The amazing "Lopez Tonight" set and Sweetwater facility

by John Ankwicz - Executive Vice President Telepictures Productions

Our challenge was to build a facility that was at least the equal of the other long established late night talk shows, while balancing economic realities. We had to design a streamlined workflow that could handle the demands of a nightly day and date show. It was paramount in our minds not to over build or over design. This is the 3rd HD def facility that we have built. We took what we learned building the TMZ and the Ellen facilities and designed an efficient and reliable HD facility to support our unique production needs.

A bonus for us has been our ability to work with Chuck Dages – EVP of Warner Brothers Emerging Technology. Chuck and his team are on the leading edge of all current technologies and industry trends. Their expertise and resources were extremely valuable in helping us make the best equipment and workflow choices.

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Sweetwater Digital Productions' Control Room at work

by Robert Wilson

Sweetwater Digital Productions, a well-established leader in partnered production facilities and mobile production units, teamed with Telepictures to deliver the new premiere standard for stage installations industry-wide. By starting with their unique portable production trailer design, and crafting it to the specifications of Tele-Pictures’ John Ankwicz, Sweetwater was able to deliver a functional, budget-conscious – and stunning – production and control room facility.

In July 2009, Sweetwater set out to create a complete production facility out of two custom 60’ x 40’ trailers provided by Telepictures – one to serve as control for the production of Lopez Tonight, the other to be used as a post facility.

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"Lopez Tonight" is carefully watched to make sure everything is right.

by Jason Schroeder – Telepictures’ Engineer

Lopez Tonight was a unique challenge for Telepictures. Post-Production systems as a whole, industry wide, are becoming more complex – and because of this – more expensive. The single most prohibitive factor to any project is cost, but HD television in Los Angeles sometimes comes up against a production paradox: How do you meet the bottom line and provide your team with the tools necessary to start the first season of a new HD production off properly? How do you launch a brand new show in this decade without breaking the bank?

In our case, we had committed both to XDCAM as our primary master recording format. We went with their new product, the Avid MultiStream, to gang-roll our production feeds into the centralized ISIS storage. Avid ISOSync allows us to treat both AMS machines as one 8 channel unit, and provides our operator with a simple interface to record with. In addition, the AMS system records in 50 megabit XDCAM, so the media generated on both sides of the workflow were identical in format.

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An editor puts the final touches on "Lopez Tonight"

by William Conrad

Telepictures Productions, the producers of TBS’ Lopez Tonight, needed a reliable workflow and collaborative environment that would support the production demands of a nationally syndicated program, and ultimately selected four Avid Media Composer Nitris DX systems for video editing, Avid AirSpeed Multi Stream ingest and playout servers, an Interplay production asset management system, Interplay Assist and Interplay Access systems, all connected to an Avid Unity ISIS (32 TB) shared storage system.

Avid worked closely with Lopez Tonight from initial engagement through implementation and ongoing support to create a workflow that met their stringent demands of post production.

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December 9th, 2009 | Tags: , ,

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November 20th, 2009 | Tags: , , , ,

The Sony PME-EX3 Camcorder.

The Sony PME-EX3 Camcorder.

by Robert Primes, ASC

During the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of demonstrating or speaking about 3 different cameras from 3 different companies, Canon’s 5D Mark II, Panasonic’s Varicam 3700 and Sony’s EX-1/EX-3. I happen to love all three cameras so I felt no conflict of interest. But I’m impressed that all three of these major companies trusted me to present their cameras and allowed me to remain an objective voice speaking from my real world experience.

I believe this ecumenical spirit comes from the many years competing vendors of cinematography products shared a stage speaking to the American Society of Cinematographers as educators rather than rivals. There is something noble about the way competing cinematographers share their secrets and wish each other success. Miraculously, the higher purpose of advancing the art form seems to supersede individual ambition. The manufacturers seem to have caught the same bug. Hallelujah! But I’ve been asked to write this article about the EXes. So here goes.

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Marc Levin, James Adolphus, and Forest Whitaker sit for an interview in the Mayor's office.

by Tom Davidson

A documentary that premiered recently on The Sundance Channel was shot entirely with Sony XDCAM EX series cameras (the PMW-EX1 and PMW-EX3). Brick City, the nickname for Newark, N.J., is about the fight by Mayor Cory Booker and other city leaders against gang wars, corruption and poverty. In the five one-hour episodes, Booker and Police Director Garry McCarthy work with “Jayda”, a Blood gang member turned youth mentor, who lives with her Crip boyfriend “Creep.”

The movie was executive-produced by Oscar®-winning actor and producer Forest Whitaker. Filmmakers Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin and their director of photography James Adolphus chose the EX cameras for their size, image quality and HD resolution, as well as the use of ExpressCard-based SxS PRO™ recording media, which presented the team with the perfect solution in the field.

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November 20th, 2009 | Tags: , , ,

Ki Pro Portable Disc Recorder from AJA Video.

Ki Pro Portable Disc Recorder from AJA Video.

by Leslie Parks

Everyone know, from broadcasters to indie filmmakers, how daunting the possible choices for image acquisition can be. Various cameras, formats, recording media and compression schemes can be confusing even to veteran video pros, leading many of them to ask, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to simplify acquisition so that virtually any camera could record the same format and resolution?”

First introduced at NAB 2009, the Ki Pro portable disc recorder from AJA Video may just be the answer, attracting a lot of attention among HD professionals and winning five major industry awards, as well as endorsements from camera manufacturers including Arri, Canon, JVC and RED. AJA also conducted a 24-city global tour in support of Ki Pro’s launch this past summer, which kicked off in Paris in May, and traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, ending in Sao Paulo in July.

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Lee Lusby’s E.T. 3D Rig Time Lapse video from Keslow Camera on Vimeo.

by B. Sean Fairburn, SOC

I had the chance to get trained on the new series of 3D Rigs from Element Technica intended for sale in the exploding 3D market. They manufacture three sizes. “QUASAR,” the largest, for full size Sony F23-F35, 1500, F900R or the Red One, and Phantom cameras equipped with prime or zoom lenses. The mid-sized rig, “PROTON,” mounts box-style Scarlet, Epic and the SI-2K. The small rig, “NEUTRON,” is for the tiny 2/3” or 1/3” imager cameras sporting C-mount lenses such as the SI-2K MINI, Iconix and Cunima. All three incorporate a lightweight rugged frame with user ease of operation.

The Technica 3D rigs are now available for purchase or they can be rented from Keslow in LA, OffHollywood in NYC, and Panavision UK. The companies provide the opportunity to rent fully functional 3D Rigs to Shoot live action 3D projects.

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Claire Danes (in overalls), Ivan Strasburg, BSC (far right) and Steve Shearer (center) prepare to shoot a scene.

Claire Danes (in overalls), Ivan Strasburg, BSC (far right) and Steve Shearer (center) prepare to shoot a scene.

by Bob Fisher

Temple Grandin is the story of a real-life heroine by the same name who has made a difference in the world. Born in Boston, she was diagnosed as brain damaged at 2 years old, but it turned out she was autistic. Grandin didn’t speak until she was 4 years old. She was subsequently mercilessly teased by her middle and high school classmates who thought that she was retarded. Grandin went on to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles, earning a doctorate degree, and becoming a professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

The HBO movie tracks Grandin, played by Claire Danes, from the age of 15 through her early 60s. The project was a collaboration between cinematographer Ivan Strasburg, BSC and director Mick Jackson. Originally planning to only shoot flashbacks in Super 16, the two decided to use it to capture the entire film and then transfer to HD.

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