Hamer Hall Dives into Video
Text:/ Preshan John
Melbourne’s Hamer Hall is the city’s pre-eminent concert hall, and like most performing arts venues, had a growing need for the Broadcast & Multimedia team to add permanent high-quality video recording capabilities to its services. But given the sacred nature of the aesthetics and acoustics of Hamer Hall, anything conspicuous was verboten.
The Arts Centre chose to install four camera systems, each made up of three components — Panasonic 1800 AK box cameras with Canon lenses, mounted on Telemetrics robotic pan/tilt heads for remote camera control.
The broadcast control room packs a Ross Carbonite switcher hooked up to a few TVLogic screens for display. During a Hamer Hall performance, a single operator mans the robotic remote for control of the four cameras.
The great thing about the Telemetrics robotics system is that it’s silent — which is crucial because the acoustics of the Hamer Hall is such that a scrunched Maltesers packet would be clearly audible throughout the space.
Alison Murphy, Manager, Broadcast & Media, says, “We love the setup here, especially for hirers and orchestral shows. There’s a touchscreen where you can pre-program all the moves for the cameras with the Telemetrics system — you can start at A, end at B, and make that a zoom and a pan to the oboe solo. So you can rehearse all the shows and essentially come up with pages and pages of presets for each of the four cameras. Having presets is integral to the use of this setup.”
As you can imagine, this kind of workflow is worlds away from having one hand on a camera’s focus ring and the other on a tripod arm — but it does mean a whole show can be filmed, recorded, and broadcasted with a very small crew. There are also one or two ‘hands-on camera’ operators in Hamer Hall itself, to get the shots the robotised cams can’t.
The Video Devices PIX 270i rackmount video recorder plays an important role in the network of equipment. The PIX 270i is capable of multi-drive recording on up to four SSDs to allow for redundancy and backup. A timecode generator, frame rate converter and scaler are all built-in. Inputs include 3G SDI, HD-SDI, and HDMI. It’s also fully networkable and expandable, with 64 channels of both MADI and Dante audio I/O for more demanding applications. Hamer Hall’s two Video Devices PIX 270i recorders sit in the rack room of the Broadcast Control area.
Murphy: “The main reason why we use these is you can assign them to an IP address, remotely hit Record, name the files, and back them up to our internal servers.
“The Video Devices PIX 270i runs SSDs, and we can transfer the files quickly via USB 3.0 or Firewire. Sometimes hirers want to take the media straight away so they bring in their own SSDs, record the media, and fly back to London or wherever they’re from.”
Hamer Hall’s technical makeover has increased the venue’s capability and versatility in recording, handling and producing media. Not only does it increase the regularity of big-name artists coming through its doors, but the updated tech means interns and casual operators are trained in an industry-relevant environment.