DoP in TV Series: Talent in the umpteenth TV Golden Age
Jessica Lee Gagné
Elements for live production
Editor in chief Javier de Martín
Creative Direction Mercedes González
Key account manager Susana Sampedro
Administration Laura de Diego
Managing Editor Sergio Julián email@example.com
TM Broadcast International #83 July 2020
TM Broadcast International is a magazine published by Daró Media Group SL Centro Empresarial Tartessos Calle Pollensa 2, oficina 14 28290 Las Rozas (Madrid), Spain Phone +34 91 640 46 43 Published in Spain ISSN: 2659-5966
EDITORIAL Our understanding of television series has changed dramatically in recent decades. Feature filmmakers found on the small screen a means to think outside the box, redefine their narratives and get the best of their creative minds. What was once a context that limited their possibilities has become a field test to expand their influence. This dramatically changes the concept of TV as we understood it. Whether it is David Lynch with its outstanding Season 3 of Twin Peaks or David Fincher with “House of Cards” or “Mindhunter”, both have expanded the relevance of this productions. Television is now a home for creative talent; thousands of Directors and DoPs understand TV as the place to be. Investment in television dramas has multiplied, as have the benefits for its producers thanks to a worldwide distribution. The arrival of OTT and VOD, and the consequent democratization of access to culture brought by the Internet, was a crucial point for the consolidation of this model. They are, at this time, the true game-changers of AV production and home-video consumption. Broadcasting magazines cannot lose sight of these environments. Of course, information and sport entertainment continue to deliver impressive performances as new production
environments and solutions make a regular, real-time coverage turn into a breath-taking production. But when it comes to fictional entertainment, although many stations keep betting on linear consumption, the freedom provided to customers along with the increasingly high video quality of these platforms, make these productions and the technology they use extremely relevant. In this issue of TM Broadcast, we cover the aforementioned worlds, delving into the technology needed to make both content possible. Regarding the daily production of broadcast content, we have an amazing indepth report called “Elements for live production”, which provides an overview of each element that is part of the workflow of any station or production services company. Regarding TV series, we have approached three incredible DoP who are creating some of the most engaging content on VOD platforms so that they can tell us how they use technology to bring their creativity to the screen. And much more! We’re living through strange times, but we’re still committed to bringing you the best reports on the broadcast world. Thank you for trusting TM Broadcast International once again!
NEWS - PRODUCTS
Newtek unveils TriCaster 2 Elite NewTek, developer of IP-based video technology and part of the Vizrt Group, has announced TriCaster® 2 Elite, what the company has defined as “the most powerful and complete live video production system on the planet”. TriCaster 2 Elite provides video producers, visual storytellers and system integrators with ‘better than broadcast’ functionality. In addition to video production capabilities, TriCaster 2 Elite enables studios, broadcasters, large scale campuses and enterprise facilities to harness 6
“nearly every major video calling application” in use today. To further amplify the flexibility and scalability, both futureproofed video over IP and more traditional SDI are supported by the platform. “Serving the needs well of those who make visual storytelling a key part of their business is made possible by combining IP networking, softwaredefined solutions and a focus on the customer experience. TriCaster 2 Elite currently has no equal in terms of capability and value and I believe that it is the best
product we have ever made,” said Dr. Andrew Cross, president of R&D for the Vizrt Group. “More than ever, businesses, governments, schools, houses of worship and other organizations tell us they are adopting broadcast techniques to communicate their message to their world more effectively as they seek to stay relevant in a rapidly changing environment.” TriCaster 2 Elite supports a huge variety of web conferencing tools including Skype™, MS Teams™, Zoom Meetings™ or
NEWS - PRODUCTS
automation tools deliver video production and IP workflow solutions that are highly interoperable with existing equipment, such as control room systems, video walls, multiviewers, media platforms and the like.
GoToMeeting™, as well as all IP video sources including NDI®, SRT, RTMP, RTP, HTTP, SRC, and smartphones. These, along with “almost unlimited” traditional SDI sources, can be accessed and used simultaneously. At the heart of TriCaster 2 Elite is a high speed 60×45 video crosspoint that includes 32 external inputs that automatically determine video format and resolutions up to 4Kp60. Each input includes proc amp tools, independent keying and cropping for crisper video, as well as triggers
for automation. No tradeoffs are required with 8 configurable mix outputs in HD or 2 in 4Kp60, direct NDI outs of media players, multiple streaming encoders, continuous NDI conversion of all 8 SDI inputs, and 8 independently selectable recorders for immediate replay. The platform allows content creators to produce simultaneous mixes, deliver multiple 4K streams to different places at once, feed video walls and accommodate separate branding and language packages, record program and line cuts, and much more. When it comes to integration, the TriCaster control API and
Furthermore, TriCaster 2 Elite affords 8 mix/effects (M/Es) with 4 layers each, enhanced by integration with Adobe® Creative Cloud® tools. Visual storytelling automation tools with simplified teleprompter-based scripting with Microsoft Word® document files are included. Virtual and augmented reality scenes can be rendered in real time from Adobe® Photoshop® files while non-standard framerate and aspect ratios such as 9:16 make it easy to deliver engaging content to modern media screens. Other features include frame sync on every input, animated GIF support in buffers, social media publishing, audio mixing and routing, including support for DANTE™ and AES-67, among others. 7
NEWS - PRODUCTS
EcoDigital releases ECOPro Managed Services EcoDigital has launched ECOPro Managed Services, an offering that delivers digital ecosystem management, storage infrastructure optimization, and workflow improvement for users of the company’s DIVA Software Suite for digital asset management. Through ECOPro Managed Services, a team of EcoDigital engineers conducts proactive monitoring, reporting, automation, and technology maintenance. As stated by EcoDigital, the combination of 24/7 monitoring with proactive ticket generation and patch installation minimizes risk of operational downtime, “giving users confidence that the right people always have access to the right assets at the right time”. “Knowing how to build workflows efficiently, properly maintain infrastructure, and refine digital asset management 8
ECOPro Managed Services for Secure, Predictive, and Proactive Digital Asset Management
strategy can be a challenge,” said Geoff Tognetti, chief technology officer at EcoDigital. “ECOPro Managed Services are designed to protects users’ digital assets, mitigate risks, reduce operational costs, and increase efficiencies, ultimately simplifying and streamlining digital content management so that users can spend
more time on the activities that build their business.” “As they expand their operations, most businesses can’t afford to get bogged down by the details of adding, managing, and training internal IT infrastructure,” added David Gonce, chief revenue officer at EcoDigital.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
LYNX Technik AG unveils new yellobrik module The LYNX Technik yellobrik (model: OBD 1410) “reduces the cost” of transmitting and receiving uncompressed 12G SDI video signals in real-time and over fiber between equipment in a broadcast / AV facility or even over long distances
– up to 10 km (6.2 miles). The OBD 1410 also “saves space” by reducing the number of fiber optical transceivers required for signal transmission. The yellobrik OBD 1410 re-clocks any SDI signal up to 12G and the two fiber input channels are
independent of each other, therefore allowing different standards, rates and formats to be carried on each channel – all over a single fiber link. All SDI formats are automatically detected during transmitting and receiving.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
BBC and Hulu’s adaptation of “Normal People” was finished in DaVinci Resolve Studio
Blackmagic Design has announced that the popular television adaptation of Sally Rooney’s New York Times novel, Normal People, was graded and finished in DaVinci Resolve Studio. Produced by the Oscar and BAFTA award winning production company, Element Pictures, the series has generated almost 48 million requests on BBC iPlayer so far. “Normal People” was directed by Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie
Macdonald, with cinematography by Suzie Lavelle BSC and Kate McCullough. Gary Curran, colorist and company director at Outer Limits, who handled all post production, relied on an ACES workflow in DaVinci Resolve Studio for the grade, online and final deliverables. Curran says, “The camera work on this series is fantastic. Suzie decided to use K35 lenses that introduce flare and fogging. They had a real softness to their highlights
and contrast. Overall, my aim was to not take anything away from that,” he continues. “Rather just enhancing Suzie and Kate’s work further. It was about finding the right balance between keeping it natural in the DI and not too stylized while also retaining a slight richness to the images.” Throughout the series, each location and point in time has its own world. Curran adds: “When the characters are in school, we
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
reflected the greys and blues of the uniform. Then the story evolves to Trinity, where the colors get richer – a warmer hue of reds, oranges and browns. The following sequences in Italy were bright and sharp, which made a really stark contrast to when Marianne’s character is in a dark place in Sweden.” Curran explains that many of the interior shots in Sweden were actually filmed in Dublin, so there was some shot matching to the exterior scenes, which were graded with low, bleak light, reflecting Marianne’s state of mind. He adds: “With the camerawork, which is sometimes placed very close up, you are always present with the main characters. You feel almost like you’re sat next to them, and you really get to see their mental turmoil. Body language, gestures, looks were all key parts of the storytelling, and so it was important to ensure viewers could always see this. Sometimes we found the light would be falling away in some of those interiors into darkness and shadow, and there were times where we let that happen stylistically. However, in others we wanted to bring out their faces, and so I used Resolve’s channel mixer to narrow the range of skin tone. If there was too much green or blue, we could control those levels while still ensuring skin tones were natural and soft.”
The Voice Lebanon is augmented by Voyager from Ross Video ‘The Voice’ has been a successful show format that began life in The Netherlands in 2010 and has since been syndicated all around the world. For the most recent series of The Voice Lebanon, local company Visuwalls were approached at the very beginning of the project to provide set design, props, LED walls and motion graphics. It was at this point that Visuwalls suggested the use of Augmented Reality in order to add an extra creative dimension to the show. Visuwall’s team of 3D artists took several of the assets that had been created for the motion graphics software and converted them for Voyager, Ross Video’s innovative graphics rendering solution that is based on the Unreal engine by Epic Games. Launched in 2019, Voyager enables content creators working with Augmented Reality and/or Virtual Studio workflows to create stunning, hyperrealistic graphics that add new levels of creativity to programs and delight audiences. Amongst other assets, the team at Visuwalls worked with the famous Voice hand logo so the production team could make this appear on the physical set and then animate it as the camera (Spidercam or jib) flew past.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
SES will deliver video services for BBC Studios BBC Studios (BBCS) and its subsidiary UKTV have selected SES to manage the playout and distribution of over 50 linear channels and their associated video on demand (VOD) services, SES announced today. SES will provide playout, content processing, distribution, and VOD services, delivering BBCS and UKTV content to a network of affiliates globally and in the UK. These services will be based on SES’s European global delivery services with technical playout infrastructure provided from SES’s new Stockley Park facility in London and with SES’s Munich playout facility overseeing operational management. BBCS is the commercial production and distribution arm of the BBC, crafting over 2,500 hours of content every year. BBCS is focussed on promoting the creative talent of the BBC and the 12
UK internationally and operates a global content distribution and branded services business. UKTV is a wholly owned subsidiary of BBCS. It has been at the forefront of UK branded television for over 25 years and its channels span comedy, entertainment, natural history, factual, and drama. SES has been awarded the multi-year contract after responding to a BBCS and UKTV RFP where its service offering aligned with the BBCS and UKTV performance, business, and commercial requirements. The new deal also builds on BBCS
and UKTV’s desire for cloud innovation in the media industry. “Our UK and global audiences and advertisers expect seamlessly delivered high-quality services, and in the transforming world of broadcast we need flexibility and responsiveness to meet ever-changing audience demands. By selecting SES, we believe we have found a partner that is committed to delivering innovation and can meet our business needs going into the future,” said Marcus Arthur, president UK, Ireland BBC Studios and CEO, UKTV.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
M2A Connect will distribute Formula 1 live race streams to broadcast and OTT partners Operations service, alongside M2A CONNECT. Setting up and securing events, enabling last-minute changes and eyes-on-glass monitoring assure Formula 1 faultless end-to-end transmission and broadcast grade SLAs. M2A Media, creator of cloud-based video solutions, has confirmed that its justreleased cloud-IP transport service, M2A CONNECT, has been adopted by global sports brand, Formula 1®, to acquire, process and distribute the motorsport brand’s live content to global broadcasters and sports rights owners. M2A CONNECT provides Formula 1 with an eventbased cloud-IP transport service to manage secure entitlements of their live content. M2A Operations deliver the service using the M2A CONNECT console to monitor confidence feeds and the underlying Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Elemental Media Services. Operating as an orchestration layer over AWS Elemental MediaConnect, AWS Elemental MediaLive, and AWS Elemental MediaPackage, M2A CONNECT offers Formula 1 a single user-friendly web console and RESTful API. M2A CONNECT gives Formula 1 the capability to setup live sources, schedule events, add subscribers and entitlements, monitor live streams, create live event workflows and deliver tailored live video across multiple regions to diverse receivers. Formula 1 has also engaged M2A Media’s 24/7
Trevor Turner, Head of Media Systems Development at Formula 1, said: “The M2A Connect service is a step change in the evolution of Formula 1’s broadcast distribution model. M2A CONNECT will, in essence, allow F1® to service a greater number of broadcast partners in a more flexible and costeffective way and will help us distribute a greater volume of live race content than ever before. The team at M2A understands the challenges we face as a global sports brand and has responded to these challenges with a next generation media service that will help carry us into an IP over cloud-led future.”
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Canal+ upgrades its media IP infrastructure with EVS Cerebrum EVS, provider of live video technology for broadcast and new media productions, has announced that Canal+ has selected its recently acquired Cerebrum control and monitoring solution for a major overhaul of its inhouse MCR and TX playout management workflows. The Vivendi-owned French premium television channel and Entertainment streaming services becomes one of the first customers to implement an EVS media infrastructure solution since EVS acquired Axon early May.
EVS' Cerebrum broadcast control and monitoring system
Canal+ is deploying Cerebrum, an advanced broadcast control and monitoring system, to centralize and streamline its broadcast operations. In what is one of the largest Cerebrum projects to date, the new system will enable Canal+ to upgrade its legacy technology and â€œimprove its production workflowsâ€?, according to the press release. Previously, Canal+ integrated manual
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
operations for incoming broadcast feeds and playout management, enabling it to operate multiple channels simultaneously through various processes and control systems. The new solution will “automate and simplify” its workflows. With Cerebrum, Canal+ now can control both legacy SDI products and IP equipment. The EVS media infrastructure enables Canal+ to create a new workflow for optimizing the management of the incoming feeds, their processing and routing. For this project, EVS also developed a new license option for Cerebrum called
CRBM Scheduler, which provides Canal+ with a bespoke timeline for its scheduled events. “We needed a comprehensive media infrastructure solution that would give us the control and flexibility needed, during this exceptional transformation period, to provide the high-quality content our viewers expect in the most efficient way possible, and we have found that with EVS,” said Ralph Atlan, CTO at Canal+. “By transforming our legacy workflows we’ve put ourselves in the best position to capitalize on next-generation technologies and continue
to evolve our business to stay ahead of the competition.” Ian Hollamby, Cerebrum product manager at EVS added: “Canal+ was one of EVS’ first ever customers and has been a long-time valued partner, so we are perfectly positioned to help deliver this next-generation unified broadcast control system to help Canal+ centralize as well as unify its operations. With added capability to switch to IP in the near future, we’re on hand to support Canal+ achieve its long-term ambitions and vision for success.”
Production of Canal Football Club
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Lawo IP AV and core infrastructure upgrades Mediapro Argentina Mediapro Argentina, Latin American audiovisual services company, based in Buenos Aires, has recently turned to IP for a comprehensive technical upgrade of their facilities, where ESPN broadcasts sports-related programming for the region in Spanish. The new IP infrastructure has been integrated by UNITECNIC, the Mediapro Group systems integrator and engineering company, and is based on solutions and knowhow of Lawo, German manufacturer of pioneering network, control, audio and video technology for broadcast, post-pro, live performance and theatrical applications. In a first upgrade stage, Mediapro Argentina and Unitecnic have installed a V__matrix IP video system for edge conversion and signal 16
processing as well as an mc²-based audio infrastructure featuring six mc²56 production consoles, Nova audio routers, five Lawo Commentary Units (LCU), VisTool-based touchscreen control panels and several R3LAY virtual soundcards for integrating PC-based audio solutions into the ST2110/AES67/RAVENNA IP network. Lawo is no stranger to Mediapro Argentina as
they already installed Lawo equipment in their OB van, using an mc²56 production console, Compact I/Os and LCUs since May 2018. In January 2019, Lawo supplied an IP solution for the complete facility of CONMEBOL (South American football federation) with four ruby radio consoles and twelve LCUs in addition to a fully customized VisTool solution and a central PowerCore for routing tasks.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Rocky Mountain PBS Stations purchases multiple GatesAir Maxiva UHF transmitters GatesAir, a developer of wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio, has announces that Rocky Mountain Public Media, owner of a statewide Colorado network of PBS member stations, has acquired multiple GatesAir Maxiva UHF transmitters and ATSC 3.0-ready XTE exciters as part of an extensive, multi-station upgrade. Rocky Mountain PBS, owned and operated by
Rocky Mountain Public Media (RMPM), is taking a phased approach to transmission upgrades that will address the entire network over several years. The first phase was initiated through a repack project for KRMA-DT in Denver, a 30kW station, 100kW ERP, repacked from UHF Channel 18 to 33. The Channel 33 assignment required a new transmitter, with Rocky Mountain PBS purchasing a Maxiva ULXTE-50
liquid-cooled model and a backup UAXTE-6 air cooled transmitter, transmitting at 3kW. During the KRMA project, station engineers also evaluated vendor options for several other transmitter sites. Rocky Mountain PBS exclusively selected GatesAir Maxiva UAXTE air-cooled transmitters for all additional stations in the first phase, providing station engineers with a common transmitter for each site. To date, Rocky Mountain PBS has purchased UAXTE medium-to-high power transmitters for three fullpower PBS member stations, and low-power UAXTE systems for several translator sites. The translator sites deliver over-the-air program signals across rural areas of Colorado, and portions of neighboring states. ď ľ 17
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
Zixi and Harmonic bolster partnership for cloud based video delivery
Zixi has announced the integration of Zixi into Harmonic’s cloud based VOS®360 Live Streaming Platform, the company’s fully managed offering for delivering and monetizing live streaming services with exceptional quality from source to screen. A worldwide leader in video delivery technology and services, Harmonic enables media companies and service providers to deliver ultra-high-quality video streaming and 18
broadcast services to consumers globally. A SaaS offering running off a global public cloud infrastructure, Harmonic’s VOS®360 platform helps content creators and service providers launch revenue-generating, broadcast-quality channels quickly. To secure the content in transit throughout its delivery chain, the VOS®360 cloud infrastructure features the integrated Zixi SDVP that can receive live video from Harmonic
CloudLink, 3rd party devices and software with embedded Zixi, as well as from customers with deployed Zixi Broadcasters. With this joint solution, powerful end-to-end workflows can be seamlessly and efficiently created at all stages of the media processing and delivery chain, giving users the capability to receive content from the source, transfer to the cloud then immediately deliver to the viewer’s device.
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
Simon Roehrs joins Riedel Communications as Director, APAC Based in Singapore, Roehrs brings a rich background in sales executive management from prominent media technology companies to his new role. Roehrs began his career as a software developer and application support specialist at DVS GmbH, where he became lead programmer for the company's flagship products with a focus on the postproduction and broadcast studio industries. After the acquisition of DVS by Rohde & Schwarz, Roehrs later moved into a role as a solutions architect and service engineer based in Singapore and covering the APAC region, subsequently moving to Tokyo after a promotion to regional manager for APAC. Prior to joining Riedel, Roehrs had also served as APAC sales director for Lawo and as Japan cluster manager/regional director for Vizrt. "In the past couple of years, Riedel has significantly increased its impact and investment in the APAC region. We have successfully built a regional framework to support our growing customer base served by our subsidiaries in Japan, China, Singapore, and Australia, and by our network partners. Simon is the perfect person to take the helm," said Martin Berger, Chief Sales Officer at Riedel. "Not only does he bring deep technical industry expertise and regional knowledge to this important role, but he is a believer in industry standards and a highly influential speaker at major Asian conferences."
JP Delport promoted Managing Director at Broadcast Solutions UK
Having joined the UK company at the beginning of 2020 as Sales Director, JP Delport will now take the helm as Managing Director in the UK, reporting to the Broadcast Solutions Group management in Germany. JP Delport brings more than 15 years’ experience in the broadcast and communications industry, having held leadership roles at many companies at the forefront of broadcast technology, including DTC, Presteigne Broadcast Hire and Vislink. Having opened an office in Basingstoke, Hampshire, in 2019, and with JP Delport now being appointed as Managing Director, Broadcast Solutions underpins its commitment to the market and strengthens its presence in the UK.
DOP IN TV SERIES
Talent in the umpteenth TV Golden Age
DOP IN TV SERIES
By Sergio Julián
Historically, TV Series have been discredited in favor of the silver screen. Since “I Love Lucy” settled and consolidated sitcoms or “Doctor Who” created imaginative worlds out of scraps, many directors have openly criticized television for several reasons: its lack of creativity freedom, the enormous pressures of production, its tight budgets, or its concept as mass media (as if cinema were not!). There was no future for art: television was just banal entertainment. However, television knew how to reinvent itself, and these brave changes led to numerous “Golden Ages of Television”. One probably came with the introduction of “Hill Street Blues” (1981), thanks to the drive of NBC to allow its creators to reflect of the TV Series’ predefined concept with new features such as a more complex storytelling. Later, to expand its business and make a difference
between others pay television networks, this transformation was taken to new levels. This led to ground-breaking shows such as The Sopranos (1999) or The Wire (2002). These ambitious productions continued to spread throughout the 2000s with shows such as Lost (2004), this time in a commercial broadcast television network such as ABC, whose relevance was multiplied thanks to the eruption of internet forums and social networks. The recent arrival of a wide variety of VOD and OTT platforms has definitely increased the global reach (and budget) of the television series thanks to ambitious productions whose UHD capabilities are another claim for customers. Massive shows such as Game of Thrones (2011) and Stranger Things (2016) coexist with smaller-budget productions that, even so, have the best talent available in the audiovisual industry.
Therefore, the concept of broadcast technology is redefined. Those exclusive solutions that could only be seen on feature films shoots extend to productions for the small screen; cinema and television have never been so close, and that directly affects the content we enjoy on our televisions or mobile devices. We cannot respect the uniqueness of the term “The Golden Age of TV”, as we have been through several brilliant periods. Right now, we are experiencing a thrilling moment in the industry and that’s why we wanted to bring you insight into some of the artists that are making it possible. TM Broadcast International got in touch with some incredible DoPs to tell you about all the strategies and technologies that have accompanied them throughout their careers: Jamie Cairney (Sex Education), Armando Salas (Ozark) and Jessica Lee Gagné (Mrs. America). 21
DOP IN TV SERIES
(Ozark, Raising Dion)
The Editorial Team of TM Broadcast always tries to bring you interviews with the leading decision-makers in the creative industry. We manage to bring to you the best talents so they can reveal to us how they understand technology and make magic happen through it. This time, situation is slightly different, because beyond recognizing the relevance and the career of Armando Salas (ASC), he has been in our radar for years since weâ€™re big fans of its work, the look he achieves for series such as Ozark (Netflix) and Raising Dion (Netflix) and the way he approaches colour. Armando shares his vision on DoP with us.
DOP IN TV SERIES
Armando Salas in the center of the image
We’re pleased to interview you as a brand new ASC member! You have previously worked with other members of the society. Do you consider this to be a decisive step in your career? How do you feel after that acknowledgment? It’s exciting to be welcomed into the ASC. There are countless members whose work I’ve 24
followed, admired, and studied over the years. It’s an incredible honor to join them as a peer.
After attending several schools such as the Maryland Institute College of Art or the College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University, you began shooting films and commercials. What did you learn in these
areas before focusing on TV Shows? I photographed a dozen independent films before moving into episodic work. It was a great training ground for learning to think on your feet and execute a plan with little time and resources. On commercials I was able to experiment with technique and execution, on indie films I learned how to distill a director’s vision by
helping define it photographically. I brought that same mentality to episodic work.
Why did you decide to work on television shows in recent years? What’s so attractive about this area? Does creativity arise in current TV series?
You’ve been closely related to cinema since you moved to the United States of America. How specifically did you develop your passion for cinematography? I’ve been infatuated with cinema for as long as I can remember. Initially, it was a source of entertainment without consideration of a future career. I started drawing at an early age and went to magnet arts schools and eventually a fine arts college. I was fascinated with how to capture a moment in two-dimensional space—how to render a real-word image while curating that reality for the viewer. I studied photography as well. But when I shot Super 8 for the first time at age 17, it all clicked. I immediately knew what I would be doing for the rest of my life, even though I didn’t fully understand what it was to be a cinematographer.
I entered episodic in the new golden age of TV. I’ve been very fortunate that every show I’ve been part of was after a cinematic look with producers and show runners that have encouraged me to take risks and be true to the story. And because of the longer story arc, there is the added creative challenge of maintaining a look while keeping it fresh and exciting.
You’ve recently worked on two Netflix productions: Raising Dion and Ozark. What is it like to work on a series whose full season is published in one go? Does this help you unify different looks? Does this make your job harder? Because the season airs at once you don’t get any audience feedback until it’s all out there. You make choices throughout a season and hope that the sum of those decisions create the atmosphere and tone that help tell that particular story. 25
In addition, Netflix is betting on 4K HDR productions. What’s your experience working with these technologies? Have you started studying the use of 8K for future productions? I’ve become quite familiar with 4K HDR and have implemented onsetHDR workflows on both 26
“Raising Dion” and season 3 of “Ozark.” As for higher resolution sensors, I choose a camera format for each project based on many factors.
Migue Amoedo (Money Heist) and Chris Teague (Russian Doll) confirmed us that Netflix certifies certain cameras to guarantee the final look of its series. Does this
determine of your camera + lenses package? At this point, virtually every major manufacturer of professional digital cinema cameras has an approved camera or cameras on the Netflix list. So, I don’t find the list to be limiting. Choosing a digital camera now is like choosing a film stock. You
might have your favorite stock, but it may not be right for every project.
Ozark’s cinematography has evolved during each of its seasons. You joined the project in its second season and have worked on some of the most impressive episodes of the third season. What is it like to participate in a project that already has a particular photography signature? How did you adapt it to your style?
“Because the season airs at once you don’t get any audience feedback until it’s all out there.”
I was a fan of both the show and the photography when I joined for season 2. Once I submerged myself in that world, it slowly became second nature. Then, you’re just making decisions as you always do, following your instincts as you prep and shoot the show. And, of course, as the characters and story evolve, so does the look.
You chose different camera + lenses package for Ozark and Raising Dion. What were the particular needs of each project? Which cameras + lenses did you finally choose?
On “Raising Dion,” we shot on the Alexa LF paired with Leica Summicron-C, Thalias, and Zeiss Cinema Zoom lenses. I pitched the producing director on going with a larger sensor since we were both fans of wide lenses and shooting medium shots very close to the actors. It felt more immersive and three dimensional, which was important for the story, without distorting the image. The larger format also gave us a larger canvas for the more elaborate set pieces. The LF sensor renders contrast in a very gentle way while being able to preserve mood. The bit of noise in underexposure is very filmic and the highlight roll off feels organic. We had a diverse cast, so being able to photograph a broad range of skin tones within the same scene or shot was an important consideration. Although the show was composed in 2:1, we had several large VFX sequences where specific shots were photographed in open gate, which 27
DOP IN TV SERIES
Raising Dion making of
required the huge image circle of the Thalia and Zeiss large-format lenses. On Ozark, we chose to pair the Sony Venice with Leica Summicron-C and Leica R lenses, as well as a 50mm Leica Noctilux. The form factor and weight of the Venice was an important consideration along with the Realto accessory since we commonly shot in very difficult, remote, and/or tight locations on Ozark. The Venice has a cooler sensor with a bit more snap to the blacks, which paired well with the more vintage lenses. For that reason, I’d say 50% of the show is shot with the 35mm Leica R and 50mm Noctilux.
I would say that Ozark has a strongly defined color palette. Could you tell us more details on how you achieved its particular look? Most of the color in Ozark is baked into the negative. The camera is usually set near 4300K for day work and the LUT has quite a bit of desaturation. Our approach to day exteriors is to create contrast with negative fill,
which keeps our key grip Landen Ruddell very busy. For night work, I create a cool room tone and use the color of the practicals to motivate the actors’ light. For both stage and location, I almost exclusively use intelligent lighting so I can tweak the color of each light very quickly. Our gaffer Edison Jackson has control of every fixture on the board on stage or on an iPad on location.
Furthermore, Ozark includes several creative shots. Especially the aerial shots are particularly impressive. Did you attach your main camera to a drone? Did you use another camera and homogenize the look in postproduction? For important drone shots like the end of episode 309 where Wendy is driving at night, we used an Alexa mini. For day drone work, we typically used a smaller camera to allow for greater flight times and flexibility, and did our best to match the look in post.
Could you technically
explain to us how you solved the most challenging shots of Ozark and Raising Dion? Planning is key to executing technically challenging shots. Equally important is to surround oneself with talented crew that can pull them off. I was incredibly fortunate in that regard on both these shows.
What will be your next project? The film industry, like so many, is suffering right now. Productions are in a holding pattern until we can figure out how to get back to work safely.
In your opinion, how will the TV Series evolve technologically in the following years? For me, technology provides tools to better tell interesting stories. As a cinematographer, it’s my role to stay informed and involved in every aspect of image technology so we can continue to push boundaries while being the guardian of the image from pre-production through post. 29
DOP IN TV SERIES
(Mrs. America, Escape at Dannemora)
JESSICA LEE GAGNÉ
Donovan, the well-known Scottish singer often seen as the European response to the emerging Bob Dylan, sang on “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” about how colors build and deconstruct reality, and he translated it into music. This happened in 1967, but almost 45 years later the influence of painting for all kinds of arts, even technology, is still assumed by incipient DoP figures such as Jessica Lee Gagné. Obviously, photography and consequently cinema have further debts with paintings than music, but despite this is still interesting to discover how this young Cinematographer shares this understanding by defining the sensor “as a canvas” and lenses “as the brushes”. Let’s find out more of her, an artist who after just a few years of TV career has managed to define the look of relevation series such as Mrs. America (Hulu, FX) or Ben Stiller’s Escape at Dannemora (Showtime).
The creative side of the DoP is strongly related to the development of technology. Does technology limit you or give you infinite tools to develop your work? I definitely believe that technology can only help you as a tool if you choose to use it. In filmmaking it is up to the key players in
the crew to define the role of technology on a set and in post-production. I have worked with crews who depend on it and others who don’t have access to it and I always think the results are interesting either way. To me it’s about the end result; amazing films have been created with simple
classic tools and the same can be said about great new films that use technology to push the concept of filmmaking even further. Personally, I don’t use technology in a way that defines the aesthetic, but I utilize it to obtain a desired look.
As you already told us, each project is different. 31
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I assume you have a universe of references, but you decide how to combine them for each one of your works. What are the works, the main inspirations, which have defined your work as DoP? My first real approach to image making was through photography. I was instantaneously attracted to the object of the camera. I remember being given my grandfather and my auntsâ€™ 32
Jessica Lee GagnĂŠ
JESSICA LEE GAGNĂ‰
cameras and being proud of having them. I began reading old how to photography books and teaching myself how to shoot images. That technical interest then bloomed into a love of photography through understanding how to manipulate images. Photography has remained my main form of communication with directors. After reading scripts that I choose to collaborate on I get deep
into researching images. When starting to work on a new project, I love to go to Dashwood Books in NYC and buy a big stack of books that reflect what I am seeing in my mind. There are so many interesting cinematographers these days but for me. The one who always stands out the most is Gordon Willis. He truly changed the way we view and understand cinematography.
Anyway, do you have features or preferences that define your style? I am definitely influenced by the 70s when it comes to filmmaking, especially American films shot during that era. I am not quite sure why, but something about that economic style of filmmaking, the simplicity and elegance of the camera movement and the approach to available lighting that certain DPs and directors 33
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began using really suits my philosophy of filmmaking. I love a pan and a zoom.
What technology in the field of DoP has not yet been developed and are you looking forward to it? What tools would you like to see developed in the coming years? I find when it comes to on board monitoring we are not very advanced. I find the options available today not quite up to par for accurately representing contrasty Luts. So far, my favourite on board has been Odyssey 7q+â€™s. My DIT on Mrs America Kyo Moon introduced me to them and they are pretty impressive, but still not quite where I would like them to be. I feel this inaccuracy or lack of reliability has magnified the importance of a DIT on set for me. I depend on them much more for calling me out when I am doing crazy exposures. I often really underexpose the digital sensors in order to break down the digital 34
characteristics of the camera. I canâ€™t wait for a monitor that can truly depict detail on a small screen so I can make intuitive decisions immediately and not have to rely on anyone else down the chain and or second guess myself.
You think of a sensor as a canvas and lenses as the brushes. Could you give us more details of your vision on cinematography?
It sounds clichĂŠ but cinematography and its tools are interestingly linked to the medium of painting. When choosing a camera sensor one decides the size and texture of a canvas. This sensor is the base and foundation of the image you wish to create. Lenses are like brushes as they depict how light will be magnified through a lens. The light waves will curve and refract depending on the physical element of
JESSICA LEE GAGNÉ
ask myself if I want to be shooting this project for 6 months. Usually, when I really like a script I can see the visuals in my mind immediately and I can’t stand the idea of someone else shooting it. That's when I know I have to do it.
What’s your opinion on HDR technology? In my opinion, it could change the way we understand the final look of TV series.
the glass in the lens. And, ultimately, with light you paint colours and decide what and how much one will see.
What stimulates you the most when choosing a project? When choosing a project my decision always revolves around the script. No matter who is directing or acting in the picture, as a cinematographer you have to be able to connect with the writing. I always
The concept of HDR technology is tricky. I think it will be great for certain kinds of projects. However, I hope we will not be redefining the way we work or how we accept visuals as an audience because of it. I feel it should be up to the director and DP if they want to make real use of it for their projects. I understand it as the platform for viewing in the future but it doesn’t mean that as cinematographers and directors we should completely change our visual language for this new technology. To me that is where technology
can be detrimental to art, when we impose guidelines that limit and change how artists view things in their minds.
“Escape at Dannemora” has a strong expressiveness, with a creative use of focus and some impressive shots. What was your choice of camera + lenses for this project? The choice of camera for Dannemora was quite easy. We went with the Alexa Mini mainly for practical reasons. Its size allowed us to do a lot of gimbal work and fit in places where even our actors could not. I also really appreciate the grain structure of the camera and was able to show the director that a digital camera can look like film even if no grain is added. Our lens kit was quite elaborate due to all of the specialty shots we wanted to achieve. We were constantly testing and developing rigs during the shoot. We mainly utilized a set of G and T anamorphic lenses from 35
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panavision for primes. Then we had many zooms which we loved to use, such as the anamorphized or spherical ALZ 11:1s, panavisions ATZ 70200mm, and the VFL4X Canon/Panavision 150-600 spherical zoom.
prime lenses with shots that revolved around the Phyllis character always making her the center of attention. It is quite tricky to not make this kind of approach a gimmick. It needs to be very nuanced and subtle to function.
Your latest television project is “Mrs. America”. What were the main challenges in defining photography for this TV series?
“Mrs. America” has a strong 70s vibe. How did you accomplish this technically? What was your sensor choice?
Two very distinct narrative worlds are illustrated in Mrs America. It was important to everyone involved that they look different but still be part of the same bigger picture feeling. We used two distinct lens sets and also two different approaches to mise en scène. Our feminists were shot in a documentary fashion where we would often shoot three cameras with zooms to allow for improvisation and to capture many ladies at the same time, thus limiting how many times we would have to do takes. The Anti or Phyllis world was a heavier studio mode with 36
I believe to truly reflect the 70s style one must limit oneself to using technology that was popular during that era. The directors, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and I were only interested in using handheld or classic studio mode. There were a couple brief moments where we did use steadicam, however we kept it at a minimum. Choosing the lenses is the other big decision when it comes to having the right 70s look. Personally I go through a pretty long process of researching and exploring by testing lenses. I have become quite close with Panavision and have been
What has been the biggest challenge you had to face as DoP while filming a TV series? The most challenging thing for me in television is having to please all of the people making decisions. The television world has a lot more opinions than the film world, especially the indie and publicly financed world of filmmaking that I come from. At first I was quite resistant to this structure, now I am trying to see it as a positive and democratic process which opens up more creative ideas and solutions.
JESSICA LEE GAGNĂ‰
able to create a dialogue with them that allowed me to find new lenses I had not worked with before. Jerry Papernick at Panavision Toronto helped me find some of the older lenses we used and Dan Sasaki in LA detuned a new set of T series to match the older lenses we had. Also we went with the Venice for its amazing capacity to represent colours and handle highlights in an interesting way with our lenses.
What role did postproduction have in the final look of Mrs. America? The look of Mrs America is quite intense so I thought it was very important to bring up some of the important
decisions about post even before being hired. For me it is essential as a cinematographer to be able to choose who the colourist will be on a project. I am involved from start to finish with my work and I think one of the most important collaborators for cinematographers are their colourists. For Mrs. America I worked with Tom Poole at Company 3 in New York City to develop the look of the show. We worked hand in hand and I think when you find a colourist who really understands digital cameras today but also has done extensive work with the medium of film you can create any look you want.
Will you continue working on television series in your near future or are you thinking of returning to feature films? I am currently working on a new show with Ben Stiller again and I am very excited about this new project. It will be the longest form I have ever shot, 10 episodes. I find that a little daunting, however I see it as a chance to really define a look and style for a show. I will be doing things I have never done before and exploring a completely new world. I do think that after I will be desperate to shoot a nice 40 days feature though. ď ľ
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(Sex Education, Donâ€™t Forget the Driver)
There’s a factor which is common between the creative filmmakers communities around the world: the profound passion they have developed for television and film since they were children. That fascination was the match that started the careers that are currently fascinating another generation as you are reading these words. Blessed circle of life! Jamie Cairney was one of those kids who were fascinated by the technology he could see on television. Decades later, after developing a career that started on the BBC, he’s giving its best to create, together with its creative partners, the amazing world of “Sex Education” (Netflix), an exciting journey that have captivated the attention of millions of viewers worldwide. It’s time to delve into his past, present and future.
DOP IN TV SERIES
Taking a closer look at some of your latest shows, I could identify some of your style. But I prefer that you explain it directly to our readers. What’s Jamie Cairney’s signature as DoP? I like to think that I don’t have a ‘style’ per se. I like to think of myself as a chameleon who will change his colours depending on the project. I am always led by story and that informs my creative decisions. I also don’t want to be known as the “guy who does that”... I would like people to hire me for my open mindedness and board range of taste. Having said that, of course there are certain ideas that you might be able to identify across my projects. If I could name one, it would be a sense of environment, where a story is set is always as important to me as the characters. I enjoy a sense of place and this always features in my work.
What’s the deal about direction of 40
I like to think of myself as a chameleon who will change his colours depending on the project.
photography? When did you decided to focus your work exclusively on this exciting area? I knew I wanted to be involved with camera from a really early age. I think I decided I was going to be a camera operator aged 8! Initially it was multicamera television camera operation that excited me and I quickly became obsessed as a child. I would spend a lot of time at the library, reading all the books about television production and also watching television outside broadcasts, where
there might be a chance of seeing a camera in shot. As I got into my teenage years I joined a film making club and realised that becoming a Director of Photography would be my goal.
You’ve made some films, but your main area of work is devoted to TV Shows and some commercials. What’s so good about working on TV Shows? Do you appreciate its length, possibilities or creative freedom compared to other areas? I’ve ended up mainly
shooting TV because I started in TV - at the BBC. I’m lucky that I have always been busy, so one show just led to another. TV is generally a much more reliable and frequent employer than film; you never know if a film is going ahead until you are behind the viewfinder whereas TV projects always shoot when they say they’re going to shoot. Creatively the differences between television and film are narrower than they’ve ever been, but you still can’t beat watching a movie on the silver screen!
Sex education s1 and s2
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Don’t forget the driver
Do you think that “cinematography” on TV Shows has evolved in recent years? Yes, completely. The streaming platforms have definitely driven this, but also to a certain extent this has to do with producers and directors rightly being more ambitious and daring. In the past there was more fear of pushing boundaries and exploring ‘dangerous’ creative avenues for fear of being reprimanded or sacked! As a DoP, you’d run the risk of getting in trouble if you did something risky like underexposing or using a 42
wacky lens. Obviously some of the tools have given us more creative freedom; previously 16mm was reserved for the big dramas and looked great, but everything else had to be shot on Betacam or HDCam, which were pretty limiting. Now we can all shoot on 35mm systems and use Panavision lenses. And of course, now people are shooting TV shows on Alexa 65.
How do you face each one of your projects? What are the stages of your work? Firstly I need to identify with something in the script for me to want to
shoot it. It has to engage me and excite me, just like a book or a favourite film for me to be able to draw on my imagination and start creating a world in my mind. On a second read, I’ll start jotting down ideas - as many as I can, so I can pick and choose the most suitable ones later. I’ll present these to the Director and Production Designer, so we can merge our ideas and start the wonderful process of creating our world for the project. During this process we will share images, films, art, colour ideas to help refine these ideas.
In recent years, we’re dealing with two ground-breaking technologies, demanded both by studios and global distribution companies. How do 4K / HDR productions affect your work? I love HDR. Used correctly it gives you so much control; it’s what we’ve been wanting in the video/digital capture domain for years. Pretty much all my projects in the last 2 years I have graded HDR first, SDR second. Technicolor in London gave me a demonstration of HDR when they first started adopting it. They used some footage of a show I had shot (without HDR in mind) and I couldn’t believe how much more was in the image. Resolution is constant debate. I’m as happy shooting super 16mm as I am 8K Red. It’s whatever’s right for the project.
Do you have a preferred manufacturer for your works? No, I am totally format and lens agnostic. I am just as happy with film as I am with digital. I enjoy spending time choosing the right combination for the job. I am not adverse to the process of making one digital format look like any other (in post) but I do find it quite boring. For me it’s much more fun to create the look with the tools on set rather than staring at a computer screen.
You’ve worked in TV shows, such as “Don’t Forget the Driver”, that I’ll say is clearly focused on the UK market. But you’ve been actively working on “Sex Education”, which in my opinion is intended for Netflix’s global audience. Does this affect, in any way, your work as DoP? No, first and foremost the story will inform my creative decisions.
Your latest known work is Season 2 of “Sex
Education”. Could you give us more details about the technology you deployed and why did you choose it? Sony Venice / 4K 17:9 with 2.00:1 extraction / X-OCNST / Zeiss Master Primes / Fujinon Premier Zooms I opted for the Venice because at the time, though testing, I determined it handled colour better than other digital platforms. They have the sensor size and resolution options just right; no issues with coverage at 4K and high speeds. The X-OCN-ST codec is incredible and highly efficient. We had two cameras rolling all the time and the demand on our DIT and storage was significantly less than other options. Also the 500/2500 dual ISO feature is the best I’ve seen; there is barely a difference between the two. I used Master Prime lenses for a few reasons; firstly their look, which I felt would resolve the settings, faces and eyes in the best way. They wouldn’t 43
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detract from the story but at the same time look beautiful when wide open. Secondly, I wanted the 21 and 27mm lengths - our most used lenses. The 27mm Master Prime in particular is a wonderful lens. Finally, I knew I would need a lot of lenses for our 2 main cameras as well as 2nd and 3rd units and aerial units, and the Master Primes were easy to get hold of. Their manufacturing tolerances are much higher than other lenses, so you have less matching problems. The Fujinon Premier zooms are excellent; we
Sex education s1 and s2
mainly used the 18-85 T2, and it’s very hard to tell the difference between it and the primes.
In “Sex Education” I’ve seen two major creative decisions that affect photography: the great importance of colour, including an aggressive use of its saturation; and the management of “chiaroscuro”, which includes in-depth work of atmospheres. How did you achieve the final look of “Sex Education”? The look of the show is the result of a close collaboration between
Director, Production Designer, Costume Designer, Location Manager and myself. The Director brought his initial ideas and we complemented them with ours. We spent a long time talking about it and enhancing these ideas. The strong colours initially came from costume and that helped inform the production design. I set about designing a lighting approach that would enhance this. I didn’t feel I needed to add a lot of colour to the light (which is quite fashionable at the moment) because the
A time machine!
And what about the biggest challenge you ever faced as DoP? Every project is the next big challenge, but always the biggest for me is getting it right and doing the story justice. Flowers
costume and sets were bringing so much. Instead, I aimed for heightened reality, nearly always keeping the light fairly natural and optimistic.
Grading and Finishing are especially relevant in current productions. How do you like to get involved in these final processes of the production? Post production is as important as the shoot; it’s important as DoP that you keep a close eye on what is happening to ensure it doesn’t drift from your original intention. I requested that we use the ACES colour workflow to
ensure there were no hidden conversions or transforms. Of course you want to have a colourist who understands your vision but can also bring their ideas as well. It’s best to have them on board before you start the shoot, so you can grade some tests, maybe develop some LUTS, etc. We had the very talented Thomas Urbye grading our pictures and he brought a lot to the show; I really enjoy working with him.
What’s that huge technological innovation that you are waiting for and that will improve (or make easier) your work as DoP?
What’s next for you? What technology do you think that will shape DoPs’ future in TV Series? Workwise, I am shooting a film in Bulgaria for director Scott Dale and Millennium Media. The future? Right now, our understanding of and working within the restrictions of Covid-19 will have the biggest impact not just DoPs, but all of us. Aside from this, LED is the technology that continues to have the biggest and most exciting future for DoPs; I am especially excited for the Astera NYX Bulb! https://asteraled.com/nyx/ 45
By CARLOS MEDINA, Audiovisual Technology Expert and Advisor
At present, LIVE production provides us with countless professional fields, from TV broadcasts to music coverage and concerts, even to the world of mapping and visuals; scenic arts disciplines; the various applications
relating to Digital Signage; possibilities developed in the training area and professional environments of businesses by means of collaboration systems; and also merely acts and events to which the audience just goes in order to enjoy content
such as political campaign closing events , opening events, prize-giving ceremonies, parties and social celebrations. Each of the above situations poses a number of issues to sort out that are inherent to LIVE
production itself. As for audiovisual technology used, we need to decide which is the most suitable and best adapted to make each LIVE production run smoothly, from preparation of content up to how end users get to enjoy it.
All these types of production have something in common, as they use a term such as LIVE: immediacy. Nowadays, making a LIVE production means generating audiovisual and/or multimedia content that takes place in real time and simultaneously between production and reception of the same by end users
or end recipients. Therefore, in order to clear away some doubts on the reality of LIVE production, we must establish a difference between â€˜recordedâ€™ that is, any audiovisual product that has been produced previously and therefore becomes canned (closed) material and simply intended to be reused and/or viewed. Needless
to say, the content of LIVE production may include recorded videos that are shared during said 'live' real time. And going even further, when a LIVE production is recorded and then viewed some time afterwards, it is not a LIVE production anymore as it becomes material for filing; it is a deferred production.
Yet another feature of LIVE productions is multispatial coverage, meaning that said content may come from one or several places/locations that coincide in time. Neither distance nor geographical location of such places matter; there are technological solutions in place capable of generating and sharing said
multimedia/audiovisual content. By now we all understand what setting up a connection or link involves with a place that is different from a location where LIVE production is being made. And last, LIVE
productions are multiplatform. This means that different technologies and technical applications are supported both for generation of content and for distribution and reception. Furthermore, one of the novelties we are now witnessing as compared to former times is that each of us is now capable of making LIVE productions for use in our professional and even personal environments. Technology has put at the usersâ€™ fingertips the possibility of becoming producers and distributors of live AV/multimedia content. In these times we are now experiencing, with the prevailing COVID19 situation, who has not arranged to meet at a certain time for videoconferencing in groups of four, five or even more people to talk, share, connect with friends and relatives? Each of us has been -and is- an active part of a LIVE production. This is just one example at hand, although large R&D+i (Research, 50
Development and Innovation) progress is involved, and an increasingly common one that enable us to go deeper into LIVE environments. Therefore, we can simply list some of the elements comprising this kind of LIVE production: various smartphones equipped with a microphone, speaker/earphones and video camera, an
application enabling interconnection among several users (either free or for a fee: Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Instagram Live, Houseparty, Google Classroom, Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams...) a current subscription to a mobile data network (domestic or international carriers such as Movistar, Orange, Vodafone, Jazztel,
MásMóvil, Yoigo, Digi Mobil, Lowi, among others). And then we can start sharing videos, still photos, and any other kind of documents such as PDF files, chatting, sending audios and links to websites… We can just carry out a true LIVE production with enormous possibilities and a high degree of interactivity. We
just have to set a time and experience the vicissitudes of LIVE: it is good that everything runs smoothly and we are then able to enjoy communicating; it is okay that we may experience a number of issues such as image and audio lag, choppy conversations, poor signal reception, varying image and sound qualities, very long delay times or even error or disconnection messages. The above issues can happen in home/personal environments, although no one likes to have them, whereas what we really want is a smooth, nice and close communication with friends and relatives. So, if a LIVE production increases in size, it is made with generous budgets, proper professional commitments and international coverage spanning many users and/or attendees, such errors, faults or negligence issues cannot be allowed in production. Therefore, the first thing we need to establish in this article is a clear-cut
definition of ‘LIVE’ in a specific environment such as technical audiovisual coverage of a live event, through the use of technical means suitable for said environment and skill and preparation of technical staff carrying out a LIVE production. This distinction must be very clear, as there are significant differences in the way of operating and the technology used as compared to other environments and professional fields, such as a movie shooting, the audio for a concert, or a broadcast of a sports event by a TV station (which is considered as the true LIVE), for instance. In view of the fact that the TV environment has now years of experience in the generation of live content, the fitting thing to do is to use TV broadcast equipment as this equipment meets certain requirements and professional standards approved by various commissions and specialized organizations domestically or at 51
international level- that define the quality of both technical equipment and audiovisual results obtained. However, at present there are many manufacturers offering technology and solutions that are perfectly tailored to the desired degree of coverage, from 4K LIVE to low-end DSRL camera coverage. Any LIVE production is normally based on the use of image/video and audio as the spark of the LIVE production itself, which we will term from now on as input sources. And taking into account that the end goal of a LIVE production is disseminating, broadcasting, projecting and conveying audiovisual content, this falls in which we know as output sources. This terminology concerning input and output sources allows us to generically cover all resources that exist and/or may exist when it comes to producing LIVE. And before going into the elements of LIVE production, we must stress 52
the fact that ‘live’ resources and ‘recorded’ resources may be used in order to form a whole within the LIVE production, depending on the type and intended use of each particular production. Within the environment of image/video video cameras are used as ‘live’ input sources. Although it is simple to understand that we could only use a single video camera, both the audiovisual market itself and users/audience/viewers demand higher coverage in order to be able to 'view' and enjoy as much detail and content as possible. That is why the production element of a LIVE cast when it comes to capturing images is using the so-called camera chain/system and therefore a way of producing under a modality known as 'multicamera'. But why camera systems? The answer lies in the very way of producing, monitoring and offering visual content
featuring the highest technical and artistic quality possible. A camera chain/system comprises the following elements: camera body with the most suitable optical system based on placement of the camera in regard to what must be captured and the kind of take to be offered, a camera cable through which the various signals and communication orders come and go –such as tally and intercom(featuring optic fibre or triax cable nowadays), and a base station for controlling the camera
(Electronic Field Production) or PCS (Portable Camera System) camera systems, these being more compact and portable pieces of equipment.
from which the outgoing video signal that we will use as input source will exit. These elements must be used based on the number of cameras independently deployed. For example, a six-camera LIVE production must have six camera systems. Additionally, each camera system will feature one OCP (Operational Camera Panel) for implementation of the camera’s own technical adjustments in order to have the whole camera set to use the same technical and artistic parameters so as to obtain
an identical image (as for instance, the same red level or a correct exposure; but not the same content, framing or take). There are two technological solutions in response to types of camera systems: the ones traditionally known as set cameras –in their current version as a camera system- with optical coupling, of which GRASS VALLEY’s product range known as Reflex SuperXpander or SE Expandor by IKEGAMI are worth highlighting. And a second solution, EFP
In the latter product line, manufacturer GRASS VALLEY has implemented in the market for some years now the LDK camera range for live production, which has been successfully adopted in TV series, LIVE coverage and/or TV broadcasts, thus becoming the prevailing standard for production of high-definition content. At present, the LDX enables meeting technical requirements in UHD, HDR and IP networks. We can also mention the solutions that have been available from SONY nearly since the inception of the audiovisual field, which is nowadays reflected in the HDC camera systems. Model HDC-5500 comes standard with support for broadcast through optic fiber under an ultra high bitrate (UHB), it is exceptionally lightweight and enduring, 53
and features HDR and slow-motion capture. And HXC in its most economical range.
On the other hand, PANASONIC -through its AK range- provides models featuring high capacities for signal broadcast (AKHC500 o AK-UC3000GSJ); and this manufacturer’s flagship product, its 4K VariCam 35 model, for integration within coverage systems in live broadcasts with a cinemalike look. Also HITACHI, which does not want to see its market share in camera systems decrease, presents it SK series to provide solutions both under UHD and FHD or providing high frame-rate (HFR) capture. It is true that not all LIVE productions –due to budgetary constraints- are capable of taking camera systems onboard, but we consider them in this feature article as the most efficient solution in the process for multicamera implementation in LIVE productions. In this regard, it is highly convenient to be aware of the solutions 54
being provided by JVC (ProHD range, and their multicamera adaptation unit) or BLACKMAGIC, through its most compact model, the Micro Studio Camera. All these types of cameras must be mounted on a support (VINTEN, SACHTLER) or on a tripod (MANFROTTO, CARTONI, SACHTLER, BENRO, AXIS…), which offer safety, lightness and great stability for camera operations. Or also onshoulder cameras equipped with some kind
of easyring support or with some other accessories such as: steadycam, travelling, cranes, hotheads, spidercam, slider Dolly… Each model and range described so far require a camera operator in order to carry out tasks such as framing, focusing or camera movements. In the environment of LIVE productions, sometimes due to budgetary reasons –cutting down in human resources- and some other times because of location of cameras in small spaces
(AW series), although other brands have arisen that enable better accessibility of PTZ for LIVE production: JVC, DATAVIDEO, MINRRAY, BIRDDOG, NEWTEK, MARCAM, DIGITEX, among others.
or in order not to get in the way of the LIVE's own content, remotely controlled cameras are being used. There are two modalities. On the one hand, a multi-purpose camera system: SONY HDC-P1, PANASONIC AK-UB300GJ, CANON ME200S-SH, HITACHI DK-H100 or GRASS VALLEY LDX C82; and on the other, the socalled PTZ (Pan-TiltZoom) cameras, in which the market leaders are SONY (BRC series or SRG series) and PANASONIC
Connectivity in the visual field has always tended to be ‘wired’ and therefore subject to the deployment of cables in LIVE productions. However, when it comes to sound we can choose either wired solutions or wireless solutions, as performance provided by any of these options is perfectly feasible. As for audio, a ‘live’ input source is made possible through the use of microphones. Undoubtedly, there are broadly varying types of microphones depending on the work environment where they are used and their technical features for capturing some sounds or others. We insist on the fact that for very specific sound capture situations, there is a highly specialized range of
microphones, mostly for musical instruments. As a general rule are used in LIVE production microphones featuring adequate response levels for human voice. Based on design and operating reasons, the most widely used types are: handheld, neck (lapel or lavalier), headset and/or shotgun (short and/or long) microphones. Manufacturers of handheld microphones such as SONY (F-112, F780), RODE (M1, Reporter), SENNHEISER (XS1, E-835), AKG (D5, D7), SHURE (SM58, BETA 58), BEHRINGER (XM8500, SL 85); shotgun microphones: RODE (NTG series), SENNHEISER (MKE 600), SONY (ECM-VG1, ECM673); lavalier: AKG (C-417 L), SENNHEISER (MKE series) SHURE (MX and TL series), SONY (ECM-44B, ECM-77B); and headset microphones: THE T.BONE (TWS 16 HeadmiKeD 821 MHz Set), AKG (WMS 40 Mini HeadmikeD ISM1 Set) or SENNHEISER (SL Headmic Set DW-3 EU R). As a solution for wireless 55
microphony, are worth noting the contributions by SONY (generation 3 of DWX or the URX - UWP-D series); Sennheiser (XSW 1835, EW122P G4); Shure (UHF-R system). In regard to audio, accessories such as windscreens, hooksticks, stands and booms are used, as well as other equipment for application of filters, effects and processors. And we cannot be oblivious of ‘recorded’ (video/audio) materials that may be used as yet
another input source, so we need to have playback equipment, recorders (VTR or what has nowadays come to be called recording and playback equipment or systems, also known as recorders or, under a classic acronym in the AV field, a VTR –Video Tape Recorder – PLAY or REC); or if you are a bit more up to date, the DVRs or deck systems). Thus, we find those that are stationary, that is, made part of a fixed technical installation; and the so-called external or portable units, which can
be used in different work situations (such as outdoors) because of their easy mobility, compact size and weight. (See article ‘Duplication, Recording and Storage). Of course, there is the possibility of having equipment that enables replay of previous ‘live’ action; as an absolute example watching a penalty kick in a football match. The solution most widely used is EVS (LSM), but we can also present the instant replay and slow-motion camera 3Play by NEWTEK. And also the Sennheiser XSW 1-835 A-Band Vocal Set
inclusion of lettering, graphics and logos when we run software (GC) that facilitates integration of those visual and narrative resources. Once we have established which are our input (video/audio) sources, as they are more than one, we need use equipment that is capable of putting all them together regardless of source equipment, quality and end use of the same. These are the video mixers and sound tables, essential elements for LIVE production.
Therefore, mixers or switchers enable us to select (play), mix, embed and manipulate sources for video input in order to get video output signals. This type of equipment works to make all input signals usable. The limitation here is that the output signal can only be a single one, the so-called master or programme signal (PGM). This PGM is the video output signal that is broadcast, projected and disseminated (irrespective of the technology being used); it is a mix resulting
from input video sources (together with audio sources), that is 'the programmeâ€™. Although from a purely creative point of view, this signal may be a mere background or a combination of visual resources (background together with various foregrounds, different keyers and/or DSK, that is, featuring 2D and 3D transitions, visual effects, logos, titling, key chromas, PinPâ€Ś). Both video mixers and sound tables feature a wealth of varying 57
ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K
equipment depending on the use or the environment where the equipment is to be used. Both success and widespread use of LIVE productions have been configuring equipment that is adapted to the most significant needs in this environment as a solution. That is the reason why it is pointless in this article to include the video mixers used for TV production of a control room in a set, so here we highlight equipment units that are lightweight while offering sufficient coverage for input and output through easy operations. Thanks to the current possibilities offered by 58
electronics and IT a â€˜multiformatâ€™ mixer type has become increasingly popular. This is equipment capable of processing and mixing an open range of signal types and formats by defining the input/output signal type in the configuration menu of the MIXER itself. All mixers have a PST (B) bus and a PGM (A) bus for switching input signals and, in order to facilitate the change from one to the other, an effect known as 'flip-flop' is used for switching from previous and programme signals successively. When a source changes from previous to programme it is immediately replaced by another and so on. This is the most basic
operation: mixing between A and B by applying transition types such as cut, mix, crossfader, fade or wipe. Mixers allowing for increased functions and creative possibilities include a key bus or several keyers (together with their relevant adjustments), which combined with the above two make up for the main section of a mixer (P/P or Program/Preset). The most complete, competitive mixers will replicate the functionality of buses by forming what is known as the M/E (Mix/Effect) bench, thus allowing higher processing and visual effect capabilities. This is one of the parameters
that are easier to identify both in specifications and in design of the control panel in video mixers: by looking at the number of benches, we can identify 1 M/E, 2 M/E, 3 M/E, or whatever considered by the manufacturer of the equipment. Therefore, for a LIVE production we can rely on two kinds of mixers. First, the so-called compact video mixers. These are of a smaller size, and less robust in build. Their economical price makes them truly attractive when multicamera production is simple, both due to the lesser number of video input/output sources and to the type of mix to
undertake (cut, mix, wipe). Normally with an M/E console. BLACKMAGIC (Design ATEM Mini or ATEM Studio), DATAVIDEO (SE series) FOR-A (HVS1200), JVC (KM-IP4100 Connected Cam Studio), PANASONIC (AV-UHS500 or AV-HS410), or SONY (MVS-3000, somewhat more complete) are some manufactures specializing in this video mixer market segment. And the second type, known as integrated video mixers. Also called 'All in One’ devices. These are consoles used for covering ‘live’ events, so they come crammed with functions in order to increase their operating possibilities. Thus, additions are an audio mix section, touchscreen, streaming out multiviewer or internal REC (through a USB port). ROLAND (V series, worth noting is V-800HD), EDIROL, DATAVIDEO go for this solution, which join classics such as products from PANASONIC (AG-HMX100) and SONY (MCS-8M or MCX-500) and the innovation provided
by EVS with X-One. In this group worth noting are the so-called cast mobile mixers (portable switchers and video production studios). They are lightweight and feature a very attractive design, including a multiview screen as well as a section for tally and intercom. Very relevant in this regard are models by SONY (Anycast AWS-G500) or DATAVIDEO (Mobile Studios, HS range) or LIVESTREAM Studio (H550 4K). Whenever these mix/switchers are embedded in a rack in the fashion of a small TV studio, they are known as PPU (Portable Production Unit: multiviewer monitors, VTR recorder, CCU, waveform monitors and vectorscope, intercom, tally…), as for example NAGASOFT NSCaster 5812. In regard to sound tables, we must once again establish a difference by table types: tables for radio, for TV, monitor tables, tables for PA and for multi-track 59
recording. In a LIVE environment and provided there are no live sound technicians available, a type of table equipped with all the features offered by a radio/TV table is normally used. This kind of audio tables do not come with many input channels and feature gain adjustment, equalization, sending to effects, panoramic and mute option and are therefore easy-to-operate units that offer L and R 60
signals for master output. Some manufacturers specializing in sound tables for LIVE production are YAMAHA (03D, MG12, 01V96VCM, or DM1000); BEHRINGER (X32, SX2442FX, or the slightly smaller Xeny802B); SOUNDCRAFT Signature 10; MACKIE ProFX16v3; TASCAM Model 24; DAS AUDIO Event 12.24 FX; ALLEN & HEATH Qu-16 Chrome, among others. Video and/or audio
output sources, when intended for projection, broadcast, dissemination, upload, and distribution are called master signals. These are a result of the technical coverage inherent to LIVE productions or whatever other technicians from other fields offer us. For instance, sound technicians in a concert performed by a music band will provide us with an audio master signal (L and R if we would like to
have a stereo signal). We have discussed both in the explanation and in the proposal for equipment a complete range that can be used in a LIVE production whenever the configuration is carried out on-site or in facilities located nearby the LIVE event. However, we must include a solution that will be increasingly affordable for LIVE production, such as the use of mobile units. A mobile production unit (i.e. an OB Van) is nothing but a large-size vehicle (truck and/or van) in which the transport space has been devoted to installation of all the required AV equipment (set-up, wiring, technical controls) as well as the various work areas to enable technicians perform a multicamera LIVE production. Thus, we can use mobile units of different sizes depending on the coverage that must be made in the LIVE production. ‘S’ (Small) size in a mobile unit means relying on up to 4 camera systems and a 4-people
team on board a van, whereas in an ‘XXL’ unit (trailer truck) work up to 30 people and about 25 cameras. In any LIVE production the technology used is the key, but also is the documentation generated (scripts, work plans, quotations, block diagrams, camera reports, broadcast reports, step outlines…) in order to create efficient work dynamics; and no less important, the experience and professionalism of the human team allocated, with professionals such as: camera operators, video operators, sound technicians, sound and video mixers, director, producer, as well as assistants for each of the above areas, with specific, hierarchical roles. Communication through airwaves, satellite and/or physical networks such as optic fibre, IP protocols or streaming is what makes possible reaching everywhere, blurring the borders between cities and countries. Making a LIVE
production clearly involves determining the technology we want based on performance and quality, also considering budget constraints and in view of the content and the communication intent, with a high degree of interaction/interactivity and a transmedia approach, given the times we are living in, with users demanding to be a part of said live production. But always a LIVE operation, regardless of the decision made for production and broadcast, has a determining factor that makes it very attractive: the risk that everything goes well, not so well or bad, as well as the ability to improvise, the event’s own dynamism and the outcome of the content reaching the viewers and/or audience. As the lyrics of the music band Queen rightly say: “Show must go on…”. Making a LIVE production is closer to what is experienced in a theatre than what is shown in a cinema, which is merely a canned film. 61
DoP in TV Series: Talent in the umpteenth TV Golden Age, with Jamie Cairney (Sex Education), Armando Salas (Orzak) and Jessica Lee Gagné (Mr...
Published on Jul 10, 2020
DoP in TV Series: Talent in the umpteenth TV Golden Age, with Jamie Cairney (Sex Education), Armando Salas (Orzak) and Jessica Lee Gagné (Mr...