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Near-live production with Softron’s Multicam Logger by Alastair Owen, CTO Post- Production at edelbytes B erlin-based edelbytes works with German broadcasters for channels such as ZDFkultur, and 3sat to deliver coverage of live events – music concerts, arts shows with a live audience, comedy and cabaret. But it’s coverage with a twist. Side- stepping the big-budget satellite van template for live event broadcasting, edelbytes offers its clients the cost- effective alternative of live internet streaming, backed up by a full HD edited version made available for broadcast within hours. This model appeals to the broadcasters not only because it means they can extend their coverage of live events without significantly expanding their budget, but also because the streaming live coverage establishes an intimate link with net-savvy viewers – all part of the broadcasters’ strategy for audience development. But it’s a tall order to deliver a fully edited, color-corrected, HD package with graphics and captions ready to air within hours of the event, using a stripped down, minimal approach. And doing it would be impossible without Softron’s Multicam Logger, a software tool that dramatically streamlines the process of putting a multi-camera edit together. Here’s how we run our workflow for near-live productions. During the show, the HD images are recorded to 70 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 85 JANUARY 2014 storage cards on the camera, while simultaneously down converted SD footage is relayed from the cameras via cost-effective RF Link. The edelbytes crew manages the SD signal and conditions it for immediate streaming. This often involves a real- time de-noising process that ensures the signal is clean and encoding efficiently for the streaming SD version. a crew something like sixteen hours. Sixteen hours for most productions is not a big deal, but it is for us, and the Softron software saves us almost all of that time, typically taking just a couple of minutes to do the job while we get on with something else. This critical saving makes possible the kind of quickfire delivery edelbytes specialises in. As the event is unfolding, we are running Multicam Logger on a MacBook laptop connected to the vision mixer/switcher via Softron’s GPI Commander hardware interface. Every switching decision is automatically logged by Multicam Logger as it happens, creating a complete record of every camera selection throughout the event. We chose Multicam Logger as the most efficient and valuable solution not only because it virtually eliminates a time-consuming edit task, but because it offers the best and smoothest integration with Final Cut Pro. As soon as the live event is over the camera operators deliver the storage cards with the HD footage to the edelbytes crew, and with the near-live production clock now ticking loudly, the footage transfer begins. Meanwhile Multicam Logger fires up Final Cut Pro and completely automates the creation of a multi-camera clip, linked to the incoming media files. With the transfer of footage from storage card to disk typically taking twenty-five minutes or less, the crew can be ready to edit within half an hour of the show curtain. It’s the contribution made by Multicam Logger that really makes a crucial difference in the schedule in this kind of production, where minutes and seconds saved are vital. In the kind of music shows we often do there can be around a thousand edits, and to construct a multicam clip for that without Multicam Logger would take The speed record for edelbytes is four hours – from the end of the event to the delivery of a ready-to-air program for screening the following day. But such extremely quick time- to-air is not always called for: we also work on co-productions between German and French broadcasters such as Arte Lounge, where a shared ‘committee’ approach to the editing process means there are days rather than hours between the event and the broadcast. Even so, every minute counts for us because we need to deliver the program to the editing committee as soon as possible after the event, so that they can start making their decisions with us, using a web review process. Given the elaborate nature of this arrangement and the slower pace a large editorial group takes, the precious hours saved by using Multicam Logger are vital.