Trio Video Tango Has All the Right Moves for Music Festivals

Given that Trio Video has a truck called Tango, it’s only logical that the remote-production unit finds itself at the center of the U.S. music-festival calendar for the next few months. Coachella and Outside Lands in California, Lollapalooza in Chicago, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, and Austin City Limits in Texas are among the Trio clients on the 2011 calendar. And just like the rest of the industry, the productions are advancing, courtesy of Web streaming and tapeless workflows.

“This is the first year the music festivals are doing 90% of everything on EVS hard drives,” says Peter Kimball, director of program development and production, for Trio Video. EVS IPDirectors and a combination of XT2 and XT3 replay machines are in the truck to record camera signals, a move away from relying on HD tapes. This year, festival operators will walk away with a suitcase of Lacie and G-Technology drives with multiple streams of recording on each drive instead of a boatload of tapes recording 15 camera signals individually.

“It’s saving time and money, cutting the costs by 75%, and there is no transfer time,” adds Kimball. “They can walk out of the truck and begin editing immediately on [Apple] Final Cut Pro or Avid editing systems. More than 80 bands were on the hard drives after Coachella.”

A music festival may sound like a pretty straightforward endeavor, but, with multiple stages, changing weather conditions, and often long cable runs over heavily trampled grounds, the challenges can add up.

And then there are the differences: Lollapalooza makes use of fiber runs strung overhead, whereas cabling in Bonnaroo is buried and in Coachella simply runs on the ground.

“At Coachella [two weeks ago], there were five stages with four or five cameras on each, and those cameras would be fed back to a specific control room with its own Grass Valley switcher and multitrack audio,” says Kimball. “And those feeds are sent out not only to Websites but also to VIP and sponsor tents throughout the grounds.”

The Grass Valley 1M/E switcher panels are all tied into the larger Grass Valley Kalypso at the center of the productions that make use of Grass Valley cameras and Fujinon lenses. Graphics are inserted by the individual Websites that deliver content out to the masses although some bands, such as Muse last year, have actually incorporated their own graphics into the production (other performers, Paul McCartney for one, have also gone so far as to add cameras and bring in a personal director).

Up next is Bonnaroo on June 7, where six stages of content will be streamed out over four channels. Five music and one comedy channel will be sent out through four trucks and with the help of six directors.

“The weather has been pretty good, and they are all-weather trucks that are used to being at Wrigley Field in April and Soldier Field for the NFL,” says Kimball of the potential for lousy weather. “But the show must go on.”

He observes that the music business is a natural fit for a company the size of Trio: “When you’re smaller, you have to work harder to keep clients, and you can’t just be strictly sports.”