Technological advancements continue to raise the bar for modern live event experiences, enabling interactive, high-resolution video with rich colors, 3D projection mapping, augmented reality graphics, and more. German full-service event provider GAHRENS + BATTERMANN (G+B) specializes in pushing the boundaries of such technological evolutions to help its clients deliver memorable in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. To do so, the company leverages a host of AJA technologies, including those geared toward UltraHD HDR workflows.
Anticipating future demand for UltraHD HDR event production, G+B began building mobile 12G-SDI UltraHD HDR control rooms in 2019. However, demand has just started to take off in recent months as in-person and hybrid events have resumed, alongside continued demand for virtual events.
Last fall, G+B deployed a mobile control room to live stream a press conference from the IAA Exhibition in Munich, Germany—complete with key/fill overlays for lower thirds—for one of Germany’s most well-known automotive brands. The project required a dedicated workflow including a switcher and playback systems, and signal distribution to six large LED screens on the client’s exhibition booth. Considering the nature of the project, audio and video demands, and space restrictions, G+B relied extensively on the equipment in the mobile control room to manage the job.
Pre-wired control racks, a professional production switcher, and high-grade cameras run standard in each unit, with high-quality conversion and signal distribution, analysis, and recording technology pivotal to the design. “No project is the same, but conversion is always part of the workflow blueprint,” shared G+B Broadcast specialist Daniela Böhmer. “This is especially true when working with various HDR standards and camera formats, which is why AJA FS-HDR has been an invaluable part of our mobile fleet; it makes cross conversions and associated LUT processing more straightforward. The entire FS line is amazing in that it provides so much flexibility; whether de-/embedding audio or converting video, we can achieve so many different signals and formats in different ways.”
G+B also uses FS-HDR to up/down/cross convert four channels of 2K/HD across projects and realize 4K 12G-SDI productions for customers who require it. “UltraHD HDR live event production is still nascent, and many of the productions we work on are realized in HD and SDR," Böhmer added. "However, every year, advanced formats gain more traction, especially as the industry begins to see their potential. In time, as the cost of equipment comes down and implementation becomes more practical, we anticipate UltraHD HDR to become an industry standard, and having already worked with it, we’re well positioned for this future reality.”
In addition to using FS-HDR, G+B taps a range of AJA Mini-Converters in its mobile control room to support unexpected conversion needs that arise, such as a client who requests a change that requires audio-embedding, or a key/fill feed for lower-thirds that demands HDMI to SDI signal conversion. “We have to be prepared to address last minute client requests, which is why we built the control rooms to support a variety of signal types and formats,” Böhmer explained. “AJA gear has been helpful in this respect, providing high-performance, reliable and cost-effective conversion solutions to adapt to changes.”
For image analysis, each mobile control room also includes an AJA HDR Image Analyzer, which allows the production team to view all the important data of the attached video signal in a structured way. When camera matching, the team can seamlessly switch between different settings and views of the waveform representation to get the best possible picture out of the camera. No control room is complete, however, without routing and recording equipment, for which G+B uses AJA KUMO 3232-12G compact SDI routers and Ki Pro video recorders.
“We love the compact, reliable nature of our KUMO, plus it makes it easy to replace defective cables at any time. When we need to make on the fly changes, the web interface and adjustable control panel make it quick and simple,” noted Böhmer. “The Ki Pro family has been a part of our rental fleet for a long time. The Ki Pro GO, with H.264 to USB drive recording, has been instrumental in accelerating file turnover for customers, with multi-channel HD recording and redundancy.”
Several of G+B’s control room tools support 12G-SDI connectivity, which helps the team transmit UltraHD signals over a single cable. “Most projects last anywhere from 3-14 days, without any existing infrastructure for signal transmission, so quad split SDI technology is just not practical," Böhmer explained. "It would mean four times the cables, more complex troubleshooting, and potential differences in runtime between the individual cables. The single-cable simplicity of 12G-SDI is just easier and more reliable for what we do, and thankfully AJA offers a range of 12G-SDI kit.”
In the coming years, Böhmer expects demand for high quality content production with video streaming to increase and is confident that G+B is prepared to handle this future with its mobile UltraHD HDR control rooms.