MixOne Sound & Cinema recorded Pentatonix’s first live concert in two years, ready for streaming via Moment House, on Blackmagic’s URSA Broadcast G2 with dual gain ISO.

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In December 2021, a cappella singing group Pentatonix held its first concert in two years before an audience in Louisville, Kentucky, featuring songs from its latest album ‘Evergreen’. The show was recorded and, just ahead of Christmas, streamed as a live concert at specific times across four time zones via the live media social platform Moment House.

Moment House specialises in delivering live experiences with cinematic imagery from multicamera productions. MixOne Sound & Cinema, with its own speciality in high profile entertainment events, was chosen to produce the concert.

Low Light Performance

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MixOne Cinema’s Director Kevin Garcia described the performance and the equipment his team used – adding up to a mainly Blackmagic Design workflow – to achieve the required look for Moment House. In particular, the Pentatonix show included many dimly lit, intimate moments for which he used the URSA Broadcast G2. The camera has a 6K sensor and dual gain ISO to avoid capturing excessive grain or noise.

Kevin said, “Being able to crank the gain without losing quality was very helpful for some of the darker moments of the show that otherwise may not have come out as clean – it made a world of difference. At times I was concerned, but we could push the URSA Broadcast G2s and still maintain the polished look in the resulting footage that the band and I had in mind for the show.”

Changing the camera’s ISO shifts the amount of light that the camera perceives as mid-grey. Down at lower ISO levels there may only be two or three stops of dynamic range above mid-grey, but many more stops below. However when users go up to higher ISO levels, the camera switches to a stronger signal amplifier. Dynamic range is extended at either end. A different set of ISO settings is engaged through a different signal path optimised for lower-light shooting, and results in a lower noise floor and cleaner images.

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Bigger Workflows, More Control

“The 6K sensor and dual ISO are things I’ve always loved as part of my Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro. Now with the URSA Broadcast G2, I have the extra features that come with the URSA body and can expand on the workflow. For instance we’re able to mount to a gimbal or jib for more control, and have the additional ports and the dual CFast card slots, which allow for nonstop recording,” said Kevin.

“Earlier on, once we let the audience in during a show, we never had a way to bring the jib down to swap cards. But since we have had camera control via the ATEM Software Control and cann put two cards in place, it hasn’t been a concern. We can support whatever the job demands of us.”

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As well as the URSA Broadcast G2s, Kevin’s crew used four URSA Mini Pro 12Ks, noting that the two cameras matched very easily. The high dynamic range combined with the Blackmagic RAW codec delivered a cinematic look. Rounding out the workflow was a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro and Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K live production switcher, Blackmagic Video Assist 7in 12G HDR monitor/recorder and Mini Converters Optical Fibre 12G. DaVinci Resolve Studio was used for grading in post.

He said, “We routed everything into the ATEM using fibre, as we were in an arena and had a lot of long cable runs. The Mini Converters helped us cover long distances very quickly with fibre and allowed real-time camera shading via the ATEM. We recorded ISO feeds from each camera and the program out onto an SSD with the Video Assist. The ease of organising all the Blackmagic Design units to work together meant the team was up and running with speed and efficiency, and helped achieve quite a smooth show.”

Hybrid Model - Here to Stay

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Kevin remarked that he and MixOne Cinema now find themselves working in a continuously changing industry, going from live events into streaming and now a hybrid of both. “It’s been a very exciting time,” he said. “The hybrid model is especially advantageous as it brings live performances to an audience at home who otherwise wouldn't have the ability to view these events.

“I personally think this hybrid model is here to stay. We regularly see artists planning streams as part of a tour or as a special event, for example, a new release or an anniversary of a record, and we are able to use Blackmagic Design products to adapt to any workflow. It’s a new and exciting busines model for the industry.” www.blackmagicdesign.com