Pivot Point: Smart Production Companies Find Their Way in Uncertain Times

Published on in Live Streaming / Web Casting

I wanted to take some time and get some of the great positive production stories posted that are going on out there right now. Most of the people I know in the production business are very positive people, pragmatic, but still positive. That's me as well!

Getting and Staying Out Front 

Let’s cut to the chase, literally. We caught up with John Hyland and Darren Thomas from 1DS Collective a Los Angeles based production company. They (1DS Collective) got the call at the last minute to make a live stream racing event happen. No problem really, except when your resources are scattered all over the country! Here we go.

PH: Tell me a little bit about yourselves and how you got involved in production? 

John Hyland: Production was something I fell into roughly 10 years ago. I was living in NYC and my good friend and roommate were heavily involved in TV and new media in front of the camera. I was intrigued by the entire ecosystem and started producing YouTube and new media segments with him as we were trying to sort out where the industry was headed. Seven years ago I relocated to LA and began working with various Youtube personalities and social media influencers. We also grew the media network 'The BEAST Network' from zero to over 100,000 subscribers and 5,000 OTT customers.

Darren Thomas: My journey behind the camera took a more winding path. I was a professional musician turned producer of music festivals, turned film and gaming director/producer to finally live broadcast producer.  From 1998 to 2001 I produced over 14 international festivals. I survived due in part to industry veterans like John Small of PictureVision, David George and Herb Robinson mentored me at an early age.  

PH: How long have you been doing production and what kinds of production?

John Hyland: I have been producing content for 10 years now. Darren has been doing this for over 20 years.  1DS is mainly involved in commercials and snackable digital content. Darren and I met a few years ago when he produced a live stream for one of our channels.  With no advance notice and just one tweet an hour before we brought in over 12,000 concurrent viewers. We have reconnected to focus on an all-encompassing solution for events and brands with the need for live streaming and digital/social coverage.   

PH: What is going on with 1DS  right now and what are clients asking for? 

John Hyland: At 1DS our main focus has always been “how do we add value and solve real problems for our clients.” This is an unprecedented time in our history and whether you work in commercials, film, or live broadcast you are being impacted.  In my opinion, there might be many productions or production companies that might not come back from this current situation. The key for us was to pivot and offer solutions to the prohibition on attendees at events.  We are fielding requests from customers to assist them in turning in-person events into a dynamic and meaningful virtual experience. 

PH: Can you give me an example of a production that might have been a traditional multi-camera shoot and how it turned into a streaming event? 

John Hyland: This one happened just a few weeks ago and is one of those insane production things you say “yes” to before realizing you only have hours to pull it off.  We were tasked with covering a drifting race at the famous Willow Springs Race Course north of LA.  The client was a great organization out of Chicago called Final Bout. When the news broke on the prohibition of crowds larger than 50 people, they asked us if we could turn around a live stream. The call came in mid-day Friday and load-in started the next day.  The problem was our broadcast truck was on the East Coast so we had to fly in a Director, our gear, and produce a multi-camera live stream all while battling 30 mile-an-hour winds, 40-degree weather, coupled with intermittent rain. Did I mention this was all happening in the desert!  

The event was not promoted until 8 hours before the race. Unlike traditional television, a live stream is measured as much by interaction as it is viewership. The key for us was partnering with the YouTube Channel Hoonigan and their 3.3 million subscribers. The title sponsor, Falken tires, was ecstatic about the response.  That has now opened up new opportunities for us in the future. 

PH:  What is your current gear list include?

John Hyland: Our current gear includes:

  • 3 Blackmagic ATEM talkback converter 4K 
  • 2 Blackmagic ATEM Studio Converter 
  • 4 BMD Multiview 16
  • 6 BMD SmartView Dual Monitors
  • 2 BMD SmartView 4K Monitors
  • Tascam multi-channel digital recorder
  • DataVideo ITC-100 8 channel intercom system for in-truck communication.
  • 16 channel Mackie mixer along with multiple Berhingers
  • BMD ATEM Production Studio 4K
  • 4 Toshiba 50” monitors
  • 2 ViewSonic 4K monitors
  • Ubquiti 24Gb/s managed switch
  • In-wall audio monitor system
  • 3 BMD Decklink Quad 2 ingest cards
  • 3 BMD Decklink Duo 2
  • 1 Matrox 4 channel
  • 1 8 channel AJA Corvid 88
  • 1 GlenSound 3-place Commentary box
  • 1 GlenSound 1 place Commentary box
  • 11 JVC 600 series broadcast cameras
  • 12 Benro VS4 Pro fluid head tripods.

The heart of the system is a series of four custom built computers running vMix software. With the integration of NDI, we can easily move the signal from any system. Switching control is handled by xKeys 80. This allows us to customize our setup based on the event. The replay is controlled by JL Cooper SLO-MO Pro. We have several different live graphic options for our downstream key.  

The truck can be configured with up to a sixteen camera ingest and 16 channels of replay. Blackmagic provided an integration solution into their talkback converters for seamless communication in the truck. 

Lastly, we also have five mobile fly packs for the smaller-scale live stream and broadcasting setups.

PH: Anything else you would like to add?

John Hyland: The beautiful thing about what we do is that it is virtual and requires very minimum human interaction and proximity. We see very little risk in our streaming solutions. With the addition of our NDI technology, our director and TD can remote into our truck eliminating the need for additional people at the location.  

Some Closing Thoughts/Answering the Call

I love it when production professionals like John Hyland, Darren Thomas, and countless others are put to the test and somehow figure out how to get the job done. It’s what we do! Live, taped, remote, single camera, multi-camera, podcasting, and Youtube - we all have stories to tell and we're going to continue to tell them. Right now this situation kinda really sucks. I don’t know but maybe just maybe it is just one way to get us to rethink how we go about our business and pivot to something new and even better than what we were doing before. Stay tuned, and stay safe! 

Talk To Me

Hey you, yes you! Do you have a great production or gear story that needs some love and needs to be told? Let's hear it! I am always on the lookout for really cool, innovative stories and gear.

Reach me on Instagram: markfoleyeditor or Email me at mfoley@productionhub.com. Put "Coolest Story Ever" in the subject line and a short description and we’ll go from there. 

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About the Author

Mark Foley
Mark Foley
Mark J. Foley, MBA BA is an award-winning producer and director and the Technology Editor for ProductionHUB.com. He is on a mission to provide the best in new equipment reviews, along with exclusive analysis and interviews with the best, the brightest and most creative minds in the entertainment and production business. Have a suggestion for a review? Email Mark at mfoley@productionhub.com.

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