Technological developments continue to raise audience expectations for modern live event experiences. They make it possible for producers to capture interactive, high resolution video with rich colours, and support 3D projection mapping and augmented reality graphics.
German event provider GAHRENS + BATTERMANN (G+B) specialises in memorable in-person, virtual and hybrid events. They are very aware of those audience expectations, and proactive about staying ahead of them.
Always ready for innovation, the company has been leaning toward UltraHD HDR workflows for some time. Anticipating future demand for this type production, G+B began building mobile 12G-SDI UltraHD HDR control rooms in 2019, but demand has in fact just started to take off in recent months as in-person and hybrid events have resumed, alongside continued demand for virtual events.
In autumn of 2021, G+B deployed a mobile control room to live stream a press conference from the IAA Exhibition in Munich, Germany – complete with key/fill overlays for lower thirds – for a well-known German automotive brand. The project required a dedicated workflow including a switcher and playback system, plus signal distribution to six large LED screens on the client’s exhibition booth. Considering the nature of the project, the audio and video demands, and the space restrictions, G+B had to be able to rely on their equipment in the mobile control room to manage the job.
Pre-wired control racks, a professional production switcher and high grade cameras run as standard in each unit. High-quality conversion and signal distribution, analysis and recording gear are central to the design. “No project is the same, but conversion is always part of the workflow blueprint,” said G+B Broadcast Specialist Daniela Böhmer.
UltraHD HDR – a Future Standard?
“This is especially true when working with various HDR standards and camera formats, which is why AJA FS-HDR has been an invaluable part of our mobile fleet. It makes cross conversions and associated LUT processing more straightforward. The entire FS line is useful in that it gives you flexibility. Whether we are de-/embedding audio or converting video, we can achieve many different signals and formats in different ways.”
The AJA FS-HDR and HDR Image Analyzer installed in one of G+B's mobile 12G-SDI UltraHD HDR control rooms.
G+B also uses FS-HDR to up/down/cross convert four channels of 2K/HD across projects and support 4K 12G-SDI productions for customers who require it. Daniela said, “UltraHD HDR live event production is still nascent, and many of the productions we work on are achieved in HD and SDR. However, every year, advanced formats gain more traction, especially as the industry begins to see their potential.
“In time, as the cost of equipment comes down and implementation becomes more practical, we anticipate that UltraHD HDR will become an industry standard, and having already worked with it, we’re in a good position for this future reality.”
G+B also uses several of the AJA Mini-Converters in its mobile control room to support unexpected conversion tasks that arise, such as a client requesting a change requiring audio-embedding, or a key/fill feed for lower-thirds that needs HDMI to SDI signal conversion. “We have to be prepared to address last minute client requests, which is why we built the control rooms to support a variety of signal types and formats,” Daniela said. “AJA gear has been helpful in this respect. Using it to handle high-performance, reliable conversion means we can adapt to changes and still keep costs down.”
For image analysis, each mobile control room also includes an AJA HDR Image Analyzer, which the production team uses to view all the important data of the attached video signal in a structured way. When camera matching, the team can switch directly between different settings and views of the waveform representation to get the best possible picture out of the camera.
Several of G+B’s control room tools support 12G-SDI connectivity, which helps the team transmit UltraHD signals over a single cable. Daniela said, “Most projects last anywhere from 3-14 days, without any existing infrastructure for signal transmission, which means quad split SDI technology is just not practical. It would mean four times the cables, more complex troubleshooting, and potential differences in runtime between the individual cables. The single-cable simplicity of 12G-SDI is just easier and more reliable for what we do, so AJA’s line-up of 12G-SDI kit is valuable for us.” www.aja.com