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This last weekend, Aug 16-18, I was hired by a production company to help them live stream Seattle Hempfest. My goal was to bring the equipment needed to produce a high quality live video stream of the main stage, and be on site to ensure everything worked. Well, as you can imagine, it wasn’t all roses. But we DID stream a high quality video feed.

Using the Blackmagic Design 4K streaming rig at Seattle Hempfest 2013

Using the Blackmagic Design 4K streaming rig at Seattle Hempfest 2013

The first challenge presented right when I showed up. I had no prior knowledge of what cameras and sources would be used. I didn’t have a site survey. I didn’t even have the link we were streaming to. It was something of a nightmare, trying to plan a production in less than 12 hours.

The Software Control for the BMD Production Studio 4k switcher at Seattle Hempfest

The Software Control for the BMD Production Studio 4k switcher at Seattle Hempfest

Day 1, and there are far too many cooks in the kitchen. As anyone who does troubleshooting knows, you generally have a checklist of things to go through and test/verify, and done in a certain order. The LAST thing you need is a group of well-intentioned yet uninformed people consistently offering advice and suggestions. Still, in spite of coms issues and some other things, we got up and running.

The main challenge I faced was with the cameras themselves. With a mix-and-match selection of cameras,I had the task of taking component, HDMI and SDI cameras, and get them into the switcher. This isn’t too difficult if you have a couple analog to SDI converters, but they didn’t have the budget for those. So, I brought my Roland V-440HD with my streaming kit, and brought in component to the V-440, and then converted the VGA out to HDMI with a nifty little Atlona box that now (after BMD’s latest firmware) DOES work with the ATEM again. We had to switch the four component cams (jib, pit, backline, wide) on the V-440, then use the ATEM to call it’s source when we wanted that camera. Complicated? Yes, but it worked out well.

Then, we had the challenge of trying to stream the ATEM’s mix live. The original plan was to use Wirecast Pro so they could have lower third ads, etc. Unfortunately, the PC they brought didn’t allow for HDMI or SDI capture. I attempted to use a T-Mobile hotspot as a router to allow a Teradek Cube to connect as a Wirecast source via Wifi, but it was too late, and they wanted to stream NOW. So, we went straight from the Cube to the stream’s RTMP site, and BOOM: a LIVE HD stream.

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The audio mix was no big deal. The Blackmagic Design Studio 4K has XLR in, and a quick 2-line input from this HUGE audio board, and we were all set.

Seattle Hempfest 2013 featured live HD stream performance by Everlast, HED PE and more

Seattle Hempfest 2013 featured live HD stream performance by Everlast, HED PE and more

By day two, when the bigger acts were coming through, everything was running mostly smooth. I was recording the full mix via Atomos Ninja 2 just in case, but the performances went pretty well, and by this point I got to enjoy the gig a little more than constantly putting out fires normally allows for.

Jesse Pepin with the lead singer of Everlast at Seattle Hempfest 2013

Jesse Pepin with the lead singer of Everlast at Seattle Hempfest 2013

And of course, you have to take your chance to meet the bigger bands when you can.

All in all, this was an incredibly illuminating experience. I have never set up so much gear for such a large project in such a short time. Doing it again, I would insist upon being brought into the production sooner, and if I ran into the need for component cameras, would insist on the budget for the Analog to SDI converters.

The com system used on site was a bit of a dinosaur as well. Next time, I hope to bring my Studio converter, stretch out a bit of fiber and test the com/tally interface. But this was a good start. Questions? Just comment below!

 

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