Midtown Video Brings New TV Studio to Life for Technology Leader Citrix

Provides concierge-level service, including design, installation, systems integration, and training, on-time and on-budget

Midtown Video worked hand-in-hand with Citrix Technology Specialist Fabien Bourdon to design and build a new 4K-capable TV studio and control room for Citrix Corporation, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

With its innovative mission of empowerment, Citrix powers a better way to work by delivering the experience, security, and choices that people and organizations need to unlock innovation, engage customers, and be productive-anytime, anywhere. The company’s vision is that work is no longer a place, it’s an increasingly dynamic activity that people expect to be as adaptable as they are. Citrix powers digital workspaces that combine freedom and security, whether people are working on-site, on the road, or in the cloud.

The new Citrix Studio is now producing a wide range of e-learning programs, training videos, and other corporate communications. Bourdon anticipates that the studio will produce hundreds of videos annually.

The Right Vendor at the Right Time

“The biggest challenge of this ambitious undertaking was to select the best studio equipment and configuration possible from thousands of options, and interface the systems to operate as a single, seamless workflow,” said Bourdon. “From day one, the Midtown team fully understood how we wanted the studio to work and guided us to those solutions that achieved our goals on-time and on-budget. Their specialized knowledge and technical expertise were invaluable.”

Unlike the previous studio that Citrix used, which was a makeshift facility in a small, converted conference room, the new Citrix Studio and its adjacent control room are dedicated spaces on the second floor of one of the five buildings on the Citrix “Cypress Creek” corporate center campus.

Since this location is only a quarter mile from the Ft. Lauderdale airport, acoustics engineering design played a key role in isolating the studio from the noise and vibrations of this busy hub. During studio construction, which was part of a broader renovation of the entire floor, Midtown Video engineers—including Design Engineer/VP of Operations Fernando Iglesias, Video Systems Engineer Hernan Polo, and Lead Installer Robert Chirino—provided a wide range

of services ranging from design, installation, systems integration, and training. They also worked with the architects at Global Architecture Projects, Inc., and building contractors, such as BluFin Construction, on matters involving air conditioning, in-wall conduits, flooring, soundproofing, outlets and other infrastructure to ensure a highly ergonomic studio environment.

Creative and Operational Flexibility

“To keep our productions visually fresh and dynamic, we wanted the ability to transform the look, color schemes, branding, visual displays and other set design elements on a regular basis,” said Bourdon. “Instead of physical sets, our studio features virtual sets keyed into an 18 x 18-foot green cyclorama, as well as an on-set videowall that can display any 4K imagery.” Midtown Video supervised the design and construction of the cyc, which was brought up via elevator to the second-floor studio in four pieces and then assembled in place.

One corner of the studio also features a small talk show set with three 65-inch 4K LCD monitors mounted vertically on the wall. A Digi-Bird DB-VR C4H video processor helps configure the composition of the imagery across the multi-screen displays.

In the middle of the studio, camera operators can freely move a Sony HXC FB 80 studio camera around the studio on pedestal. The color temperatures, hues and brightness of spotlights, key and fill lights on the overhead grid can be adjusted remotely from the adjacent control room using a DMX-compliant lighting controller.

The control room is separated from the studio by a window consisting of two panes of glass 8-inches apart to dampen noise from that workspace. Inside the control room, an 18-foot custom console (by Whitlock Furniture) supports a NewTek TriCaster TC-1 4K/HD-SDI production switcher, and an Allen & Heath audio mixer.

Midtown Video configured the Citrix Studio from August 2018 through early December 2018, culminating with personalized, hands-on equipment training of key Citrix staff. Throughout the planning stage, which actually began in 2016, Bourdon said that Midtown Video had remained flexible, patient, and involved as the company’s plans changed several times, including the site and layout of the studio.

“While this technology is rapidly changing,” Bourdon said, “We’re enabling virtual training and improving the experience to our students. We’re excited to see where technology is going to take Citrix Education. I feel confident that this studio will serve our needs for years to come due to the hard work, diligence, and painstaking attention to detail that Midtown Video provided.”

About Citrix

Citrix is powering a better way to work with unified workspace, networking, and analytics solutions that help organizations unlock innovation, engage customers, and boost productivity, without sacrificing security. With Citrix, users get a seamless work experience, and IT has a unified platform to secure, manage, and monitor diverse technologies in complex cloud environments. Citrix solutions are in use by more than 400,000 organizations, including 99 percent of the Fortune 100 and 98 percent of the Fortune 500. Learn more at www.citrix.com.

 

Thaler Media, Western Amateur Championship

Thaler Media pulled off historic live coverage of the 2018 WAC with remote IP production and streaming.

While the Western Amateur Championship has taken place annually since 1899, this year marks the first time this storied golf tournament has been covered live. Many golf greats, including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Ben Crenshaw, and Curtis Strange, won the coveted Western Amateur title early in their careers.

Historic Moment

It all changed with the 2018 Western Amateur Championship—held July 30 through August 4, 2018 at the Sunset Ridge Country Club, in Northfield, Il, near Chicago—when Lowell Thaler, president of Thaler Media in North Palm Beach, FL made broadcast history by producing live HD coverage of the event’s “Sweet 16,” quarter-finals, semi-finals and championship matches on Friday, August 3 and Saturday, August 4.

Working closely with his client, the Western Golf Association (WGA), Thaler streamed 12 hours of live coverage to Golf Channel’s digital platforms, including golfchannel.com and their mobile app. The feed was also carried on the WGA’s Facebook page and website, thewesternamateur.com.

“We were able to produce this event very affordably—at perhaps a tenth the cost—compared to the overhead typically associated with a live broadcast-quality HDTV show by leaning heavily on NewTek gear, NDI networking, and LiveU’s transmission system,” Thaler said.

“We managed to shave costs without compromising high-end production standards, such as expert shot composition, picture and sound quality,” Thaler added.

What’s more, Thaler produced the entire show from a studio a time-zone away, in his home town of North Palm Beach, FL, using what can best be described as a remote IP streaming production approach.

“It’s been logistically and financially challenging to send large crews, HD trucks, and/or elaborate fly packs to remote production sites,” Thaler explained, “But this IP streaming production strategy is now a robust, viable alternative.”

Sunset Ridge

The only production personnel that Thaler sent to the Chicago area golf course were Producer Laurie White, Editor Eric Wagnon, four camera operators and a sound mixer. Three of the cameramen moved freely around the golf course, following the players from hole to hole to get the perfect shot.

Since there was no production control facility or mobile video unit on-site to switch and output the program feed, each of the camera operators wore a backpack containing a LiveU LU600 HEVC and LU500 IP-based transmission system. These modems with HEVC HD video relayed their respective camera video and audio signals via an IP pathway to a LiveU LU2000 multi-output server situated at a master control facility 1,300 miles away in South Florida.

Much of the golf action was covered by multiple cameras, and occasionally, cameramen could be seen in the live shot trying to capture it from a different angle, which gave the production a fresh, dynamic look. This was state-of-the-art photography; not the shaky-cams or web-cams all too common on streaming platforms. All of the camera work was done in remarkably steady handheld mode, with excellent shot composition, using high-end Sony F55 cinema-grade cameras.

A small remote talk show set was set-up inside the Sunset Ridge clubhouse. The program’s co-anchors—David Marr III and Scott Walker—sat at the desk to deliver color commentary and game analysis.

A virtual set filled the greenscreens behind them and in front of their desk, making it appear as if they were enmeshed within a virtual studio that was far larger than the actual physical space. This was one of the virtual sets that Thaler had chosen from the NewTek virtual set collection that came with the TC1.

Master Control

The master control facility, which consisted of a two-room suite, can be described as a completely non-traditional, ad hoc broadcast setting. This South Florida site was crewed by nine people, including the producer, director, TD, audio mixer, live graphics and replay teams.

One of the master control rooms served as a main studio where a third anchor, Craig Dolch, sat in front of a green screen to provide additional commentary. A different but complementary NewTek virtual set was keyed into that background to distinguish it from the first. After Dolch concluded his commentary, he would toss it back to the anchor team at the Chicago clubhouse.

The other room at Master Control housed a NewTek TriCaster® TC1 IP production switcher. As a frame-accurate 4K UHD/60p-capable switcher with an all IP architecture, the TC1 is a 16 input, 4-M/E switcher with multi-bus mix/effects, animated titles and transitions, chromakey, built-in video servers, clip players, graphics channels, a virtual set system, and more. The TC1’s virtual set generation and editing capabilities were maximized on this production.

The production control workflow also included a NewTek 3Play® 3P1 replay system, which allowed a replay operator and replay producer to provide SLOMO replays, and playback of aerial footage captured by the camera on a drone flying over the golf course throughout the broadcasts.

A NewTek Live Text CG system running on a laptop provided lower third supers and other on-screen graphics. And a NewTek Live Panel audio mixing control panel was used to combine all of the audio sources—including camera audio and natural/ambient sound—into the final program audio mix.

Remote IP Operations

“Using a simple, streamlined, get-it-done approach, we were able to cover an event that was never covered live before,” said Thaler. “The key was the way we were moving signals between the two sites in real-time, so that the Chicago and Florida production teams could work together seamlessly as if they were both at the same site.”

This included the use of the four Skype channels on the NewTek Talk Show to send our TC1’s program output as a ‘return’ feed to provide essential reference monitoring to the Chicago team. This mix-minus audio feed was then split to each of the anchor’s headsets, essentially serving as an IFB. TalkShow also enabled Skype interviews with guests to be fed back to the TC1 in master control.

The end-to-end LiveU transmission system was critical technology tying the two remote groups together because this was the method for relaying the camera “iso’s” and audio back to special LiveU LU2000 server in the control room.

This Linux server relayed the camera signals via NDI® for video over IP networking to the TC1 switcher where the TriCaster operator could mix these live camera inputs with all the other production elements, including features, such as historical vignettes and player profile clips.

Midtown Video

Lowell Thaler gives a special shout-out to Midtown Video, his Miami-based equipment supplier, systems integrator, and a dependable source of production services and expertise. In addition to providing video and audio production equipment as turnkey solutions, Midtown Video also contributed several NewTek/LiveU-savvy technicians to Thaler’s crew to ensure that the live productions ran smoothly.

“Golf tournaments present logistical challenges to traditional broadcasts because there are essentially miles of wiring and cabling that have to be run to support acquisition,” said Fernando Iglesias, Midtown Video’s VP of Operations. “It wouldn’t be feasible or cost-effective to do these cable runs, or to deploy a high-end HD production truck, for an event like this.”

“But with the LiveU transmission system, the broadcast cameras connect directly to backpacks so that the cameramen can move freely around the golf course without any need for long-distance, labor-intensive fiber runs,” Iglesias explained. “Combined with the NewTek production and NDI networking systems, this IP-based approach is extremely cost-effective compared to traditional HD-SDI broadcast.”

Midtown Video also provided technical support needed to turn one of the LU600 HEVC units into a “data bridge” so that the Chicago crew would have a solid Wi-Fi hot spot on the golf course. This enabled them to have dedicated bandwidth to ensure they could reliably send a Skype program return feed to the Chicago team—a critical transmission connection—and not rely on the venue’s existing Internet bandwidth.

“While it’s true that NewTek and LiveU products are game-changers that are making high-end broadcast production accessible at a much lower price point, it’s still important to have the support of a supplier like Midtown Video that really understands how to implement unique workflows that achieve the production’s creative and technical goals,” said Debby Miller, co-president of Midtown Video.

Paradigm Shift

According to George Klippel, Sales Director, Channels for LiveU, Inc., “Many of the products and technologies that enabled this live streaming production were either not yet available or ready for primetime, just a few years ago. Today, by pairing LiveU and NewTek technology, Thaler Media was able to produce a broadcast quality product as if they were on-site with a full production unit and crew, all while considerably reducing the costs and streamlining the workflow.”

For Lowell Thaler, the success of this remote IP streaming production is a proof of concept for a vision he’s had for a long time. He plans to apply this proven methodology to a wide range of future events that would otherwise never be feasible or cost-effective to produce or broadcast live.

“Our 2018 Western Amateur live stream has proven to skeptics that live shows and events that have never been broadcast before can now be produced and streamed, with high-end broadcast quality, very affordably, reliably, and successfully, and for video producers like me, that opens many doors of opportunity.”

Equipment List:

NewTek TriCaster TC1 multi-camera production system
NDI® for video over IP networking
NewTek 3Play® 3P1 instant replay system
NewTek Talk Show 4000
LiveU LU600 HEVC and LU500; six units in all
LiveU LU2000 server
NewTek virtual sets; green screens
5 Sony F55 cameras
NewTek LivePanel audio mixing control panel
NewTek Live Text CG live graphics system
Drone system for aerials

Six Simple Steps to Live Streaming, June 1, 2017

Midtown Video and LiveU cordially invite you to hands-on demonstrations of today’s best live streaming systems. Explore the cameras, encoders, and streaming devices that work together within your budget. Get acquainted with the service providers to stream from anywhere to anywhere on the planet. Take step one and register for this open house.

When: Thursday, June 1, 2017, 2 – 5 p.m.
Where: Midtown Video, 4824 SW 74 Ct, Miami, FL

RSVP for this Event Now

Kobre & Kim – Teleconferencing Boardrooms

One great aspect of the AV Integration world is that each solution is unique, each client has specific requirements and in many cases, we get to work with them to create, design, install and maintain throughout the life of the system. This in turn challenges our team to think new, form relationships that last, and deliver excellence at each step of the journey. We all need meaning in our work life and to feel like we are helping people. In the case of this international law firm we are providing a bridge to communicate, face to face, around the globe. It’s the next best thing to being there. Check it out.

5 Things You Should Know To Keep Your Gear Secure

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The Production Equipment Rental Group, part of ESTA has developed a highly informative plan to help stop equipment theft. Our organization has spent countless hours researching theft and fraud in the production industry resulting in arrests and returning gear to the owners. Consider joining ESTA/PERG. And, read about the 5 Tips to keep your gear safe.

PERG Meeting and Hamilton in NYC

Wow, since studying broadcast journalism at the University of Miami, working at television stations, production companies, and my own business for more years than I care to admit , I am lucky to be able to say “I love what I do!” I recently represented Midtown Video as a council member of the ESTA/PERG, Production Equipment Rental Group. Our Advisory Council is made up of some of the most sincere, hard-working professionals in the camera and lighting rental industry as well as associate members such as insurance providers and manufacturers.

Panavision hosted our meeting and it was eye-opening to experience the vibe of another rental company. We spent the day working on programs and benefits PERG is providing to the members. You can see the more here- http://www.esta.org/join/membershipbenefits.html.  After the meeting we hosted our third annual Oktoberfest party for PERG and AICP members and guests at a restaurant in the theater district. This joint venture brings together our members and customers in an informal setting where we can share ideas and get to know each other better.

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Of course, a trip to NYC is not complete without a Broadway experience and here’s where my trip continued the WOW factor. We got tickets to the buzzy play Hamilton in advance because I had a connection to the Tony and Grammy award-winning Music Director and Orchestrator, Alex Lacamoire. When he was about fourteen years old, he was the pianist in residence at my parents’ eight week summer camp in Central Florida. He played all the camp songs during campfires, skits, and musicals and accompanied the campers during talent night and other activities. It was a thrill to see him on Broadway! Hamilton blew me away. History well told by rap music, with fly dancers, and revolutionary casting and staging. It is bound for more Tony’s and awards.


Great times in the Big Apple.  Loved every minute.

Midtown Matchup: Battle of the 4K Recorders

There are many 4K recorders on the market, but two recorders/monitors stand out from the rest.

Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+ vs Atomos Shogun

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Both products are great recorders that will help you get the job done. The deciding factor is what that job requires. These recorders have unique functions that set them apart from each other and with both in similar price ranges, picking which one is right for you may be tricky. Let’s take a look.

Aesthetics and Physical Attributes

The first thing you notice when picking up one of these recorders is that beautiful screen that always seems to put a smile on your face. While the Odyssey 7Q+ does have a slightly larger screen at 7.7”, the resolution of the Shogun’s 7.1” screen is 1920×1200 compared to that of the Odyssey 7Q+ which is 1280×800. On a side note, the Odyssey 7Q+’s screen is OLED to give you great looking true blacks.

Even with the Odyssey 7Q+’s bigger size, its weight is almost identical to that of the Shogun. Plus, the Odyssey 7Q+ is almost half the size in depth (thickness) of the Shogun. After some use we also noticed that the Shogun got noticeably hotter than the Odyssey 7Q+, although that might depend on the SSD (solid state drive) you use with the Shogun. The Shogun does draw less power so you can run for longer periods of time without swapping batteries.

The Odyssey 7Q+ makes it easy to quickly find where all your inputs/outputs and buttons are by the labels on the front of the unit. It is clear to see that the Odyssey 7Q+ has a slight advantage when it comes to physical attributes; however, the Shogun does have some tricks up its sleeves in other aspects.

Recording and Encoding

The Shogun is the clear winner when it comes to audio. It comes with a breakout cable for XLR inputs while the Odyssey 7Q+ only has a 3.5mm jack input. Whether you want good reference audio for editing or just don’t have the resources to record audio separately, the Shogun is perfect for those situations.

Both units record to ProRes; however, Avid DNxHD will be available soon on the Shogun. Currently the Odyssey 7Q+ is the only one out of the two able to interpret raw and record it to Cinema DNG, although you have to purchase raw options separately to have that functionality. The Shogun should be able to also record raw by the end of the second quarter of this year. The Odyssey 7Q+ can also record to uncompressed DPX and is the only one able to record true 4K (4096 x 2160) as opposed to just 4K UHD (3840 x 2160).

One of the most notable differences between the recorders is their number of inputs and outputs. The Shogun has an input and output for both SDI and HDMI. The Odyssey 7Q+ however has 2 SDI inputs and 2 SDI outputs with 2 addition SDI connections that are capable of being inputs or outputs. Essentially you could have 4 outputs or 4 inputs (for multi-camera monitoring). The Odyssey 7Q+ also gives you an HDMI input and output. The Odyssey 7Q+ has a MultiStream mode that allows you to have up to 4 cameras  split on its screen with the ability to output to a bigger monitor. Convergent Designs states that there will be a future update to allow you to record 4 HD signals simultaneously or 3 HD signals with live switch right on the recorder.

The Shogun does have one potential advantage with its SDI input. The SDI input is said to be 12G while the Odyssey 7Q+’s inputs are only 3G. With nothing really able to output anything past 6G, the Shogun may be a long term investment should 6G and 12G become popular sometime in the future.

Media

The Odyssey 7Q+ has slots for dual 2.5” SSDs while the Shogun only has one. The one drawback to Odyssey 7Q+’s media capabilities is that it is only rated to work with Convergent Design’s SSDs. The Shogun, on the other hand, is approved to work with multiple SSD manufacturers and even allows for use with HDD and even CFast cards.

Conclusion

Bottom line is that if you have a budget to keep or if simple HD/4K recording is all you are looking for, the Atomos Shogun might be a better buy. If you are working on higher end productions or would like a recorder that you can invest in for the long haul with more features including multiple inputs and outputs, then Odyssey 7Q+ by Convergent Design is what you need. Be aware that Convergent Design also offers 2 other Odyssey 7 models with less features and a smaller price tag.

Both recorders are reliable and will get the job done; it all depends on what you need and your budget.

Odyssey 7 (non-q) now shipping, best on-camera monitor out there!

The Odyssey 7 is finally in stock, which is a stripped-down, more affordable version of the Odyssey 7Q.  At only $1295, this 7.7″ OLED monitor is perhaps the best investment you can make for on-camera monitoring.  It is extremely light, and won’t put much stress on your mounting arms.  It can be powered by Sony L-Series batteries (with an adapter that mounts directly on the back of the unit). You can monitor HDMI or SDI signals, with embedded audio, and also loop the signal out through both HDMI and SDI.  With the purchase of Convergent’s SSD’s, you can even record in anuncompressed codec, or the famous ProRes HQ compressed codecs (10 bit 4:2:2)

Even before you consider recording, this OLED monitor has the most value of any that I have tested in this price range.  The false color viewing options and focus peaking features, coupled with the incredibly accurate 1280×800 resolution make this an extremely effective tool for smaller cameras without proper eye-piece viewfinders.  Even cameras that do provide viewfinders can benefit from an Odyssey on top, allowing the focus puller or camera operator to get the same high quality image without forcing them into a tiny viewing hole.

Looking for a new on-camera monitor?  Or perhaps a ProRes recorder?  Don’t pass this one up.  Come on in to Midtown Video for your hands-on demonstration.

Midtown Video Keeps Carnival Cruise Line a Step Ahead of the Competition


When it comes to the cruise ship industry it is a never ending game of can you top it, each new ship that comes on the scene in Miami’s booming cruise port is sure to feature the latest and greatest in fun, relaxation and recreation.  Such is the case with Carnival Cruise Line’s newest vessel, Carnival Magic, which features the ultimate in outdoor fun and fitness at the innovative SportSquare.
When creating the designs for SportsSquare, Carnival wanted to include a 2×2 video wall for outdoor gaming, but were faced with all of the challenges that come with an outdoor video installation. Carnival Cruise Line awarded the bid to Midtown Video for the custom outdoor enclosure and high brightness video screens.

“Account Executive, Chari Hill and her team were very helpful when it came to reviewing the available options for the equipment on board,” shared James Riccio, Supervisor of AV Media for Carnival Cruise Line, “They delivered a product that fits the area and everyone on board really enjoys it.”

The line’s most extensive outdoor recreation area by far, SportSquare is surrounded by a jogging track and features SkyCourse, the first ropes course at sea, (suspended above deck); an outdoor fitness area, a court for basketball, volleyball, and soccer and Carnival’s first two-level nine-hole miniature golf course.