The Challenge of Remote Productions

by May 29, 2020Work

The Challenge of Remote Productions

Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing technology and equipment. From my time working as a Creative at Apple and always getting to work with the latest computer systems, to my time at RED Digital Cinema where I was widely networked with manufacturers of the most cutting-edge camera systems, lenses, lights, drones, and more, I’ve always found myself in the middle of high-end equipment. I have thrive on continuing to learn and evolve my knowledge with these highly technical and advanced products and because of that have developed a standard by which I aim to have all of my work adhere to.

After working with or being around cameras like the RED MONSTRO 8K, the RED HELIUM 8K, various Arri Cinema cameras, Canon cameras, and more, I can now add a new model of camera to my list of kit that I’ve produced a high-end video with…. The MacBook Pro iSight Webcam.

I know what you might be thinking… After working with these common cinema cameras, how did you manage to wrap your head around the complexities of shooting with the MacBook Pro iSight?! It was tough, but luckily we persisted, although there may have been a slight sacrifice to image quality in our pursuit of remote production capabilities.

All kidding aside, the current events of the world in relation to COVID-19 and the various lockdown rules HAVE in fact made the production of new content quite a challenge for a lot of companies. It is vital to continue interacting with your customers and putting out information while everyone is at home but the ability to professionally light and film something is largely unavailable due to these restrictions.

Because of that, my client CAIS Group and I have had to think outside the box in order to continue producing content. They recently had an announcement that was going out in a press release about a new partnership with another company and we had the goal of filming an interview between each of their CEOs while they discussed this new partnership and what it meant for their customers and the industry.

My first step was to figure out how we could record them WITHOUT the chat software. They were planning to use Zoom and although Zoom has a built-in recording function, the results are atrocious as you can only get a highly-compressed SD feed from it.

I looked in to all kinds of options but worked the best was just having the participants open Quicktime on their Macs (yes, sorry, this is a Mac-Only solution) and start a New Movie Recording (File>New Movie Recording…). In this mode, the computer can record a higher quality feed straight from the webcam AND Zoom can still run the video chat as normal.

To the participants, they just feel like they’re on a Zoom call, but in the background I’m capturing a decent looking image from their computer’s webcam for some multi-cam editing later on. In this scenario (and I would HIGHLY recommend this), we had a third party that was with each CEO use an iPhone to record a supplementary offset angle so that I could more easily hide any cuts in the video.

This method does require that someone present with the on-screen talent, or the talent themselves, manually start, stop, save, and upload the recordings, but it DOES at least allow us to get something usable. In these modern times, most people should understand the limitations we’re working within and I doubt anyone will judge the quality of the video too harshly.

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