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Revolutionary File-Based Multicam Workflow for “Life With Boys”

October 1st, 2012

Life with Boys SIM Digital and Bling (a division of SIM Digital) were recently enlisted to develop an innovative workflow for the multicam production of season 2 of Life with Boys. The previous season of the tween series produced by YTV/Corus wanted to move from a tape-based recording environment to a 4 camera studio package that employed a tapeless workflow with the added functionality of an on-set post production solution.

The previous season had seen all studio cameras ISO recorded (to HDCam tape) and delivered to post production for off-site editing. Looking for a more progressive process, the production was eager to implement a workflow system that would increase production efficiency. As an in-house expert on multicam productions, Senior Technician, Dianne Schnuth, had researched Cinedeck RX recording system and recommended integrating the technology to replace the prior tape and deck solutions. Schnuth then collaborated with key in-house engineers to determine the most compatible equipment and necessary configurations required for the camera workflow.

From there, the SIM team began put together a 4x HDC950 studio camera/CCU/pedestal package complete with the Multicam Flightpack system, video/paint operator control & LD Lighting position and two 50” Plasma monitors with an Evertz VIP Multiviewer which would feed to the studio floor. Audio was to be provided by local Toronto Sound Recordist, Steven Bourne, who had worked on the previous season using a digital audio record mixer/cart and pram microphones. To round out the workflow, Schnuth enlisted the help of Dave French, Senior Post Production Technician, to facilitate our Bling on-set post production solutions for the client. French, who has been testing and implementing new systems for a slew of clients this past year, had seen great success with the Avid ISIS and suggested the benefits it could bring to a production that required both a stringent back-up process (for insurance purposes) and immediate access to footage for on-set post production. French also knew the system could be configured with file naming options so that each “digital” file could then be easily identified and found on the ISIS and G-Raid drives to allow their editors to work more quickly.

With the post solution selected the team began to test the workflow. The concept was to take HD SDI outputs from each of the four cameras CCU’s and record into two Cinedeck recorders, to two G-Raid drives while simultaneously recording to the ISIS hard-drive array. This would meet the client’s insurance requirements for backup digital copies without the need to digitize tapes. It also meant the off-line editors could begin to access the footage as soon as the operator stopped recording the feeds on the Cinedecks said Schnuth.

Throughout the workflow design process Schnuth consulted with both the show’s Director of Photography, Bentley Miller, and her colleagues to test the system against various shooting scenarios and resolve any issues prior to delivering the package. The tests all proved successful. The system was delivered and has now been working on Life with Boys since mid-September. The team reports that the workflow has been running seamlessly and the crew, editors and producers have all expressed how impressed they are by the new system SIM provided. With the added efficiencies, the industry is likely to see more multicam shows switching to similar workflows in the future.