Live Streaming a Large-Scale Reality Competition Series in 4K

By January 22, 2018Case Studies, News

At A Glance

Location: Sable Ranch – Santa Clarita, CA
Beast: 600-foot long, three-stories high
Production: 7 Days
Competitors: 108
Countries: 6
Cameras:
• 30 cameras recording eight hours of footage each day
• (5) Sony HDC-4300 4K cameras
• (16) Panasonic AW-UE70 4K PTZ camera systems

Overview

There were complex elements to compete with on the set of the Ultimate Beastmaster which made workflow challenging, including extremely hot days exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, expansive set, night shoots, and limited set up time. However, Bexel’s technical operations and engineering team help make all the pieces fit together, whether they are supporting a complex reality show, a global sporting even, or an large broadcast event.

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Delivering a show that fully utilized 4K ENG, 4K cinema and 4K robotic-style PTZ cameras for content capture.

Bexel Tames The Beast For Netflix Global Competition Series, Ultimate Beastmaster 

The series is co-produced by 25/7 Productions reality TV veteran Dave Broome (The Biggest Loser) in collaboration with actor/director Sylvester Stallone.

Netflix took physically challenging reality competition to a whole new level with its on-demand series, Ultimate Beastmaster. The show is the first international competition series of its kind, with six customized regional versions featuring local languages, competitors and hosts from each competing country.

Competitors from the U.S., Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Germany and Japan take their shot at running

“The Beast,” one of the most physically demanding obstacle courses ever devised. All ten, hour-long episodes of the series were available at the same moment globally on Netflix.

Bexel was given the monster task of helping 25/7 Productions, the main production company for Ultimate Beastmaster, produce 60 episodes in 4K resolution in a matter of two weeks. After more than six months of planning and logistics, Bexel technicians took just one week to install the necessary equipment and infrastructure. The location demanded that all the cameras, RF, data, microwave, audio and communications signals be connected via fiber optic cable. Using a combination of SMPTE and Tactical fiber, Bexel provided a complete solution that enabled coverage of the entire beast set.

4K & SPECIALTY CAMERAS

To capture the video action, Bexel installed five Sony HDC-4300 4K cameras; one running in 2X slow-motion mode, five Sony F55 camera shoulder mounted units and two F55 cameras mounted into separate a SpiderCam system (120 feet above the set), as well as 16 Panasonic AW-UE70 4K PTZ camera systems. In total, there were nearly 30 cameras recording eight hours of footage each day.

There was also an F55 camera used for green-screen shooting, and six handheld Sony FS-7 4K camcorders grouped in pairs of two for interviews with the competitors. All of the action was recorded to numerous AJA Video Ki Pro Ultra file-based recorders before being sent to QSR for editing and finishing.

Bexel worked together with the Beastmaster Engineering team to set up a system whereby the director and producers viewed the footage in HD (1920x1080p), and utilized two 4K quality control stations to verify the 4K product. This design allowed the benefits of the standard HD workflow while capturing the entire show in 4K.

“This is the biggest project that most of my staff have worked on. There were times we looked at each other and shook our heads. It was daunting, but the schedule was the scariest part of the project for me. To say the very least, the time frame was ambitious. I knew that Bexel had an incomparable depth of experience working in this high-pressure, high visibility, live arena.”

– Richard Devinki, senior vice president Production at 25/7.

Audio & Communications

There were sophisticated audio requirements for production and for the high pressure internal communications. No wireless mics were attached to the contestants, so over 60 microphones had to be mounted throughout the set to capture the competition.

Bexel’s proprietary Managed Antenna System (MAS) enabled all of the wireless microphones to be received anywhere on the expansive set. This system incorporated copper infrastructure and fiber infrastructure to accomplish this.

Keeping the crew, trucks and hosts connected during production was critical. Bexel helped all the teams work efficiently with a Telex ADAM intercom system, a Clear-Com FreeSpeak II system (with 30 wireless beltpacks working on the 1.9GHz and 2.4GHz frequency bands), and Bexel’s proprietary High Powered Wireless Intercom system.

Mobile Production

To save time and money, Bexel brought in a mobile production truck to serve as the show’s main control room. There was a secondary production trailer outfitted for the show’s six (two-man) producer teams, each working in a different language. The show’s director gave commands in English and the various producers would monitor all of the audio feeds and translate for their respective foreign language hosts, while also deciding what to do for each episode based on the actions of their country’s competing team.

Bexel took a personal approach to Ultimate Beastmaster that was above the call of duty. They were on set when they didn’t need to be, they were present, and they always took the extra step. They made a promise and followed through perfectly. We know there are only a handful of people in the world that could pull off what they did.

– Richard Devinki, senior vice president Production at 25/7

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About Bexel
Celebrating more than 35 years of broadcast excellence, Bexel, an NEP Broadcast Services Company, skillfully delivers unparalleled production services and engineering expertise for some of the world’s largest televised events. Bexel has mastered the art of service from concept to completion, and its unique solutions equip broadcasters to capture powerful content anywhere in the world. Bexel’s specialized broadcast offerings include fiber, specialty cameras, 4K solutions, graphics, custom flypacks, and intercom, as well as systems integration, managed services, enterprise solutions, and product sales. Since 1981, Bexel has continually enhanced and evolved the media production experience. 

About NEP
For over 30 years, NEP has been a worldwide outsourced technical production partner supporting premier content producers of live sports, entertainment, music and corporate events. Our services include remote production, studio production, audio visual solutions, host broadcast support, premium playout, post production and innovative software-based media management solutions. NEP's 3,000+ employees are driven by a passion for superior service and a focus on technical innovation. Together, we have supported productions in over 85 countries on all seven continents. NEP is headquartered in the United States and has offices in 24 countries. Learn more at nepgroup.com.

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