When Harpo, Oprah Winfrey’s production company, first decided they were going to put on the Opera House Spectaculars, according to Videocraft Project Manager Dan Miall, they had one specific requirement, “To recreate the editing, post production and IT facilities they use in Chicago in Sydney.”
Harpo initially approached Avid USA who in turn put them in touch with Avid Australia and Videocraft.
Miall explained, “Harpo are an incredibly professional production company. To that end they were very specific in their technical requirements all of which were based around renting a series of Avid Unity Isis and Interplay systems.”
As Harpo did their due diligence they discovered that Videocraft were the company in Australia who could provide exactly what equipment and infrastructure they needed to produce the Sydney Opera House shows for Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure.
Miall continued, “We met with Radi Akel, Harpo’s General Manager, during the Commonwealth Games and showed him the OB edit system we had installed at Foxtel which took care of all the games’ highlights for Fox Sports. Radi was impressed and so we sat down to plan exactly what would be required for Oprah’s Sydney shows.”
In all Videocraft provided eleven high-end edit suites with 64Tb of storage and Interplay digital asset management.
Miall explained, “This was a major installation. The kit list included multiple Avid Media Composer Nitris DXs, Sony LMD-2450W 20-inch LCD professional video production monitors, Dynaudio Acoustics BM5A two-way Active Nearfield Monitors, Interplay Assist stations, Tektronix WFM5000 Multi-Format Waveform Monitors and Yamaha A/V. They really were eleven top of the line edit and post production suites.”
In addition to the editing and post production facilities Videocraft also provided Harpo with all of their IT requirements which included 60 laptops, 18Tb of storage, printers, active directory sharepoint and integration.
Dan Miall added, “This was one of the biggest and most unique temporary installations Videocraft has ever done. We knew we had to provide all of Harpo’s editing, post and IT requirements for two live shows and two tape-based shows at the Sydney Opera House, but then came the really tricky part – everything had to be installed on the 12th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel in just two days. In other words we had to build and convert the entire floor of a hotel into a fully functioning post facility in 48 hours.”
With the project given the green light Miall and the Videocraft team began the unique installation and hotel floor conversion. In the meantime Harpo gave further details of the shows’ format. To celebrate 25 years of the Oprah Winfrey show 302 audience members from the USA came to Australia with the talk show Queen armed with mini DV cameras with which they were to record their adventures.
Miall explained, “The audience members’ footage was recorded and ingested as low res .wmv files. The files were then logged in Chicago where the producers chose the shots they wanted and then these files were ingested for a second time into the Avid suites we built at the Intercontinental Hotel. The Sydney suites were then used to cut packages ready for broadcast within 24 hours. As often there were many versions of different packages, the suites had to run very smoothly and very efficiently, which I’m delighted to say they all did.”
Commenting on the production of the Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure shows Harpo General Manager Radi Akel said, “Everyone at Harpo was amazed and delighted with what Videocraft did for us. The central equipment room they built was awesome and the level of equipment they provided along with their service was second to none. We discovered early in the project that they were the best company in Australia who could put this kind of system together and it became very clear why over the course of our time in Sydney. The installation was 100% on time and the entire Videocraft team were incredibly professional, flexible and nothing was ever too much trouble. They gave us everything we needed with a smile and a kind word – even when we switched from XDCAM to HDCAM one week before the shows were to be recorded. I really cannot thank Dan Miall and the entire Videocraft team enough for what was a seamless and perfectly executed project.”