Blackmagic Design Hits the Road with France's Festivisuel
It became clear to director Simon Gerland that further developing the company’s mobile broadcast capabilities from flyaway cases to a fully equipped production vehicle specifically designed for live streaming would not only help it be more efficient, but also refine its implementation processes.
“So many of our clients are now looking for professional streaming services, and given the growth of content watched on mobile devices, it made sense for this to be our priority distribution platform. But at the same time, a secondary objective was to retain the modular structure of flyaway kits, so that smaller stations could still function as standalone production units, as well as part of the van’s overarching workflow,” explains Simon.
This flexible set up was used to great effect at one of the van’s inaugural events, ‘Les Rencontres d’Aubrac’, an arts and literary festival that takes place in the rural setting of Averyron in the Pyrenees region of southern France. Simon explains that the team had to cover book readings, seminars and concerts across a variety of locations in the town. “We deployed two production units to cover the festival; one as a flyaway solution and the van itself. This allowed us to produce video content from even the most cramped of working spaces, as well as outdoor locations; the balance of flexibility and consistency enabled us to always maintain the same configuration, regardless of the event’s location.”
The van’s workflow has been designed to work with HD acquisition, however in order to facilitate high quality streaming, a Blackmagic Design Teranex 2D standards converter is installed alongside encoders to provide both noise reduction and down conversion from 1080i to 720p. “The Teranex is a critical element of our live streaming workflow, regardless of what kind of project we are executing,” explains Simon. “Whilst its compact 1RU size means that it fits into the van’s racks perfectly, it remains an extremely powerful tool and retains the quality of the original source material shot by the cameras we have on board the van.” The converted signal from the Teranex is fed to either an encoder or to a Mac Mini via an UltraStudio Express capture and playback device, ready for instant streaming using YouTube and LiveStream.
Although content delivery priorities may have changed, the team’s objective to produce broadcast quality video for every client has not. As such, the infrastructure installed in the van, as well as the vehicle’s layout have all been conceived with professional production in mind. “All of our production in the van is cut using an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K switcher from Blackmagic Design, which provides us with professional transitions and effects that suit our clients’ needs perfectly, whether adding lower thirds to conferences or SuperSource to produce picture in picture for a multi location production,” Simon continues.
Whilst the van has been developed for HD production, with Blackmagic Design equipment in place, Festivisuel will already be compatible with a 4K workflow in the future. “Live event production, particularly in the sports arena is already moving towards 4K, so it’s good to know that we have the ability to adapt to our clients’ needs, whenever that demand comes,” concludes Simon. “The flexibility, compatibility and ergonomics of the Blackmagic Design hardware mean that we have a reliable production unit that enables us to work in any location and produce whatever content is needed to deliver excellent quality video and broadcast out to thousands of viewers online.”