Media Stream Wave supported the 2024 Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals, designing complex workflows with URSA G2 cameras and ATEM Constellation 8K switchers to produce cinematic results.

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Media Stream Wave from Chicago supported the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Festival. The company's Principal Azuolas Sinkevicius equipped and supplied two production trucks that serviced all eight stages at Coachella and four stages at Stagecoach with IMAG and broadcasting to streaming and social media platforms.

While the workflow for each stage varied depending on size and location, Media Stream Wave designed various fibre workflows for its work on both festivals, consisting of up to 40 Blackmagic Design URSA Broadcast G2s equipped with Blackmagic Camera Fibre Converters and Blackmagic Studio Fibre Converters, and using SMPTE cabling for video, audio, power, talkback and tally over long distances.

The cameras fed into a line up of 14 ATEM Constellation 8Ks, with ATEM Camera Control Panels used for camera shading. Two ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panels, six ATEM 2 M/E Advanced Panels and an ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel were used to control all of the ATEM Constellation 8Ks.

“Our clients generally want to see a more cinematic result now for these live shows. We are moving toward that look and find Blackmagic Design gear is well suited to the projects,” said Azuolas. “We took the initial steps at Coachella, and we’re very happy with the workflow we’ve built so far. The camera / switcher combination makes such as solid system, from beautiful images to low latency to extreme reliability during these high stakes productions.”

A Cinematic System

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The URSA Broadcast G2 was designed for both traditional and online broadcasters. It can work as a 4K production camera, a 4K studio camera or a 6K digital film camera with a changeable lens mount. It has ENG camera controls positioned ergonomically around the camera, and features a low light sensor that captures good looking images using only natural light, useful for the on-stage work. The primary native ISO is 400, suitable for studio lighting, while the secondary high base ISO of 3200 adjusts to shooting in dimly lit environments.

The camera includes a built-in YRGB colour corrector, 13 stops of dynamic range and Blackmagic Generation 5 colour science matching the imaging system used in digital film cameras. The 6K sensor – with a resolution of 6144 x 3456 – accommodates broadcast and digital film work. Using B4 lenses yields a 4K window of the sensor for Ultra HD broadcast use, and changing to a PL or EF lens mount opens the full 6K resolution of the sensor for cinematic projects. The cameras can also be controlled remotely.

Media Stream Wave combines the URSA G2s with the ATEM Constellation 8Ks, which have 40 multi-rate 12G-SDI input connections compatible with HD, Ultra HD and 8K SDI sources. This capability suits concerts and music festivals because Azuolas’ crew can place a full fleet of cameras all around the stages. It also means they can use it as a large-scale HD and Ultra HD switcher, and then combine all the features together to work in native 8K. In other words, they have 40 independent 12G-SDI inputs, each with up and cross conversion, when working in HD or Ultra HD, which transform into 10 Quad Link 12G SDI 8K inputs.

From there, ATEM Constellation 8K features 24 independently routable 12G-SDI outputs that can be customized. For example, any external SDI input and all internal sources can be routed to any of these 12G-SDI outputs, giving the team flexibility to run independent program feeds, clean feeds or outputs for on-stage projection and video walls. Four independent Ultra HD multi views are also available, transforming into a full resolution 8K multi view.

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Challenging Conditions

Noting the products’ ability to handle challenging situations, Azuolas said, “I can put the Blackmagic Design gear in high intensity, mission critical situations like these festivals, where there’s 100 degree weather and they’re out in the sun for 10 hours, and I still have zero dropouts. Coachella is like the Super Bowl of music, with so much going on, and it’s a feat to manufacture equipment capable of supporting the amount of production that goes into these festivals.”

Sean Bartholomae, Media Stream Wave’s tech manager for Coachella’s Sahara Stage, commented that the resilience of the camera packages still surprise him. “You can put them in some of the harshest conditions and they will not only endure but deliver an outstanding product,” he said.

When it came to delivering recordings to the festivals, Azuolas set up 96 HyperDeck broadcast decks across the stages to record all line cuts, ISOs and airchecks. Ten H.264 Pro Recorders were used for line cut versions – composed of camera angles that the on-set director chose on the fly – that were uploaded specifically for the artists and management team.

For the streaming master control room hosted in one of Media Stream Wave’s trucks, Azuolas used DeckLink 8K Pro capture and playback cards to run ad insertions and graphics, and then triggered this content from the HyperDecks. Where key (alpha channel) and fill were needed for the graphics, the signal was fed straight to the ATEM Constellation 8Ks – the switchers each include internal graphics and four chroma keyers.

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Media Stream Wave also made use of 32 SmartView 4K monitors for various applications in the trucks, including shading and monitoring, and eight Blackmagic Video Assist 7-inch 12G HDR monitor/recorders were used as utility monitors out on the stages. Nine Smart Videohub 40x40 routers across the two trucks routed video feeds to various infrastructure destinations, controlled by 64 Videohub Smart Control Pros.

Thirty two Blackmagic Audio Monitor 12Gs were used for audio monitoring, and 56 Teranex AV standards converters provided various frame sync applications. Rounding out the workflow were 40 Teranex Mini SDI Distribution 12G converters used as signal distribution amplifiers and 450 Mini Converters Optical Fiber 12G-SDI to transport signals between stages and the video world in the trucks over fibre.

“The Blackmagic Design gear not only survived the intense desert with dust everywhere for days at a time during these festivals, but on top of that, the cameras also gave us images that people loved,” said Azuolas.