When Beyond needed production solutions for their Challenge children’s TV series they turned to Videocraft for help. Their shows – Pipsqueaks, Toybox and Lab Rats Challenge are all original Australian concepts and broadcast both domestically and overseas. Beyond Producer Director Ian Munro explained, “For Toybox and Pipsqueaks our studio space came with no technical equipment so we were looking for a cost effective solution. Videocraft’s FlyPack kit provided all that we needed. These shows are switched, drama style, multi-camera productions requiring CCU, a switcher, cameras on pedestals and talkback communications as well as main and backup record. There are musical elements in the shows that also require 2 or 3-camera ISO recording and the Videocraft kit’s router also enables that when required.” The premise of Toybox is toys coming to life and having adventures in a child’s bedroom. To help create the illusion Beyond built sections of a bedroom at 5:1 scale and a matching complete bedroom at 1:1 scale for chroma key backgrounds.
Munro added, “There is a considerable amount of chroma key in Toybox and fortunately the Panasonic switcher in the Videocraft FlyPack has enough options for us to make trial keys. It’s also useful as a reference for camera colourimetry and to fine tune lighting. With the switcher’s ability to shrink and position foregrounds we are able to match angles and correct eye lines. We are also able to record clean shots direct for higher quality keying in post and at the same time watch the live reference key to check for possible problems and cropping.”
The production’s chroma key backgrounds are shots taken in the 1:1 set and Beyond now has many of the more common backgrounds stored in the FlyPack’s mixer as stills for quick shooting. The show also has two actors in full characters suits with Videocraft supplying independent IFB channels for each one enabling them to hear other actors on programme audio and the director’s talkback.
Pipsqueaks uses the same Videocraft FlyPack kit but set to HD for switched multi-camera and ISO recording. As Pipsqueaks is a programme involving puppetry there are additional challenges which Videocraft were again quick to provide solutions for.
Munro continued, “In a big set the puppeteers require numerous reverse scan monitors to perform. One option would be to go to a bigger switching desk with the ability to flip images on a separate layer but this is beyond our budget and small OLED monitors which offer the reverse option are too small for puppeteers to use across a big set. We were looking for a cost effective solution and Videocraft spent some time checking out possibilities and found a small converter they could feed into the router – happy days!”
The third show in the series, Lab Rats Challenge, is a multi-camera science game show. Due to its unpredictable content it requires all cameras to be ISO recorded – another challenge met and overcome by Videocraft.
Munro explained, “While the studio is fully equipped with technical gear the studio wasn’t able to dedicate six ISO recordings. We approached Videocraft to help and they designed a recording and post-production path within our budget, supplying and installing an EVS system to record all the cameras and the switcher output. The only issue was, for a one off production period, it wasn’t feasible to cable the EVS to the Avid. So Videocraft created a simple system of multiple portable raid drives to get the material from the studio to the edit suite. Videocraft also trained our crew to run the system and even though we were interstate, supplied support immediately when we needed it.”
With three shows to produce, tight budgets to adhere to and seemingly ever-shrinking timelines it’s become more important than ever for Beyond productions to have an equipment supplier and systems integrator that they can trust and rely on.
Ian Munro concluded, “I have always appreciated the help and care Videocraft have given us when designing an appropriate system to fit a show’s needs, especially when the budgets are tight. Working in the lower budget end of production on children’s television, you sometimes feel like the poor cousin but Videocraft have always understood and been totally accommodating. The end result is that we have been able to make extremely efficient television with great production values.”
The latest series of Toybox starts on 7Two on 28 August.
For more information on Beyond Productions go to: www.beyond.com.au