AJA Ki Pro Rack Rocks For Elton John

Monday, September 10, 2012

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“Some people are nervous a digital workflow isn’t as secure as using tape,” Shires said. “In my opinion, using tapeless decks is a no-brainer as the benefits far outweigh any risks. Knowledge is power and knowing how to incorporate the Ki Pro and other AJA technologies is a huge advantage to any production.”
Six-time Grammy winner Elton John is currently headlining a three-year gig at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. His show ,“The Million Dollar Piano,” is reportedly named for his new piano which took manufacturer Yamaha four years to build. Several times a week, John spends two hours dazzling audiences with hit after hit accompanied by his trademark flair, and recently, one of John’s performances was recorded for a DVD release of the legend’s chartoppers. 

Freelance film and video editor Claude Shires was tasked with designing the workflow to capture the performance. To do so, he employed AJA’s Ki Pro and two newly released Ki Pro Rack tapeless recorders. “We have had great success using our Ki Pros and the addition of the dedicated Super Out status overlay on both Ki Pro and Ki Pro Rack is a huge benefit for technology directors accustomed to working with tape who always want complete assurance that we’re actually recording. Having the Super Out gives them that added confidence,” said Shires. “The Ki Pro Rack’s 1RU form factor is also great and makes it really easy to install.”

An expert in tapeless workflows, Shires is a go-to resource for companies looking to digitally capture live events. Just in the past year, he has worked on eleven television specials featuring the likes of Joan Rivers, Snoop Dogg, Bobcat Goldthwaite and Rita Rudner through LOL Productions, using Ki Pros on each production.

“The distance between the different sectors of production and postproduction keep getting shorter as technologies improve,” said Shires. “I love working with Ki Pro because, as an editor, it gets me footage in the best way possible – Quicktime files straight from the source. I have complete control of footage acquisition with Ki Pro and it goes right into my SAN which provides a direct to edit workflow.”

Ten cameras and a line cut were used to shoot “The Million Dollar Piano” show with eight Ki Pros and two Ki Pro Racks recording media. The equipment was wired into a mobile production truck provided by Sweetwater in Los Angeles, and tested before departing for Las Vegas. Upon arrival, a tech rehearsal was conducted including a hard record test to make sure the video out on the Ki Pro and Ki Pro Rack units was routing to the appropriate monitors. Once that was complete, Shires oversaw the talent rehearsal with John which was captured for cutaway footage. Finally, the full performance was recorded with a live audience the next day.

“Before Ki Pro, we would have had to use ten HDCAM decks and a haul of tape stock. Since the performance runs about two hours, a massive tape change would have been required towards the end of the show – not an ideal scenario,” Shires explained.  “Ki Pros have made things so much easier and cost effective. The units are substantially less expensive than HDCAM decks, you don’t have to spend hours digitizing footage or managing tape stock, and you don’t have to worry about changing tapes since the entire two hour performance fits on a single Ki Pro drive.”

Shires backs up every show using  a six terabyte Thunderbolt RAID, in addition to duplicating copies of Ki Pro source files for clients. The majority of editing for “The Million Dollar Piano” DVD is being conducted by Yamaha’s Nashville-based in-house team using Final Cut Pro, but Shires is able to consult on the edit remotely by accessing the identical media and transferring timelines back and forth.

“Some people are nervous a digital workflow isn’t as secure as using tape,” Shires said. “In my opinion, using tapeless decks is a no-brainer as the benefits far outweigh any risks. Knowledge is power and knowing how to incorporate the Ki Pro and other AJA technologies is a huge advantage to any production.”

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