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TNDV Puts New Sony And Panasonic 4K/HD Camera Fleet To Work

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TNDV has been putting its new Sony and Panasonic 4K/HD camera fleet to work this summer for high-resolution content acquisition of live and recorded events.

Notably, TNDV captured the annual excitement of Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Excitement near the Coney Island Boardwalk, injecting live coverage of contestants into the live broadcast; and filmed concert performances for all Season 2 episodes of The Caverns Sessions, which airs on PBS stations this fall.

TNDV has been on-location in Coney Island to capture the last five annual Nathan’s contests, which welcomes tens of thousands of spectators annually for women’s and men’s competitions broadcast live on ESPN2 and streamed on the ESPN app. This year, TNDV obtained special permits from the New York City of Transportation to park Exclamation, its 53-foot double expando truck, adjacent to the flagship Nathan’s restaurant at the corner of Surf and Stillwell.

The real difference this year came down to production quality, with TNDV deploying seven Sony 4300L handhelds and two Panasonic AW-UE150 robotic PTZ cameras for this event for the first time. "The color depth of both cameras is incredible, but what impresses us is how seamlessly we can match the two in the field," said Rob Devlin, President, TNDV. "The shading capabilities of the Panasonics are so impressive that the trained professional eye almost can’t see the difference between the PTZ and broadcast cameras. That allows us to deliver the most absolute consistent images from different angles for viewers of the broadcast."

Devlin added that TNDV also made strong use of an EVS media infrastructure for instant playback, including recaps of perennial winning contestant Joey Chestnut; and carefully deployed RF technologies to support audio acquisition and communications. "New York City has a high density of broadcast entities, and it can be very challenging to obtain frequencies for wireless intercom, IFBs and microphones," said Devlin. "We utilized the Clear-Com FreeSpeak system for wireless intercom, and Lectrosonics gear for the sideline reporters and talent, all of which performed exceptionally well in a very crowded RF environment."

JJ Hacker, Senior Engineer with TNDV, used the same blend of camera technologies to capture performances from Peter Rowan, The Kitchen Dwellers, and Iron & Wine among other diverse artists for the second season of The Caverns Sessions, previously known to PBS viewers as Bluegrass Underground for ten seasons. The series is taped deep within the subterranean amphitheater of The Caverns in Tennessee's Cumberland Mountains, with TNDV’s Collaboration parked onsite for video and audio production capabilities.

“The sensors on the PTZ cameras are smaller and typically just on par with the quality of broadcast cameras like the Sony 4300L,” said Hacker. “One challenge we had in the past was matching shades of black, and it was easy for viewers to tell the difference as the PTZ-acquired images simply were not as good. The Panasonic AW-UE150 PTZs solve that problem and along with the exceptional performance of the Sonys, we provided the most consistent and highest quality image reproduction over my six seasons working on this show.”

Hacker and his team set up two AW-UE150 PTZs on monopods, with one typically at stage left and another at stage right to zoom in tight for artist solos, pan the crowd for fan reaction shots. Occasionally, one of the cameras would be relocated to capture performances that a handheld cannot. “We set them up to acquire a reverse drum angle or an upright bass from behind the stage, allowing to get close to the performers and capture the energy coming from the stage.”

Hacker positioned a jib with a tight long lens at front of house, along with two slash cams positioned at stage left and stage right. Three Sony 4300L handhelds were positioned downstage downstage left, center and right to capture instrumental shots, and a SteadiCam was positioned at front of stage for reverse crowd shots. TNDV also used its Soundcraft VI3000 console and ProTools recording systems, along with a MADI audio networking infrastructure, to manage 64 channels of audio coming onto Collaboration.

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