Talking Tech: The Gadget Show Live 2015

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April saw the return of The Gadget Show Live 2015 to The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Birmingham, including the famous Super Theatre performances. During these live one hour shows, presenters from the series reviewed the latest consumer technology, took on challenges and performed high octane stunts. For the fifth consecutive show, Fonix LED Limited, who were tasked with supplying the visual and structural elements for the live shows, supplied LED screens and a live production workflow featuring Blackmagic’s ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K.

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The scale of the set design has grown over the past five shows, and this years installation involved a 40 metre x 4 metre curved wide screen, with an 8mm pitch. Being split up into seven 16:9 displays, and flown above the stage and talent, it provided a close up view of the stage performances for the 4000 strong audience. As well as this unique solution, the Super Theatre also involved three 6m x 4m 18mm LED screens, providing a graphic back drop and an extra display when needed. The Fonix team also used multiple inputs and multiple auxiliary outputs on the Blackmagic production switcher to feed different images to each of the seven screens and with the introduction of Fonix's multi widescreen display system, the production team was able treat the entire display area as one giant image.

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“We covered a large stage show featuring a variety of acts based on The Gadget Show television format. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday consisted of two shows per day, and Saturday and Sunday consisted of three shows a day, all of which were just over one hour each, and all live. Three rehearsals took place on the day before the first live show,” explains Fonix’s Colin Parnell – Gadget Show Live camera director.

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“At the heart of these live shows was an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K. However, during the live performances due to the inclusion of domestic items, such as games consoles, drones and PCs, it was necessary to use HDMI. Preferring the reliability and distance capabilities of SDI, we used multiple scalers and Blackmagic Mini Converters to get the range of different sources into the switcher.

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“Each auxiliary output was then sent to each of the seven screens. We used the ATEM 2 M/E Broadcast Panel to create a master cut of the show whilst a separate operator on an ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel controlled the auxiliaries, separating the screens at the required times during a live show. We also relied on an ATEM Television Studio, with its four HDMI inputs, as a sub mixer to our main switcher for graphics and VTs and the show was recorded onto two HyperDeck Studio Pros, a main and a backup.

“Blackmagic’s ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio and matching broadcast panel is an extremely powerful and versatile live production switcher with 20 inputs, 6 auxiliary outputs and 2 mix effects which we make full use of as well as the ethernet connectivity, which allows multiple users to carry out multiple tasks during a live show. At this price point, no other live event multi camera workflow is as powerful.”

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