PRG Delivers Knockout Postproduction Workflow for Showtime’s Fight Camp 360°

Programs like Showtime Sports’ Fight Camp 360°: Pacquiao vs. Mosley face monumentally fast production schedules, forcing the editing staff to turn hundreds of hours of footage into a tight hour-long narrative in a matter of days while footage is still being shot in the field. To create an efficient workflow — in terms of both cost and time — Showtime Sports turned to PRG Media Services.

“This [postproduction workflow] was mission critical because they finish mixing and editing within six to eight hours of broadcast,” says PRG VP of postproduction Bob Barzyk. “In fact, they would still be editing while we were mixing [the audio]. Imagine if we had a failure; it simply was not an option.”

The Hard Knocks-flavored Fight Camp 360° is a four-part documentary series that delves into the lives and training of Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley leading up to their World Welterweight Championship fight this Saturday. In all, the crew will shoot more than 1,000 hours of HD multicam footage for the series.

Showtime Sports had four demands: shoot with Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR cameras in a multiple-camera setup, use Avid editing suites, and run the system on Mac computers. PRG was tasked with assembling a system that met each requirement while sticking to the budget.

“Those [demands] don’t exactly mesh perfectly together,” says Barzyk. “So I started thinking, and I realized Zaxcom makes this great timecode-transmitter/receiver pack. So we borrowed some of those from Zaxcom, got a [Canon EOS 5D DSLR camera], and did some test shots. We were off and running at that point.”

At PRG’s facility in New York City, Showtime Sports used a total of 12 Avid Media Composer and two Avid Symphony editing systems tied to a 24-TB Avid Unity media storage system to create the four episodes. PRG’s 5.1 ProTools mix room with Full HD video playback was attached to the same Unity the editors were using, so all the media was ready to be used in the mix and opening sequences. This also allowed editors to make last-minute changes quickly and conveniently.

“We had to try to figure out how to handle 14 Avid clients on a Unity at a hi-res format,” says Barzyk. “They didn’t want to do any lo-res because there was no time to up-res the [footage]. So we bought these really fast new Apple 12-core processors. That gave me the courage to think we could do multicam editing with XDCAM [content]. So we converted all the footage to XDCAM, and we are able to do multicam editing.”

PRG ran all the footage through the XDCAM codec and began multicam editing. According to Barzyk, this saved approximately one-third of the storage space on the Unity storage system. By his estimation, PRG was able to put almost 1,500 hours of storage on a Unity that would normally hold only 500 hours.

“It was really a challenge to get them to feel comfortable with using new technologies and crossconverting to XDCAM,” he says, “but it saved a lot of money and time.”

This week, the project moved to the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas for the live event, where PRG provided the same editing setup: 12 Media Composers and two Symphonys. PRG made a mirror of the 24-TB Unity and shipped it to Las Vegas ahead of time so the editors and producers could pick up exactly where they left off; three editors stayed behind to fine-tune.

PRG is doing the audio mix remotely, in the New York facility, with files transferred between Vegas and New York via secure server and the project finished in Vegas for broadcast on Friday night.

“The [XDCAM setup] did more than save them money because we also had to move all that to Vegas,” says Barzyk. “That would have been a lot to ship across the country. It just wasn’t worth it, and it created more potential points of failure. We were just blessed to have all this fast new hardware, and we were able to do a lot more than we probably could have done just two years ago.”