Production of the Canadian Olympics Hall of Fame Gala
COW Library : AJA Video Systems : Mathieu Marano : Production of the Canadian Olympics Hall of Fame Gala
Being a Final Cut User group administrator and in a small video community like Montreal's always bring surprising opportunities. On our trip to the NAB Show this year, I heard Dominic Bourget, a good friend of mine -- who also happens to be the video account manager for Inso Media -- talk about a big show being recorded completely on KiPro, the new hard drive video recorder manufactured by AJA. I got back to him and offered to give a hand. I had heard great things about the device and thought it would be a good opportunity to work with it and push it hard...and we pushed it.
A month later, the biggest Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame event ever organized was about to begin. Vancouver had hosted the games, Canada had won a record number of medals and Canadians were in love with their athletes. Musical performances by top Canadian artists like Sarah Mclachlan, Ginette Renaud, Simple Plan and the Canadian Tenors were also part of the program.
The Hall of Fame Induction Gala was sold to both private channels that owned the rights to broadcast the Olympics in Canada: the English-speaking CTV channel and the new French-speaking V Tele channel.
Since both networks had very tight schedules, they could not afford to air the show without knowing how long it would last, given that some nominees, when offered an open mike, take more time than they are allowed. The show had to be cut down to a two-hour long master including commercial breaks, subtitles and packaging in both official languages. The show had to be on air 24 hours only after the event took place.
The gala was to take place at the Montreal Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadians. The day before, two mobile video and audio units were settled to capture sound and images during the event. Mobile recording and equipment supplier Karisma was in charge of audio recording and mixing. As for video, Dome had provided its amazingly well equipped Tribute HD video mobile, which includes a CCU desk for two, a deck room seating four and a huge control room able to welcome a ten people production team. Director Jean Lamoureux, known for his work on Celine Dion's Las Vegas and "Taking Chances" tour DVDs, was chosen to call the shots.
Early in the production process, it was decided to record all 10 camera feeds and programs using 12 KiPros. There were two reasons for this. Renting 14 KiPros (including 2 for backup) for two days is way cheaper than renting 12 HDCAM SR decks. Also, recording on swappable hard drives enables the production assistant to leave for post-production with the drives to transfer the ProRes files as soon as the show is finished, which saves a lot of time. Using the EVS requires to transfer all files (36 hours of ProRes) to a hard drive and then to transfer them a second time to the post-production SAN. Recording to tape was not even considered.
The rehearsal began at 9 a.m. on the day of the show. Dominic Bourget from Inso Media had provided most of the KiPro and was supervising the recording. Even though the KiPros were configured the day before, we went through all units once more before launching a 3-hour long record test. Every unit had house sync, timecode and HD-SDI from the patch. All 12 KiPros were plugged in a SMC GigE switch along with two laptops. The KiPro Web interface made it easy to monitor 6 devices per laptop via Firefox.The one thing that was missing at that time was an all-for-one-record function to start the recording of all the KiPros at the same time.
For two hours, everything ran smoothly until a window popped up on one of the laptops. One of the KiPros had stopped recording. It did not take long for Dominic to discover that it was burning hot. Since the KiPros were stacked 3 by 3 on a shelf, the ones at the bottom did not have enough air to cool down the drive. Its drive was removed quickly: no response. Dead!
KiPro before heating.
Turning the KiPros on their sides to cool. All Photos are credited to Dominic Bourget.
At that point, two spare KiPros and 6 drives were not enough to reassure the director. We quickly lowered the trailer AC by a couple of degrees, plugged in some fans and turned the KiPros on their side, leaving an inch in-between them. We tried another drive in the KiPro; it worked well! Then we prepared an extra one to be safe. Right on time to launch another 3-hour test that went also well.
Thirty minutes before the show, everybody was back and drives were reformatted and set up. We were confident that we could record the 3 hours of ProRes 422 we needed, even though the earlier events kept us on guard all the way through the show. Our eyes never stopped scanning the 12 KiPros LCD screens for potential problems. The EVS operator who was operating at our desk was pretty impressed with the setup.
Once the show was over, we transferred end credits and alphas from the EVS to the KiPros and Dominic headed with the 12 KiPro drives to the director's house, where he had built a temporary SAN for this production. I wrapped up the 12 devices in no time and loaded them in my Patriot. (Ever tried loading 12 SRW-5500 in a Jeep?) An hour later, the Dome mobile was folded and ready to go fot the next gig.
At the director's house, three workstations running Final Cut Studio 2009 on MacPros were installed in different rooms. They were equipped with Kona 3 and LHi cards that enabled them to have their output displayed on a reference monitor or a plasma screen. They were all on a Fiber and GigE network managed by two other MacPros acting as metadata controllers running metaSAN. Two 16TB G-Speed XL FC plugged in an ATTO 8Gbs switch were mounted as a single drive on the desktops, and were ready to feed the 12 stream multiclips to the workstations for a night of heavy editing.
The Edit Suite.
At one of the workstations.
The footage was all transfered to the SAN within an hour using all the workstations and two laptops, each with 2 KiPro drives plugged in Firewire 800. A less than 60-minute ingest time for 36 hours of footage. This was the main bottleneck of the project and it was amazingly well handled by the "home SAN" set up by the Inso Media tech team the day before. The multiclips were quickly created and verified for all the editors to start working.
The first concern was to recover and recut some parts of the musical performances that had sound problems during the show. For the Canadian Tenors' second performance, a choir of 50 kids sang on stage but the live mixer forgot to rise the fader, so nobody in the video control room could hear them. Therefore, the director never called any images of the choir to the program.
Presentation and portraits of the nominees had been pre-produced in French and English so the editors would be able to replace them quickly depending on the version they had be working on. When the time came to insert them in the show, an editor noticed that most of them had different lengths. So they had to be recut and remixed.
The director, assistant-director and production director were all working with a editor on a different part of the show. Another stand-alone workstation was installed for subtitling French speeches for the CTV version. This editor was working directly on the KiPro drive with the program backup with a translator. Once done, the projects were easily shared and assembled by the online editor.
Both versions of the show (breaks and packaging included) had to have the same length and timing because, meanwhile, the sound studio was working on the mix based on the original uncut recording. They would not have had time to mix two completely different versions.
At noon, the day after the gala, two HDCAM SR masters were sent to Karisma for audio striping and then delivered to CTV for an 8 p.m. broadcast.
This would have been impossible without the extreme compatibility between Final Cut and the KiPro, the quick ingest time provided by the segmented recording, the multi-station transfers and the media sharing capabilities of metaSAN. Thousands of Canadians were then able to enjoy and appreciated the well shortened and respectfully condenced induction gala of their favourite athletes in both official Canadian languages - only 24 hours after the event took place.
Dome Tribute HD
Canadian Olympics Hall of Fame
Bureau de Post