We spend a lot of time moving between different studios here at 7 Stream Media, meaning we do a lot of setup and tear down and it is important to streamline kit as much as possible. Here are some of the things that I really couldn’t live without…
No1 a Stream Deck. If you’re working in live video production and you haven’t got yourself a Stream Deck, you are seriously missing out on a world of joy. These things, coupled with the right software, have some Harry Potter levels of wizardry ability. Being able to simultaneously control your video, audio and sometimes even lights is simply fantastic when running and/or trouble shooting a live production system. Being relatively inexpensive compared to most vision mixing panels, and also much smaller, this wonderful bit of kit is a must when working on any live event.
No2 an ATOMOS Flame (other SDI monitors are available). The amount of time you can waste in trouble shooting cameras and other kit on set, when you haven’t got a little monitor to check if there’s signal coming through, is ridiculous. If you spend a lot of time plugging in cameras or checking white balances and such, get yourself an SDI monitor… it’ll save you time and a headache. Furthermore, some of these monitors can do cross conversion and can serve as loop through monitors for your production. At the last event I was on we used an ATOMOS Flame to give the director a view of what was on the in-vision TV at all times.
No3 the NDI tools suite. This little suite of software is just… beautiful. At 7 Stream Media we use NDI a lot. Whether that’s on-site or back at the office in our virtual or physical studios, at nearly every production we run there’s some NDI on the network. Because NDI runs over LAN it is incredibly powerful but can also be very confusing when it doesn’t work. Thankfully most of the time NDI is relatively plug and play but sometimes it can be a bit more plug and why isn’t it working… On the whole though, the NDI tools package is a great place to start, for trouble shooting and for creating and managing NDI feeds. It’s free easy to setup and just great fun to play with.
No4 a Windows laptop. Now I know you expect us creative types to be all Apple-this and Apple-that, I do use, and I do like a Mac but there are some things that a Windows machine just does better. Either way, having a portable machine that you can move around with makes a world of difference. With most hardware devices having web interfaces, being able to quickly plug in and access them makes a world of difference when trying to set up quickly and trouble shoot effectively. Even if you’re just running a speed test, plugging in a laptop is always quicker than setting up a PC. You also look super cool and professional if you walk around holding your laptop with one hand and typing with another.
No5 a drink. This one might seem funny but having a few bottles of water or a coffee can make a world of difference to how your day goes. I can sometimes find myself feeling a bit sluggish and frustrated if I haven’t had enough water throughout the day and when you’re working with a team in a high-pressure environment you don’t want to be losing your patience because you’re running on fumes. Looking after yourself on site is probably one of the most overlooked parts of production but is, without doubt, one of the most important things to do.