Popular British indie band Bloc Party celebrated the release of their new album, ‘Four’, by performing a one-off show at Earls Court in London. The band's biggest show to date, the performance hinged on proper video support for the 19,000 capacity venue. Video Director Matt Askem and XL Video rose to the occasion with a stunning visual package that perfectly complemented LD Rob Sinclair's lighting. XL Video supplied two Catalyst Media Servers, a Hog 4 console and two Barco FLM HD20 projectors, along with their Kayak based HD PPU with four Sony HXC-100 HD cameras and five Bradley Engineering CamBall2 HD remote cameras.
Well-known for his concert film work with Take That, a-Ha, Simply Red and others, Askem was also the live video director for the opening and closing Olympic Ceremonies. For the Earl's Court gig, the video director brought in media server programmer Hugh Davies-Webb to assist at the Earls Court show, giving Hugh his first opportunity to work with the new Hog 4 control platform.
Hugh explains, "Our goal was i-mag that complements what's going on with the songs by blending content and live cameras, and by shaping the video to fit the lighting and set designer's vision of the show, so everything is working together. We took lots of camera feeds from the Vision Mixer and treated them in appropriate ways - either colorizing, or doing different shades, and then used different sized PIP's and such to really shape the video. With a bit of rewiring we actually got six different video feeds going into the Catalyst media servers that I was driving with the Hog 4, and we had up to six feeds that we could put up on each screen."
The additional horsepower of the Hog 4 platform proved a major timesaver for Davies-Webb during pre-production. "This style of programming is quite meticulous," says Hugh, "in that you're often using one camera image over another image over another image - and putting different colors in and blending them all together. I've got a day with the video director before he runs off to meet the band and make sure that they're going to approve what we're doing - and about 24 songs to get in the bag, so with this style of programming, there's not much time to get it done and dusted.
"That's when a desk like the Hog 4 is a real lifesaver. The Hog 3 OS is still one of the fastest operating systems for a proficient programmer to use, but the Hog 4 is a real step up. The syntax on the Hog desks is really awesome; with a couple of keystrokes you can achieve something that would take several loads of key presses on other desks."
The Hog 4's User Kinds were utilized by Hugh for a significantly quicker programming experience. "As someone who loves Full Boars and Hog 3's," says Hugh, "I must say the Hog 4 platform is brilliant. One feature that stands out to me is the User Kinds, which is just a fabulous feature for media server programming. Rather than continually shuffling between different wheel sets on the desk, to go from my keystoning parameters to my scaling and to my positioning parameters, User Kinds allows the programmer to - with the push of a button - get the desk to bring up the parameters that you actually want to use. That feature is a massive timesaver."
Davies-Webb also found himself enjoying the Hog 4's motorized fader feature. "I've been a bit of a motorized fader Luddite," he confesses, "and I never saw the point - but with the way the Hog organizes info, the motorized fader is a really nice feature and it made my show easy to operate." In closing, the programmer gives high marks to the entire Hog 4 range. "High End have really done it right. They launched a whole range of desks that look cool, have great features, and the price is right as well. They're going to give the competition a few sleepless nights!"