the client we provided the best equipment and workflow to suit their requirements. In terms of support we installed, set up and configured the cameras with the TD station at each location and were responsible for moving our facilities from the Song of the Week location to the second studio location. We also supplied and installed cabling for monitoring throughout the facility. I’m pleased to say all of this has gone very smoothly and we are already looking forward to the next project with Southern Star.” Bruce Dufty concluded, “Our shooting schedule was hectic to say the least, so we needed a rental company we could rely on. I’m delighted to say that Videocraft delivered. They’re very much a company with all of the necessary equipment and provided us with kit that our staff are highly familiar with and support equipment available immediately as required. "Thankfully we had only one minor issue on series 11, that was quickly resolved with no downtime. However, it was great to have the added confidence and to be safe in the knowledge that Videocraft support was only minutes away when we needed it. Needless to say, we’re very pleased with Videocraft’s excellent service.” Hi-5’s Casey Burgess, Tim Maddren, Lauren Brant, Stevie Nicholson and Fely Irvine will hit screens August 31, 2009 on the Nine Network.
Ambience Entertainment embraces new HD workflow with Videocraft
Videocraft, the leading broadcast equipment sales and rental company, supplied a Sony XDCAM HD solution to Ambience Entertainment for its new children’s TV series Larry the Lawnmower, opening the door to a groundbreaking new workflow. Glenn Fraser, one of the three directors on the Larry the Lawnmower series explained Ambience’s decision to use the new equipment and workflow. “We knew there was going to be a developing requirement for HD content for children's series like LARRY, and the existing HD acquisition strategies were either too expensive or weren't fully developing the rounded look we thought could be achieved. This XDCAM HD solution came along at just the right time. It might feel like there's a new flavour of HD turning out every six months, but when it comes to practicalities, there are really only a few things to consider. Number one being, ‘is your acquired picture considered real HD by the partners to whom you’re looking to deliver your deliverables?’ The pinnacle of HD delivery is still pretty much the BBC standard - most of the other broadcasters take their lead from them, so if you can tick the acceptable acquisition criteria that they demand, you're pretty much safe. Secondly, you've got to ensure that the uplift to HD isn't going to outweigh the programme's delivery opportunities. It's not much good feeling sexy about having HD at the front end if you don't have the processing power or storage to run the extent of your series without burning drive space. It's a false economy. The PDW-700's clever compression algorithm means that it's possible to get your pictures travelling back and forth in a good stream at 50Mbs. And all that in full raster 1920x1080.” Videocraft’s involvement began even before the project had been green lit with NSW State Manager Andy Liell consulting to the Ambience team and suggesting a package that included the PDWHD1500 Sony Professional Disc Recorder, PDW700 Sony Professional XDCAM® HD Camcorders and PDWU1 Professional Disc Drive Units. Once the package was agreed Liell and colleague Rob Floro conducted extensive testing on the kit with Fraser, cameramen Brad Smith and Richard Rowley, Series Producer Monica O’Brien and Senior Production Manager Kate Cooper. Smith added, “The progressive pictures the PDW700 delivers are without doubt, the knockout clincher. These cameras and this workflow bring HD back to levels that, although slightly more than Digibeta, are very affordable and give all the advantages of tape and non-linear. It’s the top of the line in XD evolution.” With Ambience’s budget having to cover 65 half-hour programmes for Channel Seven, editing and storage also became key deciding factors. “We investigated a variety of platforms for editing.” Explained O’Brien. “Omnilab Media’s CornerPost facility provided the ultimate post production workflow by embracing the Final Cut Pro-ProRes offline path utilising the elegant file-based workflow directly off the XDCAM Professional Disc media. This allowed us to work in ProRes reducing our storage requirements but without compromising the image quality. As the schedule is tight the only way for us to get through 65 half hours was for us to further utilise the XDCAM workflow in a way that we haven’t been able to do previously due to cost and time constraints. We did this by using a media manager on set who, with a running knowledge of the scripts and the series' goals, would be the first pair of eyes across the footage being delivered by two camera units every day. Her job, to collate the good, the bad and the very useful, into a bank of reusable locations, and character expressions. Then employing Sony's XDCAM transfer application, transfer the files 1.5 times faster than real time into Final Cut Pro to deliver a fast-turnaround offline cut. Instead of re-ingesting all tapes at conform, we do a picture lock-off in FCP and playout to the AVID DS HD Nitris suite for grading and titles.” Adam Spendlove, CornerPost’s technical engineer said, “After extensive testing this was by far the most efficient workflow taking into account the time issues we were challenged with”. Larry the Lawnmower is shot in a visualised studio space created by veteran designer Michael Bridges and imaginatively light-sculpted by Peter Borosh, ACS, and gaffer Graham Dickson. The Directors and the LARRY crew deal with a child's eye view of LARRY THE LAWNMOWER that is a hyper-realised world and exists within the backyard of a large suburban garden. Similar to Doctor Who’s Tardis, it is a place of seemingly infinite size and opportunity for the characters. Due to the fast turnaround schedule for episodes, the team were having to workably effect choice on a textural scale, and decided most efficiency was gained by doing 95% of their work in camera. Everything is bright, and richly detailed - grand, green lawns and azure skies - it is something like leafy, suburban Australia in miniature with puppets. “With such a huge amount of work to be undertaken, the Videocraft team, led by Andy Liell, have truly been pivotal to the success of the project thus far.” Fraser continued, “Videocraft's services and assistance have been nothing short of exceptional. In testing workflows via their Final Cut Pro setups they were always quick to initiate solutions, not sales. As a reasonably confident technician at this level myself, it would have been easy to see through a sales patter, but the experiential wealth they were able to honestly share meant that they were genuinely interested in the truth of the tests. The level of Rob and Andy’s technical and hands-on expertise meant that I never felt compromised and always felt supported.” Monica O’Brien concluded, “We are absolutely delighted with the XDCAM HD solution and the service and support from Videocraft. This is a real benchmark. As a result, HD productions are now truly affordable due to the efficiency of the XDCAM workflow. The argument that HD is too expensive just doesn’t hold up any more. We just couldn’t do this amount of episodes in the time we have without this workflow - it’s that simple. Andy, Rob and the whole team at Videocraft have been phenomenal. I have never experienced such amazing service and you can quote me on that!”