Control of video from ten streams and nine venues was facilitated and simplified with Roland video hardware
Los Angeles, CA — “Moogfest celebrates the innovative collision that Bob Moog discovered long, long ago when he invented the Moog synthesizer, where art, technology, science – that creative spirit in all forms – come together.” In that one sentence, KamranV, managing partner and CTO of Moogfest, succinctly encapsulates the event. “Moogfest started in 2004 in New York City,” he elaborates, “and eventually travelled to where the Moog factory is in Asheville. Now we’re in our home here in Durham, NC. It’s about 40,000 people over the weekend from 44 different states and 22 different countries. And it grows every year. It’s really fantastic.” That success comes from channeling that “innovative collision” and controlling it with foresight and the application of technology – the latter including video switchers from Roland Professional A/V. “When we’re able to collide all those things and work with products that pay attention to that, it really translates to the people that are a part of our community. It’s fortunate that we’re able to do this with Roland.”
The Moogfest audience has grown virtually as well as physically in recent years with the inclusion of live video streaming of event content for those not able to attend in person. Prior to 2017, “We did our largest stream last year,” shares KamranV. “We had about five million folks view it on Facebook; it was just one venue though.” Moogfest’s streaming offerings took a giant leap forward in 2017, with ten total streams. “Nine different venues and one actual aggregate stream that’s going through different partners like VuHaus that goes to all the NPR stations – being able to go to NPR stations and be in their native player is huge.”
The video signal flow begins with a variety of cameras feeding a Roland V-1200HD multi-format video switcher or VR-50HD multi-format A/V or VR-4HD all-in-one A/V mixers, the switcher choice depending on the size and configuration of each venue. “Coming from a wide array of cameras,” says KamranV, “it’s been great for us that the Roland gear can understand the different ways that every camera works. In the past we’ve had some challenges with whether certain cameras and brands have a good connection at a certain distance through SDI, and that’s been resolved pretty easily through all the Roland products.” The signal flow continues into a service called Scale Engine, that “pushes it to a playlist; that playlist actually has a fallback video in it, so when we’re not streaming you’ll actually see a video go up,” so there’s no gap in the viewer’s visual experience. “From there we go to a service called Wowza, and it syndicates it to the different channels. The streams go to Facebook, Periscope, and YouTube and to the native players on all those you can view our stream.”
The largest Moogfest stage, Motorco Park, used the Roland V-1200HD switcher. “This is a very complex production,” explains KamranV. “It’s a massive stage with lots of audio inputs that are being mixed down and then going right into the V-1200HD. The camera routing is very complex – different types of cameras, long runs – and we’re pushing it out to all the services. The internal routing and the options of where we can go with such a large stage that has IMAG and all these different pieces, allows us flexibility and communication with the stage production, where normally those are very segregated pieces.” For the medium-sized venues, Roland’s VR-50HD was deployed. “With those,” says KamranV, “it’s just the right amount of inputs, just the right amount of features, and simple enough that there isn’t a lot of setup time, so it’s very, very quick. Then we use VR-4HD in our interview lounge – we had several artists doing interviews with other artists and distributed those through our different media partners.” He sums up his fondness for Roland video products: “The controls are super intuitive – the way that they recognize the different inputs coming in. There’s not really a lot of guesswork and troubleshooting, making things really smooth.”
KamranV’s comments are mirrored in the feedback from the production “conductors” and live editors. Production switcher Peter Fradella shares that the Armory venue at Moogfest had four cameras with a blend of HDMI and SDI and some long runs feeding a Roland VR-50HD. He calls the setup a “very easy workflow to get up and running” and credits the VR-50HD with “helping us problem solve a lot of issues that we didn’t expect.” The A/V mixer’s touchscreen and menu system also warranted Fradella’s praise: “To get where you need to go quickly is extremely important, especially on the fly – having the ability to go back and forth within one or two clicks is extremely useful.” The VR-50HD is also easy to learn, in Fradella’s experience. “We had a nice little training session and I think literally within 10 or 15 minutes we all had a grasp. It’s very user friendly, very intuitive. I had a little bit of experience with Roland’s gear; there were some in the class that had no experience, but even they caught on extremely fast. So, from beginner to pro, you’re set.”
Cam Carrithers also used the VR-50HD at Moogfest’s Fletcher Hall Stage at the Carolina Theatre, blending the audio feed from the FOH mixer with the various camera feeds for streaming. He, too, singles out the A/V mixer’s touch screen interface for praise. “The VR-50 allows you to do most things in more than one way,” he shares. “For me, the touchpad changes it from the system that I typically use to something that’s more like an actual instrument. The thing that I could say that it’s closest to is like being a DJ. A DJ uses turntables and a mixer as an instrument to mix sounds, to make something new when you combine those things together. That’s what the VR-50 does for video and audio and graphics.”.
Justin Sewell conducted from the Motorco Park main stage at Moogfest 2017, where the Roland V-1200HD met heavy demands for capability. “We’re doing long runs so everything needed to be SDI,” Sewell explains, “and we needed a switcher that could support as many cameras as the talent wanted on them, plus a whole graphics package with lower thirds. We’re streaming up to 10 hours a day so we need a variety of sources and inputs from all angles. The V-1200HD is providing that. Full stop.”
The largest stage at Motorco Park had the most destinations for its content. “It’s not just going to Facebook and YouTube, Sewell details. “We want to record it in uncompressed 4:4:4 and 4:2:2. We needed a confidence monitor for the audio guys and for the rest of the team to see what’s actually being streamed. It’s just customer service to have our giant Lenovo screens connected to the V-1200HD so if talent management and agents or friends come in, they can see what’s being broadcast and how it looks and how professional it is. So, the Roland V-1200HD allowed us to send the video signal to six different destinations.”
Sewell adds that the Roland units performed flawlessly regardless of the elements. His conclusion sums up the contributions of Roland Professional A/V gear to the successful collision of technology and art that is Moogfest: “The feedback that we’re getting from the production team and the creative team is that the Roland switchers are just workhorses, they’re delivering the video and every tweak and every adjustment requested of us. Moogfest wouldn’t be as big as it is without these Roland switchers and how easy they are to use.”
Photo Caption: Daniel Christiansen (top) and Justin Sewell (bottom) use the V-1200HD Multi-Format Video Switcher to mix audio and video for MotoCo’s Main Stage at Moogfest 2017 in Durham, NC.