Date posted: March 12, 2015

Mobile production specialist supplies all live TV, audio and post services for BET and Centric, while bringing “Salute Selma” concert to viewers worldwide

Mobile production specialist TNDV was onsite in Selma, Alabama this past weekend to document a series of special events and concerts surrounding the Bloody Sunday 50th Anniversary, where President Barack Obama joined a crowd of thousands to commemorate the confrontation between police and peaceful protesters that spurred the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

TNDV’s Vibration audio truck was one of three TNDV production trucks onsite. Vibration provided the multitrack recording workflow for the Salute Selma concert on Sunday, March 8.

In addition to a lineup of influential speakers, the weekend included the Selma 50th Anniversary Concerts, which brought together local musicians and popular national artists for three concert events across Saturday and Sunday. TNDV provided audio, video and uplink facilities for the main “Salute Selma,” concert event on Sunday, featuring Rick Ross, Keith Sweat and other well-known musical acts. TNDV worked with cable networks BET and Centric to bring the concert to viewers worldwide via a live stream. A broadcast special will air this Sunday, March 15 on Centric.

In addition to the Salute Selma production, the TNDV team captured various events over the weekend to incorporate into the live webcast and Centric broadcast. This includes the commemorative march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge, in recognition of the 600 civil rights activists that crossed the bridge on March 7, 1965 during a 54-mile trek to the state capital.  Exclusive HD drone footage of the march, captured by TNDV President and Owner Nic Dugger from an aerial perspective above the bridge, can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/121626969.

The TNDV crew on the Edmund Pettis Bridge

Through the weekend, TNDV served as BET’s on-site TV facility, handling everything from live switching the high-end audio mixing and post. To accommodate the enormous size and scale of the production, TNDV brought three of its trucks—Elevation, Aspiration and its Vibration audio truck—to Selma, building a common networked architecture to share video and audio signal routing, monitoring and a multichannel intercom matrix across the entire production workflow.

“In a remote area like Selma, there are literally no technical facilities and few resources to assist in the production of a live TV show,” said Dugger. “This put the responsibilities on TNDV to accommodate the entire workflow from multi-camera acquisition to transmission, designating one truck each for video, audio and uplink services. Selma was deservedly under a unique spotlight this weekend in light of the Bloody Sunday anniversary, and the additional recent exposure through the movie and the Oscars. With an event of such historical value, the honor of being selected and trusted to execute this technical plan cannot be understated.”

The mobile production workflow across the three TNDV trucks included six Hitachi HD cameras, a Deko 3000 graphics station and Renewed Vision’s Pro Presenter system for media playout.  The audio workflow included 128 inputs from the stage to a Studer stage boxes, which were routed to a Studer Vista 9 console onboard the Vibration audio truck. Multitrack audio was managed on board Vibration as well, using a ProTools system with JoeCo recorders on backup.

“The TNDV crew did an excellent job on a very challenging production throughout the weekend in Selma,” said Monte Johnson, CEO of Showtek Productions, the company responsible for managing all broadcast and production elements over the weekend. “TNDV brings together a team of professionals that are truly passionate about their craft. They were a part of history this past weekend, and work of this level makes them not only a rare special breed in this industry, but deserves to make them famous.”

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Date posted: February 3, 2015

Multiple camera feeds, real-time social media integration and three live streams among the key production initiatives for the live music series

Mobile production specialist TNDV lent its video and audio expertise to the debut of Skyville Live, a new monthly music series streamed exclusively online to audiences worldwide from Skyville Live studios located the heart of Nashville. The series provides music lovers with an unprecedented live music series, bringing together today’s hottest stars in a unique and interactive way in front of an intimate audience—usually around 100 attendees.

TNDV provided full turnkey mobile production services, including multicam production, multitrack audio and streaming support from its Elevation truck

Beyond bringing its Elevation truck to the event, TNDV provided crewing and streaming services for the premiere event, which featured performances from Gladys Knight, Martina McBride and R&B artist Estelle. TNDV’s turnkey services incorporated a significant, interactive social media element to the program, using Renewed Vision’s Pro Presenter 5 software to generate a real-time administered Twitter feed in full-screen and lower-third formats.

“The debut of Skyville Live required a turnkey mobile production service to support several live, broadcast-quality web streams, along with a full crew to capture multiple camera angles for future use in post-production,” said Nic Dugger, owner and president, TNDV. “This shoot required a great deal of creative skill to capture the intimacy of the performances, and utilized our technology, expertise and crewing to achieve the desired production results.”

The eight-camera shoot captured the event from three perspectives for the live webcast, which was supported using TNDV’s signal encoding infrastructure on board Elevation; and multiplatform streaming delivery from Blue Scout Media, a CDN based in Texas. Viewers could switch between the live performances, captured using six Hitachi HD1000 cameras; a robotic camera following the production team working on Elevation; and a separate robotic camera to capture the performances from the backstage vantage point. All HD streams delivered a live multichannel audio mix produced on board Elevation.

TNDV additionally employed its Aja KiPro video recorders and ProTools audio recording system to capture the feeds for post-production. All multi-camera, multi-tracked content was delivered to Skyville Live producers following the event, with the goal of distributing a program to media outlets in the near future.

TNDV’s mobile production experience with programs such as Bluegrass Underground, a live performance series seen on PBS, and CMT Backstage were among the key reasons the Skyville Live team selected TNDV to deliver a full range of services beyond a standard mobile production shoot.

“We needed a full-service company like TNDV to capture the true essence of what Skyville Live is about:  bringing a mix of iconic acts, popular artists and emerging stars performing in an intimate setting to a worldwide audience using digital media platforms,” said Wally Wilson, Executive Producer, Skyville Live. “With music being at the forefront of the Skyville Live online experience, high-quality audio is one of the most important elements we looked for when considering production partners.”

 

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Date posted: January 12, 2015

Mobile production specialist brings the unusual and unexpected to “19 Kids And Counting”, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”

 

NASHVILLE, January 12, 2015 — The secretive nature of reality television is a big part of the allure for viewers of programs such as 19 Kids And Counting, punctuated by the record-setting 4.4 million viewers that tuned into Episode 9 this season.  Though viewers were aware they were tuning in for the wedding of Jill Duggar, one of the popular show’s principal stars, they were treated to unexpected guilty pleasures associated with the story that Reality TV fans enjoy.

The TNDV crew worked aside production company Figure 8 Films to delivery the unexpected in mobile production for 19 Kids And Counting: Jill’s Wedding

As Reality TV’s ongoing success is tied to the unusual and unexpected, the nontraditional approach of mobile production specialist TNDV has proven an ideal match for programs like 19 Kids And Counting and The Real Housewives of Atlanta — two shows that have recently relied on TNDV’s multi-camera expertise for special episodes.  TNDV also recently wrapped a multi-camera shoot for a second 19 Kids And Counting wedding — this one featuring Jessa Duggar — to air later in 2015.

“Most of the footage we shoot for these shows aren’t seen for weeks or even months,” said Nic Dugger, president and owner, TNDV, of his experience shooting the similarly surnamed 19 Kids and Counting family.  “While it’s fun to keep the plot twists under our hats, the real challenge is bringing our multi-camera experience to programs that are typically accustomed to single-camera, film-style shooting teams.”

TNDV’s flexible strategy for multi-camera shoots — Reality TV and otherwise — is fueled through its a la carte approach to mobile production, which carefully customizes the technology and workflow for each project.  The TNDV staff worked aside single-camera production teams from Figure 8 Films to strategize and enhance diversity in coverage, employing long lenses, jibs, Steadicams and robotic systems — all recorded independently along with multi-track audio.

With load-in and rehearsal time limited, Nic Dugger and his production crew at TNDV had limited time to prepare for the unexpected of reality TV - a situation where they excel

“In the world of Reality TV, thinking on your feet and quickly changing course are valuable assets,” said Scott Enlow, producer and director, Figure 8 Films.  “Although we usually operate with an extremely mobile crew of 8-12 members for 19 Kids And Counting, bringing TNDV on didn’t hamper or slow production one bit.  Nic and his crew brought a problem-solving approach to challenges with a great attitude, and were willing to adapt to last minute changes with professionalism and ease.  TNDV was a great asset and contributed greatly to our highest rated episode in the show’s history, as well as the highest ratings for TLC in nearly five years.  I won’t hesitate to bring them on again, whenever or wherever the need arises.”

TNDV has used two different trucks, Elevation and Inspiration, for the two Duggar wedding episodes.  For the recently aired 19 Kids And Counting: Jill’s Wedding episode, TNDV brought Elevation, its newest sixth and newest truck, to the production site along with 11 cameras.  According to Dugger, each camera was timecode-locked with a shared timecode feed delivered to truck sources on Elevation on Inspiration, as well as the loose ENG teams following the various characters seen in the episode.

TNDV also added microphone drops across the production space to ensure the highest audio quality.  The provision of wireless microphones for every character on the show augmented the audio experience for the viewer, producing an intimacy akin to being in the room for the weddings.  Additionally, TNDV supplied intercom feeds to every member of the production team, including the single-camera production teams working alongside TNDV staff to ensure everyone involved was on a communications channel.  TNDV also adapted two-way radios to the intercom system to enable a truly remote intercom architecture.

“By avoiding the traditional expectation of a multi-camera facilities provider, our clients depend on us to address the challenges they are facing with a level of professionalism that surpasses expectations,” said Dugger.  “For example, the live switch was used, but the ISO recording was far more valuable as you rarely know what to expect in a live environment.  Things happen very quickly and the team needs to be prepared, especially considering there is not much time for load-in, testing and rehearsal.  It is our job to capture genuine moments, and we cannot let technical problems get in the way.  This is why having a high-density, multi-point intercom matrix with remote capability is absolutely pertinent in reality TV shoots.”

TNDV used its Inspiration truck for The Real Housewives of Atlanta shoot, exemplifying how the company has an ideal mobile production solution for every project.  For this special episode, the TNDV team followed documented the opening of A Mother’s Love, a new play written by Kandi Burress, one of the show’s principal stars.  Using a similar multi-camera production model, Dugger and his team captured the nervous energy — and ultimate success — of Burress and the rest of the cast as the play came to life.

“There is no production environment we are afraid to face,” said Dugger.  “We excel at solving problems for the unusual and unexpected in production, and enjoy the challenge of employing the right technology for every environment.”

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Date posted: November 4, 2014

HD mobile production specialist to produce live real-time, interactive coverage of the CMA Awards Red Carpet and backstage activities

NASHVILLE, November 4, 2014 — At The 48th Annual CMA Awards—airing live on the ABC Television Network tomorrow, November 5, from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville—mobile production specialist TNDV will take the reins on the production of CMA Backstage Pass.  This live, multi-camera streaming media experience will give viewers the ability to use their tablets and mobile devices to get an exclusive look at what’s taking place behind the scenes before and during the live CMA Awards telecast.

CMA Backstage Pass host Kelly Sutton interviews musician Darius Rucker while TNDV producer Lacey Devlin takes notes.

With 13 HD cameras dedicated to CMA Backstage Pass, viewers will see many angles of activities off-stage, starting with the Red Carpet from 5pm to 7pm Central Time.  From 7pm to 11pm, viewers can switch between cameras backstage, in the main broadcast truck and in the press room where the stars appear after receiving their awards.

“The main goal of CMA Backstage Pass is to give fans an in-depth view into what their favorite celebrities are up to during the show. It also provides an unprecedented look into the behind the scenes workings of a major international awards show,” said Lacey C. Devlin, producer for TNDV and Backstage Pass.  “Watching the live broadcast is just one part of the experience fans are searching for. In the age of social media, fans want to know every detail—every inside joke, every off-camera event and other candid moments that make the stars more interesting and relatable.”

TNDV’s Aspiration HD mobile production truck parked outside of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, where the team will switch 13 cameras for the live CMA Backstage Pass stream.

This innovative, unique live stream, which will unfold in real-time parallel to the main ABC-TV special, will give viewers additional content about the celebrities—whose fashions they’re wearing, accomplishments and personal moments caught on camera—and let viewers share the experience with others on social media.  Viewers can experience CMA Awards Backstage Pass by downloading the WatchABC app, available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and more.

CMA (Country Music Association) chose TNDV to handle this special national event based on its growing relationship over the past six years.  “TNDV is by far the best live production company I have worked with,” said Ben Bennett, director of digital strategy at Country Music Association.  “TNDV always brings tons of ideas to the table and, most importantly, always executes flawlessly.  Our show has grown into a major national event due in large part to their tireless efforts and willingness to find a way to make things happen.

TNDV Engineers Jared Bowers, Adam Ellis, and Matt Barker prepare some of the 13 cameras to bring the CMA Backstage Pass show to the world live from Bridgestone Arena.

“The two- to three-hour window right before our TV special is the most critical time when viewers are making decisions about what to watch that night,” Bennett continued.  “The live stream creates a ton of chatter online during those critical hours.  The more fans we can get talking about the red carpet and thusly, the CMA Awards, the more chance we have at getting a bigger audience to tune in.  The same goes for during the show.  The live stream will help drive the social media conversation, and should drive more viewers to the ABC broadcast.”

TNDV will switch between 13 cameras from its 40-foot HD truck, Aspiration, which will park next to the main broadcast production truck producing the CMA Awards.  The CMA Backstage Pass camera inside that main mobile unit will let viewers watch the CMA Awards from the perspective of the main truck producing the live show.  Additionally, TNDV is also producing special, behind the scenes packages to give fans an exclusive look at how the stage was built, the stars’ dressing rooms and how the City of Nashville prepared for the CMA Awards, the biggest night in country music.

“This year’s Backstage Pass will be unlike anything ever done for the CMA Awards,” said Nic Dugger, owner and president of TNDV.  “While TNDV was integrally involved in last year’s second-screen experience, called CMA 360, this year we plan to ‘kick it up a notch’ by adding more cameras, more talent and more unfettered access to the Red Carpet and candid backstage moments.  Our multi-camera webcast, which takes place right alongside the main broadcast, includes a 20-member crew, an expanding side HD truck, and a complex single-mode fiber optic infrastructure dedicated solely to Backstage Pass.”

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Date posted: October 21, 2014

TNDV’s sixth truck integrates the production capabilities of the industry’s largest trucks into a more manageable, customer-friendly footprint

Mobile production specialist TNDV has added a sixth truck to its fleet, allowing the company and its growing staff to meet increasing demand for its live production services around the country.  Dubbed Elevation, the 40-foot truck delivers all the power of the industry’s largest trucks in a more manageable, energy-efficient footprint.

Elevation offers a similar video and audio infrastructure to TNDV’s other medium-sized, multi-format mobile production trucks, flexibly integrated to accommodate live and recorded shoots of any size.  The architecture adopts TNDV’s strategy of flexibly customizing the workflow to meet any client’s demands, rather than forcing broadcasters, venues and other customers to work within a strict, fixed system.

Elevation expands TNDV’s mobile production fleet of small-to-medium format trucks to six – and features all the technical capabilities of the industry’s largest trucks

Elevation also adds unique energy-efficient flourishes to differentiate it from other mobile production trucks, including an on-board 25kW generator to power air conditioners and the entire Elevation production infrastructure.  This makes Elevation an ideal choice for isolated remote shoots—a common task for the TNDV team—by eliminating the costs and headaches of finding power in more secluded locations.

“Elevation becomes self-powered with the flip of an onboard switch, eliminating the costs of expensive generator rentals,” said Nic Dugger, TNDV Owner and President.  “TNDV specializes in challenging shoots in unusual locations, from private outdoor concerts to high-intensity athletic events in temporary venues.  This helps us reduce costs for our clients, and is especially helpful for tight production budgets.”

The medium-sized footprint also aligns with TNDV’s strategy of keeping trucks manageable for clients working within limited spaces, including arenas and temporary outdoor venues.  This strategy accelerates load-in and load-out times while taking up less real estate on location.  At 40 feet long, Elevation is the same size as TNDV’s flagship Aspiration truck, a vehicle that TNDV clients appreciate for its features-to-size ratio.  Like Aspiration, Elevation includes a Ross Vision 3 switcher, an Imagine Communications Platinum integrated router, and Aja Ki-Pro recorders on the video side, along with multiple Hitachi SK-HD1000 cameras for multi-standard, multi-format field production at premium quality.  The audio infrastructure is also similar, with a redundant ProTools system, JoeCo MADI recorders and an 80-port RTS ADAM intercom system—but adds a Soundcraft VI-3000 audio console for expanded functionality.

“The VI-3000 moves us into the 96-input world from the 64-input world of our other video-centric trucks, and adds an integrated I/O infrastructure located physically on the desk itself,” said Dugger.  “This not only increases our channel count for larger audio productions, but simplifies our setup and configuration process for signal processing and source equipment across the audio infrastructure.”

Elevation has been used for several successful productions since taking to the highways in early September, including the 2014 Re/Max Long Drive Challenge golf tournament in Nevada; and the Celebrate Freedom Atlanta concert, hosted by local radio station 104.7 in Jim Miller Park.  Elevation has also visited the Governor’s Mansion in Kentucky to produce a free private concert.

With TNDV’s fleet at six mobile production trucks, Elevation joins the previously mentioned Aspiration truck alongside Inspiration, another 40-foot truck for medium-sized productions; Vibration, a 53-foot specialized audio production truck with remote recording facilities; and two additional trucks, Origination and Blackjack, designed for smaller-sized productions.

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Date posted: August 14, 2014

Specialist captures live video and audio for performances and events across 11 stages and five days for live streams, broadcast TV specials

Mobile production specialist TNDV has five trucks and six fly packs crossing the country on any given week, but for one week in June most of the fleet and crew remained in Nashville for the CMA Music Festival, accommodating a live broadcast TV shoot plus video and audio production across multiple downtown stages.

TNDV’s relationship with the Country Music Association is enduring, delivering full-service mobile production for several annual events including pre-show festivities for the CMA Awards each November.  The CMA Music Festival is the most immense, encompassing many outdoor stages with live performances from well-known and emerging national and local musical acts.  TNDV also provided onsite shooting, graphics and editing services across most stages, producing 30 original packages used in conjunction with an ABC TV special that aired on August 5.

Greer Stadium was one of 11 areas where TNDV provided mobile production infrastructure and services for CMA Music Festival Events. This image shows the PA system erected for a celebrity softball game.

In addition to the musical performances, TNDV’s Aspiration truck was reserved for a 10-camera live TV shoot, capturing performers and personalities for the CMT Music Awards Red Carpet Special.  The mobile production infrastructure required 96 channels of professional audio and a massive RTS intercom matrix to ensure smooth communication across the large production crew.

Collectively, the CMA Music Festival exemplified TNDV’s ability to accommodate production requirements for events of varying scales simultaneously, demonstrating the company’s diverse skillset and technical portfolio across the five-day event.  In addition to general camera shoots and audio recording, the diverse needs of the CMA Music Festival required a great deal of digital content management, from on-the-fly editing to live web streaming.

“Our relationship with the CMA is based on production flexibility, requiring an innate ability to adjust on short notice while keeping pace with their year-on-year growth,” said Nic Dugger, owner and president, TNDV.  “The relationship has evolved over a six-year period, when we were first approached for a simple rental that we quickly converted into a custom flypack.  This year, it meant providing a diverse array of scaled mobile production solutions, including trucks and flypacks, to shoot, mix, edit and stream performances throughout the week.  That made for a number of unique and interesting situations that allowed us to engineer custom workflows to accommodate production needs based on event scale and venue size.”

Some of the more unique events included the CMA Close Up stage, featuring private performances and interviews from Lady Antebellum, Leann Rimes and other well-known artists.  TNDV set up a streaming server to capture the main events, engineering a live, automated switching architecture with three HD robotic cameras and integrated encoding technologies from BlackMagic Design to seamlessly hand off the live streams.

Additionally, TNDV converted a downtown honkytonk club into a performance venue that also served as a shoot for the premiere episode of Big Smo, a new A&E network reality TV show that follows the life of a Tennessee rap artist.  The end-to-end solution includes several large HD display screens for live image magnification of the performances.

On a grander scale, TNDV supplied a five-camera HD flypack for the CMA Chevy Riverfront Stage, with massive LED video boards and a full online HD edit suite.  Performances from this stage, which included Billy Ray Cyrus, Kellie Pickler and Colt Ford, were also played back across other venues throughout the week using Aja KiPro servers.

TNDV also provided complete support for the press room at LP Field, the Tennessee Titans NFL stadium that served as the main CMA Music Festival venue.  The production infrastructure here included HD cameras for live interview feeds, along with a complete signal routing and processing infrastructure to support HD-SDI, SD-SDI and composite video outputs, along with XLR audio for mic and line level connections.  Custom TNDV made press mults featuring three video options, two audio options, and integrated LCD monitors were made available to the press.

Additional mobile production solutions for other CMA Festival location shoots included:

  • The company’s Inspiration mobile production truck, a large LED board and a custom PA sound system for the City of Hope celebrity softball game at Greer Stadium.
  • Multiple HD cameras and live switching at the CMA Global Stage, positioned on the corner of 1st Avenue and Broadway in downtown Nashville.
  • Custom HD flypacks to shoot in-house video and ISO-record Grand Ole Opry performances, to be used for a Labor Day TV special.

Custom mobile production solutions were also developed across additional venues, including the Bud Light Stage and Samsung Galaxy Stage among other locations.

Date posted: July 14, 2014

Mobile production specialist captures, magnifies and streams Vanderbilt and University of Virginia commencements in HD

Mobile production is most often associated with the world of sports and large entertainment events, but a growing contingent of non-broadcast organizations are looking to outside production teams to increase quality and expand audience reach.

TNDV recently brought its mobile production expertise to the campuses of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, achieving these goals and more for their spring graduation ceremonies.  TNDV transitioned both commencement productions to HD for the first time, vastly improving image magnification quality for the large attending crowds.  The company also streamed the live ceremonies worldwide to ensure families, friends and alumni could tune in from anywhere.

According to Nic Dugger, owner and president of TNDV, an increasing number of his clients across education, government and corporate verticals are recognizing the quick return on investment that comes with upgrading the production quality and taking the event to an external audience.

“Universities like Vanderbilt and University of Virginia realize that commencement is the most crucial day to a student’s life,” said Dugger.  “Graduation day sets the mood and tone to the student’s relationship with that university forever, and potentially influences future donations and ongoing involvement.  They want every student’s family to be able to experience the event with them, whether onsite or online, with the visual and audio quality required for total immersion.  It takes a professional mobile production crew and technology infrastructure to make that happen, especially when you are serving two very different audiences.”

TNDV built a true mobile production facility for each event, staffed with producers, directors, and a complement of switcher, graphics and playback operators.  The staff positioned multiple Hitachi HD5000 cameras around the venues, feeding back to its Inspiration truck.  On board, the signals were sweetened with graphics and audio, and routed to large LED screens on either side of the stage.  Throughout the productions, TNDV staff monitored multiviewer feeds both on board and outside the truck, the latter of which lent a professional production atmosphere for attendees.

The team also positioned an array of audience microphones throughout the crowd to capture the energy of the event for online audiences.  This replicated the in-person experience for those who couldn’t make the ceremonies.  Additionally, all camera feeds from the ceremonies, as well as special events surrounding the commencements, were recorded to Aja KiPro banks for future university use.

For Dugger, the tricky nature of producing graduation ceremonies is that unlike a live performance, the emphasis is not on a single artist or small group of performers.  Everyone involved is on equal footing, from guest speakers to the entire student body.

“The challenge across both the image magnification and live stream is to make sure that every student gets the recognition they deserve,” he said.  “Every student’s name needs to be seen and heard clearly.  Taking the leap to HD production makes that experience far more immersive, and ultimately more memorable.  And these productions were truly what you would see for a full-blown live broadcast.”

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Date posted: June 5, 2014

Mobile production specialist helps customers minimize costs with flypacks, flexible truck systems as format battles shake out

TNDV became one of the first mobile production companies with an SD/HD/3D truck when Aspiration first appeared in 2011.  However, owner Nic Dugger quickly recognized that the 3D element would play a nominal role in his productions at best.  And as the broadcast and production industry awaits the true arrival of the next-generation format, he is maximizing opportunities for clients through creative, customized solutions that leverage cutting-edge technologies within temporary, cost-effective packages.

“The 4K message was inescapable at NAB, and for good reason as the technology itself has arrived,” said Dugger.  “However, with 3D we learned that nothing is assured.  In reality, we are still in a lull between HD and what’s next.  We think it is 4K, but from deeper conversations with vendors it’s clear that the research and development dollars are moving onto 8K.  And there remains the possibility that 1080p production could pick up the slack in the meantime.”

TNDV rocks out a flexible mobile production system on the set of ABC’s “Nashville”

Based on this uncertainty, TNDV is putting more emphasis on custom-built flypacks while also remaining fluid infrastructure-wise across their five mobile production trucks.  While the company’s philosophy has never been to force design specs on clients through fixed solutions, the need for flexibility in mobile production is at an all-time high.  The ability to customize flypacks and trucks means lower costs and more options for clients, while keeping his own company’s investment costs manageable until a clear next-generation format emerges.

This approach is most noticeable to clients through TNDV’s increasing integration of 4K cameras into productions, whether for custom flypacks or his mobile trucks.  Recent examples include a live shoot for the ABC Television program “Nashville,” which incorporated Red Epic 4K digital cinema cameras for concert performances that were a central part of an April episode’s storyline.  TNDV also recently incorporated Canon C300 digital cinema cameras into several live event productions, including Madonna and Amnesty International concerts at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Multiviewers give production crews using film-style cameras the creature comforts they are used to for monitoring broadcast feeds on the set

Dugger is keeping costs low for everyone involved and remaining nimble by renting these and other 4K cameras as required, and integrating them within rock-solid, proven HD production architectures to maintain reliability, redundancy and flexibility.  He cites TNDV’s recent shoot for Taylor Swift’s “Red” music video, where the specification required several different 4K cameras married with a traditional broadcast production infrastructure.

“We’re giving our clients that want the advanced capabilities of 4K acquisition the creature comforts they deserve across the rest of the workflow,” said Dugger.  “By bringing in multiviewers, the director of photography realizes how powerful their productions are when they can monitor all 10 of their cameras.  We’re providing a high end matrix intercom system akin to what would be found in a top-of-the-line HD production truck structure.  And we’re providing a rack of Aja KiPros for backup recording, timecode-locked with audio, in the event of issues with the 4K media.”

The ability to remain flexible through trucks and flypacks also allows TNDV to scale for each show, designing each system around camera counts, switching inputs and other varying technical specifications.

“We’re quickly moving away from the days of relying on a fixed list of components and specifications, especially as we await the true arrival of the next big thing,” said Dugger.  “I would rather my clients express their needs and allow TNDV to make it happen, presenting custom working solutions tailored for each show.  This is really about a la carte TV production.”

Date posted: May 19, 2014

Specialist tackles live broadcast, live image magnification and “live to tape” projects simultaneously in Las Vegas

TNDV has five mobile production trucks and several flypacks crossing the country every week, with production teams working across multiple cities and locations on any given day.  Occasionally, the stars align and several TNDV productions converge on the same city on the same date.  This was the case in April, when the company sent its two largest trucks and a flypack to Las Vegas for three shoots, each with very diverse production requirements across live TV, post and professional AV environments.

The shoots were all tied to the Academy of Country Music, which held its annual ACM Awards and second-ever ACM Party for a Cause Festival in two separate city locations.  TNDV was tapped for the live ACM Red Carpet show at the MGM Grand in advance of the ACM Awards.  The all-HD, multi-camera production aired live on the Great American Country Network, with TNDV handling all live acquisition, graphics, switching and instant replay of country’s biggest stars as they descended on the venue.

TNDV’s Aspiration and Vibration mobile production trucks were fully staffed for the various ACM events that took place throughout the early April weekend, including live broadcast and image magnification productions

Six blocks away at The LINQ, a new open-air outdoor entertainment venue, the Party for a Cause kicked off a weekend-long concert—and the venue’s maiden event—with headliners Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban.  TNDV handled image magnification for the entire festival using one of their new 2ME, 36-input a mobile production flypacks, producing stunning HD projections of the live performances across several high-quality video boards at stage left and stage right.

TNDV was responsible for the camera shoots and image magnification at Party For A Cause, engaging the large crowd with HD quality video feeds of the live performances on large screens inside the venue

On Day 2, TNDV relocated its Aspiration expanding side truck—which handled the ACM Red Carpet production—to The LINQ for a 10-camera shoot under the direction of Nashville-based production company Taillight TV.  That shoot turned into the “Outnumber Hunger Concert,” a special one-hour event that aired April 18 on more than 30 Gannett Co. TV stations and select Gannett web portals.

TNDV’s dedicated audio truck, Vibration, joined Aspiration for this special shoot, creating a mobile production infrastructure to accommodate all professional video and audio production requirements for the HD broadcast special.  TNDV configured a central routing infrastructure to connect the two trucks, sharing video, audio and intercom feeds across front of house, camera operators and other production personnel.

For TNDV owner and president Nic Dugger, the “triple threat” scenario was a master class on how flexible broadcast equipment has become across multiple live production needs.  For example, Dugger used Chroma de Monde chip charts to balance his cameras for each event, noting the requirement for consistent lighting across the varying daytime and nighttime shoots.

“Today’s broadcast tools aren’t pigeonholed into a single application,” said Dugger.  “Whether it’s our Hitachi cameras, Imagine Communications router, Ross production switcher or RTS intercom system, these tools exist in the mobile production space to achieve the final output for any deliverable, whether live to in-venue screens, live to television or post-produced for later broadcast.  There are differences in each approach, but the attention of detail has to be consistent whether the end purpose is to entertain the live audience or the viewers at home.”

And some of the differences were very clear.  For in-house image magnification, Dugger and his team switched between, and simultaneously projected, up to five live angles to entertain concert attendees—a production element that was unnecessary for the associated TV shoot.

On the audio side, bringing Vibration to Party for a Cause meant that TNDV could produce a broadcast-quality audio mix for the TV special, encompassing more than 100 inputs via the truck’s Studer Vista 9 console and ProTools rig.  TNDV also added more than 20 audience microphones to ensure viewers at home would experience the feeling of being in the crowd.

“Video without audio is just surveillance, so we needed to make sure that every one of the 100-plus inputs were recorded cleanly and with the correct gain structure,” said Dugger.  “That way, upon returning to the studio for audio post our client could achieve the sound levels and quality they desired for the broadcast.  For the ACM Red Carpet Show, a multichannel intercom and IFB infrastructure audio ensured that everyone involved could clearly communicate as live interviews happened.  The audio requirements were more diverse than video across the three events, though the common theme of flexibility and attention to detail for the client remained.”

Date posted: March 27, 2014

Mobile production specialist’s use of film-style cameras for musical performances enhances dramatic feel of charitable event

TNDV has had a busy mobile production schedule through the first quarter of 2014, with Amnesty International’s Bring Human Rights Home Concert last month standing out as its most unique project.  The event, which took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, featured a roster of interesting musical acts aligned with the organization’s mission of fighting injustice and promoting human rights.

TNDV brought its 40-foot expanding side truck, Aspiration, to capture live performances for in-venue image magnification; and to serve as the central command center for content acquisition.  The uniquely dramatic elements of the event – which included a rousing speech and performance of two recently-imprisoned members of the Russian musical act Pussy Riot — influenced TNDV to make some changes to its mobile production workflow.  This included the use of Canon EOS C300 cinema cameras, which introduced new production possibilities while challenging the crew.

TNDV’s use of film cameras helped the team properly capture the drama of the event from all angles

“It was going back to Truck 101,” said Nic Dugger, president and owner, TNDV.  “We basically reverse-engineered the truck to work with a camera designed for the film industry, making adjustments across the infrastructure to ensure that the cameras worked with every component.  We also lost of a lot of the creature comforts we are used to with the cameras themselves.  However, we gained a look and feel that is not easily achievable with broadcast cameras, thanks to a shallow depth of field and some incredibly high resolution images.”

Dugger and his team engineered nine HD video outputs to support the cameras, with feeds frame synched and time-code locked content for delivery across Aspiration’s switching, routing and multiviewing infrastructure.  In addition to magnifying performances from The Flaming Lips, Tegan and Sara, and other performers on large venue screens, live feeds were recorded to in-camera memory cards and Aja KiPro recorders on the truck for future use by the organization.  The KiPros recorded the feeds using a progressive segmented frame rate, allowing TNDV to capture the content in the 24p-style preferred by the film director.

But there were a number of more unusual compensations for which the TNDV team needed to engineer solutions.

“The most important element we offered this show was a way to monitor cameras and fully understand what was happening,” said Dugger.  “Being cinema cameras, the C300s don’t have tally lights, which means there is no obvious way to know what camera is on the air.  They also don’t have return video, which means we can’t press a button and watch the line cut in the viewfinder.  It made for even higher reliance on our Imagine Communications multiviewer system, while actively listening to the director to understand his next move.”

TNDV achieved that last point by taking advantage of the Barclays Center’s extensive fiber infrastructure.  Dugger used Aja Fido bricks to convert HD-SDI signals to fiber and transport signals from every corner of the venue to the loading dock, where Aspiration was parked.  That same infrastructure carried multiple RTS intercom feeds, enabling digital point-to-point communications with anyone connected to the matrix.

“That is where the world of film and TV really came together for this project,” said Dugger.  “The film director and his camera crew were able to use a mix of matrix-station intercom connections and belt packs on a party line to communicate across the venue — something they typically don’t get to do.  This enabled very effective communications across all cameras and departments.”

Dugger added that using the C300 cameras provided a taste of what’s to come with 4K, as he and other truck companies start to consider the most effective upgrade strategies to meet those next-generation production requirements.

“We’ll have to retrain our brains to become more familiar with the film approach to production, where lens millimeters and F-Stops have a major effect on high-resolution image characteristics,” he said.  “This project helped us understand how to achieve better light-balance in the absence of traditional shading, for example.  The transition to 4K is going to force us to pay more attention to focus, resolution and other aspects related to the intensive imaging requirements.”

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