FEED Issue 15

54 THE LIVE LIFE Blue Planet Live

NEP America. As Cowper explains: “Just being able to send a basic crew out to each location rather than sending a whole team to one location – and then still having other remote locations to cover as well – was more attractive to the BBC.” TAKING TO THE AIR An assistant director was present at each of the locations, with each connected to the main director at Ealing and able to cut the various sources down the main circuit. The director in Ealing had up to eight different cameras at the remote location, explains Cowper. “The cameras were combined using a mixer down to one circuit. Not using up too much satellite space for lots and lots of different feeds makes things slightly cheaper.” There were also a lot of live comms with the director and production team in Ealing, discussing shot choices with the assistant directors on site and deciding how much free reign the on-site teams would have in making shot selections. Timeline also provided a second vision feed; a multiview that allowed the team in Ealing to see all of the cameras at a remote location at the same time. One of the workarounds the production team had to get used to was a six-second delay on some of the circuits, because the comms came over the satellite-embedded audio as well. “They had a return vision circuit,” says Cowper, “so they could see our programme output. They also got director talkback on the in-ear pieces on the rest of the audio tracks. But it takes three seconds there and the return is three seconds, so it

takes six seconds before you get a reply or response from when you say the words.” To get around this delay, when coming out of pre-recorded segments, the presenters were cued earlier than they usually would have been, so as to get an almost perfect cue. Otherwise, they would have been waiting around for a response from each other. Although the highly experienced wildlife camera operators were provided by the BBC, it was Timeline that provided all the technical skills and abilities for the radio links, the cameras, as well as the audio. “It’s a bit different to how you do it with pre-recorded programmes like Blue Planet ,” says Cowper. “There, you’ve got time to process the audio and edit it, whereas here it went out live.” With no time to process the audio, the feeds from the mics were sent individually back to London. “That is IS THREE SECONDS, SO IT TAKES SIX SECONDS BEFOREYOUGETAREPLY ORARESPONSE IT TAKES THREE SECONDS THERE AND THE RETURN

SEAL OF APPROVAL Kostis, a critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal, starred in a pre-recorded feature from Blue Planet Live

the benefit of being able to have 16 tracks of audio on an SDI signal” he continues. “There’s no extra cost in that. There was a mix on site as well – a basic mix of effects and the backup audio, but it was mainly mixed in Ealing, on a very large Calrec Apollo sound desk.” CAPTURING SNOT AND MORE Many of the live shots in the show have made for outstanding television, and Cowper recalls the specialist cameras that were used for the remote locations. For example, on Heron Island “a FiftyFifty camera on the Great Barrier Reef could shoot underwater and above water”, says Cowper. “It sat between the waves and you could see both below and above the water at the same time. The camera operator could hear every word the director was saying in his ear, and we could hear every word he said within his full-face mask.” Meanwhile, for Bimini in The Bahamas: “There were three underwater cameras with a live feedback up to a boat and one on the surface,” explains Cowper. “The boat

feedzine feed.zine feedmagazine.tv

Powered by