Production and post-production
technology specialist creates an innovative, file-based workflow for new
multi-camera sitcom.

Los Angeles—SIM Digital recently provided production
and post-production equipment, services and support for the debut season of Spun Out, a new multi-camera sit-com
from CTV and Project 10 Productions. SIM designed and built a complete
file-based workflow for the show that extended from the cameras through final
delivery and included such innovative features as real-time delivery of
full-resolution camera media from the set to the editorial team.

Shot before a live audience at Pinewood Studios in Toronto, Spun Out stars Dave Foley (Newsradio, Kids in the Hall) as the head of a public relations agency. Jeff Biederman (Life with Derek) and Brent Piaskoski (According to Jim) are co-creators, writers and executive producers; Brian K. Roberts (Everybody
Loves Raymond
) is co-creator, executive producer and director; Andrew Barnsley
is executive producer. The show is slated
to premiere on CTV this winter.
Spun Out is CTV’s
first live multi-camera show to be produced with a complete file-based
workflow. SIM Digital designed a multi-camera system consisting of four Sony
F900R cameras that fed a pair of Cinedeck digital disk recorders housed in a
custom-built flight pack that became the show’s master control room. Camera
media captured by the Cinedecks was recorded in real-time to Avid ISIS shared
storage system employed by the show’s editorial team (located in a cutting room
adjacent to the control room) and to G-Raid drives for back-up.
Editorial media was recorded as Avid native, DNX-175X files, providing editors with access to
full-resolution camera media literally moments after it was captured on stage.
“The advantage of this workflow is that we don’t need to copy camera media.
There’s no transcoding, no format conversion,” explains Dave French, SIM
Digital Director of Post Production Engineering. “As soon as it’s shot,
editorial has access to it and can begin cutting.”
A third Cinedeck recorder was employed to produce show
dailies. Feeds from the four cameras were recorded in quad-split display and
made accessible to the production team as iPad-compatible files through a
web-based dailies application service. “The director and producers could view
their dailies almost as soon as the shoot day was over,” French says.
The efficiency of the show’s workflow was further enhanced
by several innovative steps applied in production. During initial camera tests
and the pilot episode, Video Coordinator James Clarke developed in-camera
“looks” for the show’s various sets. Those looks were reapplied (with minor
adjustments) during the production of the subsequent episodes, allowing them to
be posted “as shot” with minimal additional color correction. Additionally,
Clarke, with the aid of SIM’s engineering team, replaced the standard cabling
used with the Sony cameras, with lightweight fiber cables and replaced the
standard camera controls with Copperhead 3200 fiber optic camera transceivers.
“This newer technology made it quick and easy to reposition
the four studio cameras between sets during the taping of the live show,”
Clarke explains.
The workflow was fast, efficient and resulted in significant
cost savings by eliminating the need to copy and transcode camera media. “It
was a complex workflow with tons of cable and equipment,” notes Project 10
Producer Colin Brunton, “but the whole production went very smoothly with
barely a glitch. The SIM team was very dedicated and passionate about making it
work.”
Having an instantaneous link between production and
editorial also had creative benefits. “It was fantastic,” says Assistant Editor
Cory Augustyn. “If the director wanted to review a shot, we could add it to a
scene and send it right back.”
SIM affiliate PS Production Services provided lighting and
grip equipment for the show, including specialized sound booms called “prams”
used to rapidly move microphones over the performing talent without obstructing
the view of the studio audience.
Post production work is currently ongoing at SIM via their
post-production division, Bling Digital in Toronto. Bling is facilitating the
online edit, final color grading and 
finishing.
Based on reaction to the show’s pilot, hopes are high for Spun Out. “It’s a big show for us and it
was great to work with SIM and its partners on a project of this scale,” says Brunton.
“We all believe that this show is going to be a hit…one that will go on for
years.”
About SIM Digital
With offices across the USA, Canada and China, SIM Digital is a world-class
rental facility specializing in digital production equipment and workflow
services. SIM offers one of the largest and most diverse inventories of the
latest digital cinematography tools from top manufacturers including ARRI,
Sony, RED, Panasonic, Canon, Fujinon, Angenieux, Zeiss, Cooke. In tandem with
its innovative Bling Digital division, the company offers the industry’s most
comprehensive workflow solutions for feature and television production,
encompassing cameras, data, dailies, offline editorial, finishing and
archiving.  For more information, visit www.simdigital.com

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