Superstar concerts today are high-tech events, with a visual feast of video, lights, sound and even pyrotechnics, and all that has to be recorded for posterity. AJA’s Ki Pro GO helps!
Pink Floyd in Europe and Jefferson Airplane in North America are two of the super groups associated with liquid light shows, a form of light art from the 1960s, associated with progressive music. Those light art experiences used to convey the mood of the music being played where created with slide projectors which had their dichroic heat filters removed and employed two layers of slide cover glasses with two liquids (oil and water based, in the early days, coloured water based dyes later) that would move and expand under the heat of the projector lamp, to create the colorful shapes projected over the band and the stage or simply the background. That was special effects then!
Although the aim is to captivate audiences, things are very different today, and video is used not just for capturing the show but also to make it more exciting. When Post Malone hit the tour circuit this fall with “Runway,” the show brought audiences a visual feast of video, lights, sound, lasers, smoke and pyrotechnics alongside the artist’s genre-bending music. Video and lighting rental company PRG-VER is providing its equipment and services for the tour, which has already stopped in 37 cities across North America and was recently extended for a longer run starting in February 2020.
Live video overlaid with real time effects
All of the performances take place on an elaborate set flanked by two 50-foot tall portrait LED screens that frame a large runway. With help from the show’s video team, Video Engineer Jason Harvey and Video Director Zac Leonard serve up live video overlaid with real time effects to audiences via the displays as Post Malone performs. Each concert is recorded using AJA Ki Pro GO and an assortment of other AJA gear.
Eight cameras capture multiple views of the stage. Footage is input into Disguise D3 media servers where custom-made “Notch” effects are rendered onto the live video for playout on the LED screens. Two AJA Ki Pro Rack recording units are used for mastering and two AJA FS2 frame synchronizers/converters support color correction on the tour’s robotic cameras. A range of AJA FiDO fiber optic converters and distribution amplifiers are used to bring the of all of the video and visual effects together, while AJA’s Ki Pro GO multichannel HD H.264 recorder unifies the workflow, supporting simultaneous capture of up to four camera feeds. “AJA provides us with all of the options we could possibly need for live production and their gear has performed solidly for every rehearsal and show,” Harvey shares. “It’s bullet proof.”
H.264, an ideal format for the show
To ensure a view of the entire stage for each recording, AJA Ki Pro GO captures four outputs, including a Sony camera for wide shots, a dolly cam, the D3 VFX output, and the clean program feed. Footage is recorded to four x 256gb USB sticks and used to instantly create an H.264 proxy off of a master. A fifth 2TB SSD USB drive attached to the back side of the unit allows the production crew to immediately back up all four source inputs onto one drivethat is then uploaded to the cloud and shared with the show’s creative and design teams. The teams can then review the show, test new looks and implement them from anywhere in the world.
“With all of the show’s smoke and pyrotechnics, we need a high-quality file or else the effects will break up when encoded, so H.264 is an ideal format for us. It provides the resolution we need in an extremely manageable file size,” Harvey explains. “Ki Pro GO allows us to create an H.264 master of the whole show that we can easily upload to the cloud, so that the creative and design teams can review and quickly alter effects and integrate those changes ahead of the next tour stop.”
A game changer: AJA Ki Pro GO
“Ki Pro GO has been a game changer for us in terms of ISO record capabilities and storage management,” Leonard adds. “Normally with ProRes files, even LT, our show was 70-85gb a drive, and even transitioning to SSD’s for storage still took a while to dump. Being able to record video in H.264 and use those files in-house to view footage on the fly has been monumental for our workflow.”
He concludes, “Recording a PGM cut, a wide shot of a show, and a couple of camera ISO’s to review with operators about their shots, and having that footage offloaded from one drive in about 5 minutes has also been incredible.”
Ki Pro GO is a portable multi-channel H.264 recorder offering up to 4-channels of simultaneous HD and SD recording to off the shelf USB drives with redundant recording capabilities. Designed to be either portable or rack mountable with half rack wide, 2RU high dimensions, Ki Pro GO is well suited for use in any environment.