Monitoring for crewmembers on set can be difficult enough, but how about monitoring for the entire studio? And not just any normal studio either! We’re talking Steiner Studios in New York City - the number 1 biggest film & TV production studio outside of Hollywood. The massive 580,000 sq. ft. building is decked out with soundstages, wardrobe rooms, offices, makeup rooms and everything a production could want to create the next blockbuster series. How can people on one side of the building monitor the shot from a camera all the way on the other?
Local 600 DIT Charlie Anderson makes it happen. Working on Season 2 of the Golden Globe award-winning show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which is an amazing show and everyone should get Prime to watch it!), Anderson handles all of the gear and media management on set, and acts as the de-facto repair guy for technical issues.
“I’m in charge of making sure everyone on set has something to look at, whether it’s wired or wireless gear. If something breaks down, they come to me for it,” explained Anderson. “This is a big project for Amazon, and producers want to know how we’re progressing as we’re shooting day-to-day. The problem is, they’re in the offices on the completely opposite end of us. Even walking there takes a good 15 minutes.”
The secret is in the building’s internal WiFi and the Teradek Serv Pro! A new way to monitor on set, the Serv Pro connects to a video output source and uses WiFi to broadcast that feed to up to 10x Android/iOS devices connected to the same WiFi. Its companion app, VUER, displays the video feed, and provides a collection of professional monitoring features that are found on traditional hardware monitors.
How This Works
Steiner Studios contains an extended WiFi network which covers the entire building, allowing anyone in the vicinity to connect. Since the Serv Pro pushes the camera feed to the WiFi network, any phones/tablets connected to the WiFi can pull the feed and display it on the control surface.
Since the entire building operates with one high-powered Internet connection, anyone with an iOS/Android device in the building can load the app and monitor the shot. Of course, the feed is password protected with encryption, so special logins have to be given by Anderson.
- ARRI Alexa ProRes 3.2K
- 2x Paralinx Tomahawk II
- 2x Flanders Scientific CM250 monitors
- 2x SmallHD 1703 P3X video village monitors
- SmallHD 2403 director’s monitor
- SmallHD 703 handheld monitor
- Teradek Serv Pro
- Custom 80/20 DIT cart
The center of Anderson’s workflow is the Inovativ cart, which all parts of the production setup connects to. Tomahawk IIs on set are feeding to the Blackmagic 20x20, which allows Andersen to route the video feeds to wherever he needs. Another Tomahawk II on the cart sends video to the Director’s monitor. Other monitors on set are hardwired.
From his cart, the Serv Pro is taking a feed from the monitor’s output and sending it to the Steiner Studios internal WiFi system. On the other side of the building (office section), producers connect to the same WiFi and pull up the feed in VUER, seeing a near-live feed and watching the progress of the production.
On locations, Anderson sets up his own WiFi network using a wide-range Ubiquiti router. This allows devices from over a block away to monitor the shot.
Monitoring For Everyone
It’s important for producers and other contributing members to monitor the shot, but being on opposite sides of a massive building requires casting a wider net to reach everyone. By adding Serv Pro to the show’s workflow, Anderson creates a way for anyone to monitor from anywhere in the complex, as long as they have access to the feed.
“The producers want to make sure everything’s going according to schedule, but they don’t have the time to be on set all day. Luckily, they’re still in the building, which means I could use the Serv Pro to get that feed over reliably and quickly.”
At the same time, with the Serv Pro connected to the monitor, Anderson is able to stream a post-LUT feed to the producers (LUTs are added from the monitor). Up to 10 people can monitor at the same time, meaning no one has to worry about sharing a monitor or traveling all the way to set. It’s designed to streamline the production process, and allows the entire team to create a series worthy of an Amazon Original.
“As a DIT, I make sure to only invest in industry-leading equipment for my setups that ensure we get the job done. Clients like Amazon expect the best for their shows, so every bit of our production is designed to reflect that,” said Anderson. “Serv Pro gives us an unprecedented way to monitor and is crucial to our workflow.”