Virtually on-set – managing productions when your crew can’t travel
The way we make movies most certainly must change. In the best of circumstances, we are a crew of 75 people jammed into a room with very little ventilation, holding our breath until we hear “CUT”. We are in close contact with one another all day long. We never really thought about it before. All of that is about to change.
The ability to communicate with creatives and teams on a shoot and to monitor live, has always been crucial. Without constant, real-time contact between above and below-the-line teams, it’s difficult to maintain the necessary control and direction of a production.
The last 3 months have made this more difficult to achieve. The current advice of a typical regional film agency is that the maximum amount of people allowed on set in total is 50. Social distancing rules will see productions to reduce crew sizes and limit the time that executives, screenwriters, talent and clients spend on-set.
The Long Shot
Remote monitoring within a set is made possible by zero latency cable-free transmitters, wireless follow focus and local area networks with wireless video access points. However, how can truly remote staff and executives, 10 miles or a whole continent away, maintain instant, direct communication with the on-set crew and monitor the production from afar?
The answer, for crews with access to a broadband connection is the Teradek Cube. Cube enables the crew to securely stream the camera’s SDI output to Teradek Core cloud platform for remote viewers to view over the Internet. CoreTV is an encrypted feed that allows you to safely send video to iPads and iPhones. If you are using a Cube decoder to receive the live feed on a production monitor or TV, Cube uses SRT Protocol to ensure your feed’s safety. Both options offer an unlimited and secure form of sharing content.
With encoded video there is an element of delay (from less than a second to around 5 seconds depending on the network and configuration of the IP equipment). Therefore, no network transmitted video solution can be used for precise, real-time management of camera controls or focusing, but as a high quality off-site viewing platform, Cube and Core enable that vital level of secure and reliable engagement with the wider production and finance team.
The Wider Context
When the camera is not rolling, teams working on-set can obviously see the wider context, the interaction between crew and the state of readiness to shoot the next scene. If remote viewers can only monitor the main camera, their engagement is severely limited between takes.
Cube and Core again provide the solution. Technicians can take the feed from any other on-set camera – a wide shot from a DSLR for example – and share the live set securely with remote teams and executives.
Two-way Remote Comms
Remote monitoring is not necessarily a passive exercise. The IFB capabilities of the latest generation of Cube and Bond devices means instant two-way communication between executives and crew using a Cube decoder. There’s certainly no need for an insecure and clumsy conference call; crews can rely on trusted broadcast-level belt packs for precise and clear comms.
Fixing Connectivity Issues
Encoded video and audio are transmitted over public and private broadband networks. This can put remote communication at the mercy of low bitrate connections. There are two main solutions if you’re in an area with poor Internet:
- Firstly, Cube encoders support HEVC (H.265) with advanced compression which reduces the bitrate by around 50% for the same quality HD video. This means that slow Internet connections can still deliver the goods.
- No broadband? Teradek’s bonded video solution allows crews to aggregate four mobile SIM cards simultaneously, from one or more cellular networks. Again, the signal is routed via Core to share live feeds directly with remote teams.