Each year in New York City, Fox like all networks, bows to their advertisers with their annual Upfronts Presentation. It’s a chance to plug their lineup, introduce new shows, explain old decisions and entertain, pulling out the stops with a star-studded show featuring top celebs, star-style execs, and wow ‘em video footage—all in the name of marketing their upcoming season.
The live presentation is of the highest caliber, worthy of an awards show, because they are presenting to folks who know the difference. It’s no surprise that they rely on their first rate in-house production team, backed up by their most trusted technical consultants who support the creative flow, handle the complex technology, and make sure its all snafu free.
For the past 17 years Josh Mark, Fox Upfronts producer, has had the job of managing the production, complete with the complicated logistics a project of this caliber demands. What started as a media server and a single screen, now has graduated to 4, 4K screens, each filled with a seemingly endless array of content to support multi-fold happenings onstage.
Programmer/screens producer/content coordinator Laura Frank was involved early on, "I was introduced to Josh Mark in 2013 for the Fox Sports network launch to provide media server programming and content production workflow engineering. With the success of that event and my lack of availability to participate in the Upfront, my first choice was Lux Machina to take over to provide programming and engineering services.” To this day Frank continues to support the show as needed, partnering with the new production team.
In 2014, Lux Machina was tasked with starting to transition the workflow to media servers, and in the years since, the new technology has enabled the crew to step up their game. Last year, Mark brought in Drew Findley’s stellar team to create the background visual content with Fox’s in-house art director. Lux Machina handled all the video screen related technicalities. “Drew and the Lux team worked hand in hand on the creative and the process so the content was expertly controlled,” explains Mark. This year to ensure a smooth workflow, LuxMC came on-board early, providing the specs, and on presentation day, operated the server package that does the playback for the show.
LuxMC specified the hardware. Zach Alexander, LuxMC’s COO, explains “To handle this year’s two terabytes of content, we used three d3 4x4pro’s for playback, a 10GB network for content management and our video feeds were switched with a Barco E2. Interestingly enough, we had 2 programmers building the show on the same machine simultaneously. In addition to playing back all the screen graphics we also handled each of the executives’ slide presentations in the same system. That simplified the cue calling for the show caller immensely.”
The consensus was clear: this year’s program was more refined and efficient which leant more time to work on creativity and less on programming. “For me, it’s one less thing to worry about,” adds Josh Mark. “The Lux team is great to work with—professional, reliable, and on it.”