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.
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