Technological advancements continue to raise the bar for modern live event experiences, enabling high-resolution interactive video with rich colors, 3D projection mapping, augmented reality graphics and more. German full-service event provider GAHRENS + BATTERMANN (G+B) specializes in pushing the boundaries of these technological developments to help clients deliver memorable in-person, virtual and hybrid events. To do this, the company relies on a host of AJA technologies, including those geared towards UltraHD HDR workflows. Anticipating future demand for UltraHD HDR event production, G+B started building mobile 12G-SDI UltraHD HDR control rooms in 2019, but demand has just started to take off in recent months as events resume in person and hybrids, alongside the continued demand for virtual events.
Last fall, G+B deployed a mobile control room to livestream an IAA Expo press conference in Munich, Germany – with key overlays/filler for the lower thirds – for one of Germany’s best-known car brands. The project required a dedicated workflow including mixer and playback systems, as well as distributing the signal to six large LED screens at the client’s exhibition stand. Given the nature of the project, audio and video requirements and space restrictions, G+B relied heavily on mobile control room equipment to handle the job.
Pre-wired control racks, a professional production mixer and high-quality cameras run as standard in every unit, with high-quality signal conversion and distribution, analysis and recording technology essential to the design. “No project is the same, but conversion is always part of the workflow plan,” shared Daniela Böhmer, broadcast specialist at G+B. “This is especially true when working with various HDR standards and camera formats, which is why AJA FS-HDR has been an invaluable part of our mobile fleet; it makes cross-conversions and associated LUT processing easier. FS range is amazing in that it offers great flexibility; whether it’s de-/embedding audio or converting video, we can achieve so many different signals and formats in so many different ways .
G+B also uses FS-HDR to upscale/downscale/cross-convert four channels of 2K/HD across multiple projects and make 4K 12G-SDI productions for customers who need it. Daniela added, “UltraHD HDR live event production is still nascent, and many of the productions we work on are made in HD and SDR. However, every year the advanced formats are growing in popularity, especially as the industry begins to see their potential. Over time, as the cost of equipment drops and implementation becomes more practical, we expect UltraHD HDR to become an industry standard, and having worked with it before, we are well positioned to this future reality.
In addition to using FS-HDR, G+B operates a range of AJA mini-converters in its mobile control room to support unexpected conversion needs that arise, such as a customer requesting a change requiring audio integration, or a filler key/power supply for lower thirds that require HDMI to SDI signal conversion. “We need to be ready to respond to last-minute customer requests, so we built the control rooms to support a variety of signal types and formats,” Daniela explained. “AJA gear has been helpful in this regard, providing high performance, reliable and cost effective conversion solutions to accommodate the changes.”
For image analysis, each mobile control room also includes an AJA HDR image analyzer, which allows the production team to visualize all important data of the attached video signal in a structured way. When pairing the camera, the team can seamlessly switch between different settings and views of the waveform representation to get the best possible image from the camera. However, no control room is complete without routing and recording equipment, for which G+B uses AJA KUMO 3232-12G compact SDI routers and Ki Pro video recorders.
“We like the compact and reliable nature of our KUMO, which makes it easy to replace faulty cables at any time. When we need to make changes on the fly, the web interface and adjustable control panel make it quick and easy,” Daniela noted. “The Ki Pro family has been part of our rental fleet for a long time. The Ki Pro GO, with H.264 USB drive recording, has been instrumental in accelerating file rotation for customers, with multi-channel HD recording and redundancy.
Several of G+B’s control room tools support 12G-SDI connectivity, helping the team transmit UltraHD signals over a single cable. Daniela explained, “Most projects last 3 to 14 days, without any existing infrastructure for signal transmission, so quad SDI technology just isn’t practical. That would mean four times the cables, more complex troubleshooting, and potential differences in runtime between individual cables. The single cable simplicity of 12G-SDI just makes it easier and more reliable for what we do, and thankfully AJA offers a range of 12G-SDI kits.
In the coming years, Daniela expects the demand for high-quality content production with video streaming to increase and is confident that G+B is ready to handle this future with its mobile UltraHD HDR control rooms.