Passion 2013 Conference, Part 2

Passion 2013, a religious gathering reaching out to students and young adults brought 60,000 people to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and TNDV Television was also there to provide 23 cameras, live web cove 4/18/2013 6:39 AM Eastern

Passion 2013 Conference, Part 2

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

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Passion 2013, a religious gathering reaching out to students and young adults brought 60,000 people to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and TNDV Television was also there to provide 23 cameras, live web coverage, and big screen feeds. TNDV Technical Manager Nic Dugger is here to continue his story on how it all got done, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

Nic it’s great to have you back for part two on the SVC Podcast from TNDV Television in Nashville and we’re talking about the Passion 2013 Conference held recently in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. You had two of your biggest remote trucks there doing web coverage, feeding live LED and ribbon displays, and recording it all. You had to have communications for a huge crew. How was all of the comm system set up?

Yeah, you know it’s really tricky and something we’ve used and established over the years is that more ports is better. In the early days when our trucks were small and we did not have as complicated of an intercom system, we would take a single RTS port, identify it as a camera channel, and through a party line power supply distribute that same camera channel to every camera. We found out really quick that gets noisy and that gets crowded, so what we’ve done on all of our trucks is make sure we have a big enough intercom frame to supply as many ports as are appropriate for the show. So every camera gets a dedicated RTS port, every key panel gets a dedicated RTS port, every IFB channel gets its own half of an RTS port, and every party line channel that has a power supply gets its own port. So for Passion we were in the range of between 115 and 120 ports on our ADAM frame. These not only took care of all the KP user panels inside the trucks, but it also fit all 23 cameras that are on dedicated port and we extended a number of ports, almost 1,000ft., over cooper telco cable with RJ-12 connector fan outs to the KP user stations at front of house for our producers, our graphics engineers, and even our high-res switcher operators. So everybody had a KP, and on each of those KP’s we were able to program what party line channels they have access to, what point-to-point access they have, and can make changes on the fly, which is important. If somebody needs a channel updated or a channel added or deleted, we’re able to do that quickly and efficiently. And if there is a problem, if a camera can’t hear or a side tone is low, we only have that one port to address and try to determine what the problem is without taking large party line channels offline. So the RTS ADAM frame really made the Passion 2013 intercom system possible. [Timestamp: 3:06]

And there had to be a lot of wireless stuff that you had to deal with both on program sound and communications as well.

You know there was. We were not primarily responsible for stage audio, but the gentleman at Rat Sound did a fabulous job. The rumor was they had over 100 channels of RF microphones. We were, however, responsible for wireless intercom and on an average day we had around eight wireless RF beltpacks for the various stage managers to move freely throughout the venue. I think at a maximum we had a total of 12 because we didn’t have wireless cameras. We had three different wireless cameras—full-sized, configurable cameras—that were on steady cams and handheld mounted and they also used one of our wireless intercom beltpacks for their truck communication. [Timestamp: 3:53]

On the sound, did they send you a mix or did you have mic splits or how did that work?

For audio, they had a broadcast mix room where they were doing an entirely separate mix just for the webcast that we took as our primary tune mix out to the truck and that’s what the audience at home was able to hear and on the web was able to hear, and that’s what went to our record machines. Now we did also multitrack record every input, so after the event they then went into audio post and to heavy audio sweetening into the remix. But the tune mix we received in the truck that we put to all of our 26 record machines was more than enough for our team to hear and be able to know what was going on and enjoy the music and be able to direct to that music. It sounded fabulous. [Timestamp: 4:36]

There was a lot of music involved in this thing, a lot of different bands and all of their monitoring setups.

There was, and I think at the forefront of that, I think really the music for Passion has really come under the leadership of performing artist Chris Tomlin. And while there’s a number of special guests, including LeCrae and David Crowder and some of these folks, Chris Tomlin has really moved almost to the bandleader role and I think all the attendees really identify with him and his music. He really does a great job of setting the mood and the tone for the event, not only with the exciting and uplifting music, but also the appropriate music when it’s a quieter event. But the Passion team really does a great job of selecting music, making sure it’s appropriate for the mood and feel, and then our video team is responsible for making sure the imagery matches with that music and they do a great job as well. [Timestamp: 5:24]

Passion 2013 Conference, Part 2

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

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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