This season of Dead Reckoning TV was a bit of a change brought about by two things: the first was moving the studio to another suite in the same building, turning the former into a dedicated set. The second catalyst was the move from my MacPro tower to my HP Zbook. Brian and I also did a little target audience readjusting based on feedback from season 2 which was a big step up content-wise compared to season 1 so we expected some changes.
I won’t get into the platform switch except to say that MacPro was dying and because I was moving back and forth between set and studio once a week, I needed something mobile. At the time, I was readjusting Red Futon Films’ project focus as well so that played a role in the choice of the Zbook.
Figuring out how to do web TV with guests on the budget has been difficult. In season 2, I was Skyping screen capturing via Screenflow from my Macbook Air. Primary audio was being fed from the MBA to the MacPro via the Apollo Duo with the host mic going directly the Apollo. I could control each track independently This season with the Zbook, creating secondary audio records, mix minus’ and sending the full screen to the plasma has proven to be a bit of an issue.
We’re shooting to a single BMD Pocket Cam with a Ziess ZF.2 21mm at F/4 and F/2.8 through a Letus Anamorphx. Lighting is a single daylight balanced 85w through a silk china ball with color matched LED rim lights. The audio is all done via Blue Bluebirds except for the Commentary which is a Sennheiser MKH 8060. All audio is direct to the Focusrite AD/DA (hopefully soon back to the Apollo).
Our solution so far is an app called XSplit. It’ll let me capture the full screen output of the Plasma and monitor what’s actually being recorded at the same time via my laptop screen. I can also monitor my audio mixer for the Focusrite. A perk of taking myself mostly out of the interview segments means I can send Brian’s mic directly to Skype now because I’m not on the show (single vs. multi channel). I have no way of mixing channels independently yet. I plan to attempt to record Brian simultaneously to Audition. XSplit unfortunately doesn’t let me split the audio record or record two independent channels for the call but XSplit by far surpasses other options I’ve tried thus far. There just isn’t anything available that does what I want.
Moving forward, I hoping to make are ditching this Focusrite and bringing the Apollo back into play on the record end because I can use live compression plugins on input like the DBX 160 for better control of our on show antics which can be fairly dynamic. I need to test the thunderbolt option card for the Apollo Duo though since isn’t qualified by Universal Audio on TB-equipped PCs yet. Until then, if I’m not observant (hard during the Spindle where I’m hosting as well) we can clip the audio badly.
I copy all the footage from the camera to a 4TB Thunderbolt G-RAID. I then copy the Audition audio record back to the card, lock the card and use a fresh card for the next segment.
On the post side, I’m using Adobe for everything. Everything comes into Premiere where I replace the audio in the vid files, throw them into the timeline and edit. I’ve built looks already in Speedgrade so that process is drag and drop. I mix the audio in Audition and place the new tracks in the timeline. The sequences get dropped into Media Encoder where I create two output modules: one for the MXF masters and the other for the WAV audio files for the podcast. Then I create a watch folder for the MXF outputs which render to H.264 for the web deliveries. Once all that is done, I’ll typically convert the MXFs to Cineform MOVs because the files are 25-50% smaller and when you’re talking 25-50GB master files, I need to take advantage of that.
So that’s our little WebTV show. If we film early enough in the day, I can have the whole show done by the afternoon and get the renders going on my way out the door at the end of the day. This all Adobe workflow makes things so fast and fluid.