AJA Technology Powers Live AV Production for CREC School Safety Conference

July 19, 2013

Held by the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), the full-day conference brought community influencers together to address several challenges that schools face in ensuring the safety of students and staff. Highlights included a five-hour multimedia presentation from Safe Havens International Executive Director Michael Dorn, as well as a few words from guest speakers Connecticut Governor Dannel P Malloy, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, State Police Spokesperson Lieutenant J Paul Vance and Newtown First Selectman E Patricia Llodra.

To keep audiences engaged throughout the entire conference, CREC brought Freelance Producer Matt Bradbury on board to deliver high quality AV production. The AV design would require several tools that could feed content from Dorn’s laptop in 1080 HD to two screens on stage, and also capture and distribute live footage of his presentation as he moved through the audience to those screens. Knowing that he’d need a strong team to facilitate such large-scale AV, Bradbury called upon his good friend and Independent Producer Keith Larsen for assistance, in addition to other local freelancers.

“We only had a short time to go over technical details and figure out the most cost-effective technology for the event. AJA gear quickly became the concrete holding our brick wall together,” Bradbury explained. “The ease of use and reliability of the gear were huge factors in the decision. We knew our volunteers would be able to jump on the AJA equipment and just run it. We also knew we could depend on it; it wouldn’t overheat or flake out.”

Having used AJA gear in the past for other CREC events, as well as in other freelance productions, Bradbury tapped an AJA Ki Pro digital video recorder to serve as the master recording deck to feed all audio and video out to the audience. “When approached by CREC with the project, I immediately thought – let’s use the Ki Pro and build the rest of our workflow around it. It would have been a huge challenge to keep the entire show in 1080 HD without it,” he shared.
The workflow centered around gear that included two AJA HA5 HDMI to SDI Mini-Converters, an AJA ROI DVI to SDI Mini-Converter, the AJA Ki Pro, two Canon XF300 camcorders with HDMI outputs, a Panasonic AG-HPX500 camcorder with an HD-SDI output, a laptop with a VGA output as well as a second Mac laptop with DVI-D, a Panasonic AV-HS400A Compact Live Multi-Format SD/HD-SDI Switcher and two large projection screens on either side of the stage.

Bradbury shared, “We had quite a collection of devices – each with its own format and connector requirement. Figuring out how to get all of the tools to communicate was essential to the event’s success, which is where AJA’s Mini-Converters really came in and saved the day.”

Connecting two AJA HA5 Mini-Converters to the Canon camcorders, Bradbury and Larsen were able to convert the HDMI feeds to HD-SDI, which were then routed through the HD switcher into the Ki Pro and then out of the Ki Pro to produce a live HD feed of Dorn’s presentation on the two screens. AJA’s ROI Mini-Converter was leveraged to bring the loops and logos from a Mac Laptop through DVI-D to SDI into the switcher and onto the screens, while the VGA laptop signal was converted through a DVI add-on-board to deliver Dorn’s laptop content through the switcher to each screen.

Bradbury and Larsen arrived on site one day prior to the conference to ensure everything was set up and running properly, and in three hours, they were ready to roll. “I’ve done a lot of live staging events that have required hours and hours of setup, but with the AJA gear, it was simple,” noted Larsen. “We had the chain all set up and once the cameras arrived, we literally plugged the HDMI cable into one side and the HD-SDI cable into the other, and it just worked.”
Leveraging AJA DataCalc, a free iOS app available from the iTunes store, on their iPhones, the team was also able to calculate how much storage they needed for the event in advance. Larsen added, “It’s a nice little freebie to have in your back pocket, because you can make the appropriate format decisions ahead of time. Knowing that we were covered from the get-go calmed us down a little bit the day of the event.”
As CREC continues to promote school safety, the organization is collaborating further with Bradbury to develop video content for its YouTube page, as well as for a broadcast documentary concept. Using a Sony FS700 Super-35mm sensor digital camera connected to an AJA Ki Pro Quad via an HD-SDI port, Bradbury bypassed the FS700’s internal codec to capture and record several on-camera HD interviews with VIP guests in ProRes 444 1080/24P to Solid State Drives (SSD) throughout the event.

The space where the interviews were held was inundated with light from surrounding windows, and several dignitaries arrived early to record their interviews before the team had even finished setup – providing atypical shooting conditions. However, the Ki Pro Quad allowed Bradbury to add a Log RGB LUT to the recorded footage to facilitate a unique, cinematic aesthetic with increased dynamic range that would be essential to the team in the post workflow, which had yet to be determined at that time.

“In a rush to complete interviews on the spot, our camera wasn't properly balanced nor was our lighting set up right for all of the interviews,” he shared. “With Ki Pro Quad, we could apply a Log RGB LUT to the recorded footage, which gave us a dynamic range for color work in post. In the end, we were able to create more visually appealing interviews because of the Ki Pro Quad.”

About AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality and cost-effective digital video interface, conversion, acquisition and desktop solutions supporting the professional broadcast and post- production markets. With headquarters in Grass Valley, California, AJA maintains an extensive sales channel of dealers and systems integrators around the world. For further information visit http://www.aja.com.

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