The Big Screen is Part of the Big Picture
ToolsOnAir's Broadcast Suite Helps Blink TV Maintain their Cutting Edge
London, UK, June 2010....
One of the most well-worn business clichés states that the key to success is to "find a need and fill it." For London-based Blink TV, that philosophy has been anything but a cliché.
The company opened their doors in the late 1990s as an equipment provider of LED screens for concerts, sports and other large-scale outdoor events. Since then, Blink TV has evolved into a leading creative content production company, providing a full range of video-based solutions for live events. From animated and graphic content for live performance, to multi-camera capture for broadcast and DVD, Blink TV caters to a global who's who of artists, sport and industry.
As Blink TV's Head of Production Tom Colbourne explains, the company has always made it a priority to go the extra mile and exceed clients' expectations. "We noted early on that while our clients knew they wanted to incorporate large-scale video into their productions, in many cases there was an opportunity to help them refine their vision by providing content," Colbourne says. "It made perfect sense for us to offer that content, by way of helping to design and create graphics and visuals for the show."
Another logical avenue for expansion for Blink TV was to offer multi-camera video shoots of live events. From concert footage to sporting events, Colbourne points out that bringing live video into the mix was a no-brainer. "We have our people and our technology in place at more than 500 shows a year, and there are so many opportunities for our clients to exploit that." Blink TV provides live satellite hookups for cinema and web streaming, as well as editing and producing live concert footage for DVD release.
One of the biggest challenges, Colbourne explains, has been finding the right tools that can keep up with Blink TV's fast-paced, high pressure environment. With a Mac based workflow from concept through delivery, Blink has made extensive use of ToolsOnAir's just: Broadcast Suite of applications to streamline the process, using just:in for multi-stream video capture and on-the-fly editing, just:live for instant playback manipulation, and just:play for timeline-based scheduling of content playout.
"While we do use traditional broadcast OB trucks and hardware for larger productions, they're expensive, require a big crew, and tie you to a proprietary system," says Colbourne. "Recently we've seen the introduction of a few software based solutions, but most of them are running on PC servers, which we found to be clunky and less than stable, and which necessitated our constantly converting media.
"What excited us about ToolsOnAir is the way it interfaces with all facets of our live work. Whether it's working with multiple live camera feeds, editing and playing out of instant replays to screen, or placing graphics on screen, ToolsOnAir's Broadcast Suite is ideally suited for the work we do."
One of Blink TV's fortes is in creating visual content to enhance live performances and sporting events, from atmospheric graphics and video to targeted pre- and post-show advertising. Live playout of program material is facilitated using just:play to drop files on a timeline, and overlay multiple graphics layers. "Program content is custom created for each show, tailored specifically to the requirements of the artist and audience," says Colbourne. "Blink was one of the first companies to adapt big screen content specifically for live music performance. We understand the creative objectives and production dynamics because it's where we operate every day."
Colbourne continues, "When we started out more than ten years ago, large screens were mainly being used just for live camera relay - people weren't making full use of them. Now, whether it's a sporting event or a concert, these screens are literally running non-stop from the moment the doors open until the venue is cleared. Using just:play enables us to automate that content playback with a degree of control we'd otherwise not have."
(Capital Summer Time Ball, Wembley)
In fact, says Colbourne, Blink recently completed a major show at Wembley Stadium that featured multiple artist performances. "The show ran from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM with four minute changeovers between sets. We provided video content during set changes, as well as visuals behind the artists. It was literally seven hours of non-stop video content. just:play was essential to our ability to meet that demand."
For live sporting events, Blink TV crew provide multi-camera coverage using just:in to capture multiple live HD feeds, editing highlights and instant replay footage while files are still being captured. "We can edit on-site using Final Cut, and just upload the content as QuickTime files," says Colbourne. Clips are then inserted into just:live for instant playout on the large screens. Real-time RSS feed or other information is overlaid as tickers or lower third graphics.
"We also edit a highlights package during the first half," he adds. "We pick out the action clips as it's recording, trim them and upload them for playback during halftime. Meanwhile, we can create clips for their websites, which can be uploaded during or right after the game."
For Blink TV, what began as a good idea has grown to become a powerful and impactful means of communicating with their audience, from focused content and advertising to live capture and dissemination. In the time-intensive world of live event production, Blink TV depends on ToolsOnAir's just: Broadcast Suite to help maintain an edge over the competition.
ToolsOnAir provides powerful, intuitive QuickTime-based applications designed to create a professional, fully functional broadcast production facility using Mac OS X and low-cost, off-the-shelf hardware components. The ToolsOnAir just: suite is designed with live broadcast production in mind, integrating video, audio and graphics, along with automation, asset management and multiple format capabilities. Full QuickTime and Final Cut compatibility eliminates time-intensive file conversion, and a powerful, intuitive GUI streamlines the workflow from ingest to playout.