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Passion 2013 Conference, Part 2

Apr 18, 2013 10:39 AM, With Bennett Liles

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In part one we were talking about the Harris Platinum routers that you used. You had to have some kind of a very big plan on how these were going to be connected and all of the sources assigned with no more time than you had to get everything ready.

Well, I think a key to it was, you know, our staff engineers, our two EIC’s in particular, Rob Devlin and Andrew Humphries, went out of their way to prep before we got onsite primarily for the inputs and outputs. Identifying what the sources were and what their destinations were going to be was the hard part, but doing all that on paper before we got on site made it almost just like a check list, almost a to-do list once we got on site. But our router serves a lot of functions. The shaders use it to control their shading monitors. Producers use it at front of house to see various cameras. The lighting staff uses it to make sure that their lighting is appropriate and then we use it for bouncing signals around the truck itself. You know as I mentioned, that multiviewer is integrated with our router, so all the people—be it staff or freelance—that want to see a multiviewer for whatever reason, that also sources from the router, so we need to make sure to have a lot of router control panels in place. That’s both in the truck and in the venue. We need to make sure to be able to update these router panels with the most up-to-date inputs and outputs, and the fact that there’s just so many signals. Again, the 23 cameras, the 26 record machines, we had to make sure to be able to balance all of those around quickly and efficiently and make changes on the fly. The Harris Platinum router, across all of our trucks, really does an excellent job of that. [Timestamp: 6:53]

A lot to do and very little time to do it. Was the timeframe for this the biggest challenge of the show or just the tremendous complexity of it?

You know, I’m proud to say I’ve worked in television for about 20 years now and I think the idiom is true. You basically have as much time to load in as you need, whether you get three days or three hours, you know, somehow you always manage to get it done in the time allotted. You know, if you were to ask me a few years ago if a 23-camera shoot were possible on a single-day load in, I’d say no way. But we did it. We worked as a team, and it was a big team. There were so many different camera configurations. Long lens and handheld doesn’t even scratch the surface. We had six long lenses. We had wireless handhelds, two steady cams, two jibs. We had seven dollies on dolly track between 40ft. and 80ft. We had robotic cameras hung from the center lighting cluster. We had a tower cam. We had a Furio robotic dolly. We had a flying aerial camera. And all this got done in a very short amount of time. [Timestamp: 7:56]

Well, it was a magnificent feat and it’s amazing when it always comes off so well. I guess with all of that, if some little things go wrong you probably don’t even notice it.

We refer to those as the gnats. The rule is you don’t let the gnats get you. You know, it’s easy enough to get 23 cameras up and going, but you have to make sure tally is perfect on all the cameras. You have to make sure intercom is perfect for every utility, working with every dolly camera. You know, the details matter and like I said, we were fortunate enough to kick off the first show of the week with every system in place and working. And again, I think most of that comes down to having the right team. [Timestamp: 8:33]

Well, you’ve got this one under your belt, so what’s coming up next for TNDV Television?

You know, it’s tough to look ahead and be intimidated by other shows after 26 cameras, but I’m proud to say we’re going back in the cave for the Emmy Award-winning Bluegrass Underground music event. That is a bluegrass show shot for PBS nationally 1,000ft. underground in a cave. We’ll be shooting season three of Bluegrass Underground coming up in a few weeks. Award show season is gone for the country, but still just getting cooking for us. We have country music award events coming up left and right, and as I mentioned we have our newest truck, “Vibration,” a 256-input audio truck that’s hitting the road and doing its first few events this month, so we’re excited about adding “Vibration” to the fleet. So a busy time coming up for us. [Timestamp: 9:21]

Wow. Shooting banjos in a cave. That could bring on some interesting acoustics.

It sounds fabulous. You know, last season we were lucky enough to have special guests like the Civil Wars and The Time Jumpers, and I know the lineup for season three already includes the Old Crow Medicine Show and some other fascinating bands. So the national audience for PBS has really latched onto Bluegrass Underground and we’re really proud to be a part of it, especially now that they can call themselves Emmy Award winning. They received Emmy Awards for season one. We’ve been with them since season two, so we’re really looking forward to this newest week of taping. [Timestamp: 9:57]

Well, it’s been great listening to the technical story on this. The Passion 2013 Conference at the Georgia Dome covered by TNDV Television out of Nashville and Nic Dugger. Thanks for giving us the behind-the-scenes story on this one.

Absolutely. Look forward to seeing you on one of our trucks soon.

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