As founder of video production company Zeros in One, which provides camera and engineering expertise for live concerts and other large-scale events, Jason Harvey understands the importance of reliable kit. In the rock-and-roll business for more than 25 years, he’s collaborated with megastars like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson, Bon Jovi, and Paul McCartney, among others. From the beginning, AJA gear has played a key role in nearly every one of his tour workflows, and his arsenal continues to grow as industry needs evolve. Most recently, he added AJA’s new Dante AV 4K-T encoders and Dante AV 4K-R decoders into the mix for a concert tour.
An early adopter of the technology, Harvey shared, “Dante AV 4K-T and 4K-R are very well suited for live music productions. We’re still putting them through the paces and haven’t fully unleashed their potential, but what we’ve uncovered so far is amazing. They’re going to make a lot of people’s lives much easier, especially as more venues install IP networks.”
On his current project, Harvey oversees a twelve-camera setup – four manned and eight robot cameras, which capture footage for in-venue display and each show is recorded. Footage is captured in 1080 60p using 3G, totaling about .5TB per camera each night (6TB a show). The raw output goes into media servers, where the concert feed is color corrected and filters are applied; that signal is then fed to LED video screens. Three AJA Ki Pro Ultras handle primary show ProRes recording, with Ki Pro GO doing backup recording to H.264. Ten AJA FiDO fiber optic converters are built into the tour’s rack to run front-of-house optic, while AJA Dante AV 4K-T encoders and AJA Dante AV 4K-R decoders allow Harvey to transmit and receive Dante AV Ultra signals up to 4K/UltraHD, with 12G-SDI and HDMI 2.0 inputs or outputs over standard 1GigE IP networks. Across projects, Harvey also leverages AJA FS-HDR and AJA FS2 frame syncs.
“The new Dante AV gear has worked flawlessly thus far and we’re just getting started. We’ve already beaten it up in racks with air temps over 40C. We were all melting but the gear withstood the heat,” noted Harvey. “Our FS-HDR is also great because I can input many channels and don’t have to lock in the equipment settings. I can call up the GUI in my web browser and make changes. Some shows start earlier or later so it may be sunny or dark, so I’ll need to adjust color settings accordingly. AJA’s FS frame sync range is lovely and really easy to work with; I like to mix and match the FS2s and FS-HDRs.”
Post-show, AJA PAK Media solid state drives (SSDs) help simplify data wrangling, allowing Harvey to shift media quickly. He explained, “Unlike film shoots, which have shorter takes and fewer cameras, recording live concerts entails hours-long single takes on as many as 20 cameras. That generates so much data, and I need to be able to shift through it all. With a few PAKs, Thunderbolt 3 PAK docks, two MacBook Pros, and two G-RAID 2 24TB drives, I can move many terabytes of data in a few hours from my hotel room.”
Every tour stop is different and unpredictable, from the location and venue to the weather and the pyrotechnics. To this end, Harvey must be prepared to manage anything that each high stakes live production environment throws his way. He must have multiple backup plans in place to ensure the show can go on rain or shine. The massive set takes five days to build, so load in and out are executed with military precision, and the show has two stages, which allows the team to leapfrog setups and shorten the duration between shows. As soon as the performance is finished, load out is done in reverse order and the crew is on to the next stop.
Harvey concluded, “Technology is changing all the time, so it’s nearly impossible to keep pace. That said, I always keep an ear to the ground, because you never know what you’re going to be asked to do next, and AJA gear has been my go-to for nearly 20 years. It’s easy-to-use and bulletproof, even on the road, plus the AJA team listens to their customer and develops gear based on that input. I just love AJA products and keep coming back for more.”
About AJA Dante 4K-T and 4K-R
AJA Dante AV 4K-T and Dante AV 4K-R utilize the new Dante AV Ultra solution that enables networked video to be used alongside the industry leading Dante audio-over-IP platform on standard 1 GigE IP networks. Both devices support Dante AV Ultra signals up to 4K/UltraHD, with 12G-SDI and HDMI 2.0 inputs or outputs. Dante AV provides ease-of-use, seamless multi-vendor interoperability, and an integrated control experience that customers have come to expect from AJA Video and Dante by Audinate. www.aja.com/dante-av-ultra
About AJA Video Systems
Since 1993, AJA Video Systems has been a leading manufacturer of video interface technologies, converters, digital video recording solutions and professional cameras, bringing high quality, cost effective products to the professional broadcast, video and post production markets. AJA products are designed and manufactured at our facilities in Grass Valley, California, and sold through an extensive sales channel of resellers and systems integrators around the world. For further information, please see our website at www.aja.com.
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