The International Cricket Hall of Fame (ICHOF), the world’s first fully interactive, permanent exhibition of cricket is being built at Bradman Oval in Bowral, NSW, creating a living centre of cricket, not only dedicated to the history of cricket, but also showcasing all forms of the international modern game through the latest interactive technology.
Recently The Bradman Museum in Bowral received $6.5 million of funding from the Federal Government to develop and build the site which will house the ICHOF. Sydney-based Surfside Productions were brought in to shoot a large number of interviews of former and current cricket greats to be shown on the site. The design of the new building includes an interactive experience on touch-screen monitors and a number of high definition displays. According to Surfside Productions’ Sean Mulcahy there was a comprehensive decision process on which format to use, which equipment to buy and which supplier to go to to help with the entire workflow.
Mulcahy explained, “From our point of view we had been working with tape based solutions from day one and therefore a data solution that could be utilised in Avid couldn’t come soon enough. XDCAM was the obvious choice, as handing over a low cost disc at the end of the day was the ideal scenario for us. The ICHOF project had to be shot in HD, data based and the workflow needed to be very reliable – all of which XDCAM covers off beautifully.”
Mulcahy says Surfside Productions have been working with XDCAM for some time, “Sony had researched XDCAM for a number of years in two previous generations of the format, so the recording system had already been put through its paces. If the networks had taken another format we would have had to look at going down that route too, however the fact that TEN, NINE and SEVEN bought it and so many productions houses were looking at it was enough for us to jump in and we have been extremely happy with the purchase. It has worked very well for us from day one.”
When undertaking the ICHOF project Mulcahy had very specific reasons for choosing XDCAM, “The first one was obvious – it was HD. It is also affordable and the practicalities of using a data based HD system for this project worked well. Second was the archiving process, XDCAM discs have over 50 years of storage life and that was enough to get through in terms of museum archiving and security in relation to the interviews and material that would be transferred onto it. HD, the price, the cost compared to an HDCAM and the fact that quality would be better than the HDV really did make it quite a simple decision. In terms of practical ability for jobs like the ICHOF that require shooting and editing with quick a turnaround, XDCAM is hard to beat.”
For the ICHOF project Mulcahy shot documentary-style interviews for more than an hour in an electronic field production-style set up in a studio or on location and also a number of situations involving cricket matches, crowds, vox-pops, vision and the overlay of various cricketing grounds and sporting venues.
When searching for the best equipment supplier Mulcahy and his team had a wide range of options. “To be honest the main reason we went with Videocraft is the service that Andy Liell and his team offer. They promised, when we bought the camera, that they would be available 24 hours a day to help with any issues that might arise. I’m delighted to say it was true and they were there to help us learn and work with the camera from the very beginning. Videocraft are very competitive anyway, however the camera and the after sales support were superb – I can’t say enough positive things about Andy and the team. It also really helped having Rob Floro there with his Avid system support expertise and as a result, the XDCAM’s integration into Avid went very well too.”
With such a high profile set of interviewees the quality and efficiency of the workflow was one that Mulcahy had to be very conscious of. He said, “The proxy video workflow is excellent, in terms of ease. I was able to e-mail or FTP the proxys to the client and they could integrate them easily into their edit, get the disc and reconform it with the HD material. Another useful method was to bring the disc home, simply copy the file structure onto a portable hard drive and courier it up to the client. Then they sent me back the hard drive and we repeated the process. So from our point of view the opportunities and possibilities are endless with the format, Avid loves it, the pictures are brilliant and the whole system works very well.”
Mulcahy has utilised much of the XDCAM’s functionality and sees a bright future for the format and the ICHOF, “The feature on the camera that has worked extraordinarily well is the switchable formats – going from standard definition to HD is very handy. The continuous clip function makes a big difference to the ingest process in terms of bringing the data in and not having so many clips. The other thing that was very good is the optional external video input. This allows SD video to be upconverted and recorded as XDCAM HD in the camera. I’m delighted to say that the International Cricket Hall of Fame are very happy with the quality of the image and as a result, the interactive exhibit will be one of the most popular attractions within this incredibly worthwhile exhibition.”
The International Cricket Hall of Fame will open in late 2010.