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  • Writer's pictureSimon Hui

ValeFest 2018 – ScratchTV Mainstage Live Coverage Tech Blog

Updated: Mar 10, 2019

ValeFest is Europe’s largest student-run charity festival hosted by the University of Birmingham Guild Of Students Valefest society. They have been hosting its event for 14 years now and this year, they have an amazing line up including Little Comets, Marsicans, Only Shadow and more, with headlining act Fickle Friends.

I have been asked on behalf of ScratchTV in late March of a potential partnership with Valefest to cover the mainstage and providing a highlight video. As I have previous experience in Multicam production but never covered this scale of a live show before, I was up for the challenge and I believe the result was great!

The budget was Tight.

There is no question, although the festival needs a ticket to attend, the money involved in the show goes back into staging, sound, lights etc and all other goes to charity. but because we ‘ScracthTV’ is technically a addition to the festival, we have no financial support what so ever by the ValeFest Society. ever penny we put in for our live coverage comes from our own budget or support by other society like FirstTake society, thanks Fraser! (yes, Scratch TV is from BCU and we are covering a UoB event, it is definitely a first!). Afterall, we are still a student production, and if you don’t know, student production means low budget, low production value, but for this one, i would like to prove this theory wrong (well the low production value part, budget are still low), i have manged to pull some string and get a good enough budget so we can hire out a proper OB Van, additional Video stuff (MediaDog Birmingham, really helpful guys over there)  and some sound stuff from SSE (shoutout to them, they are really nice!). Not gonna lie, I am very proud on how low my budget is and still manage to get all the stuff I needed to run a proper show.

Finally some Technical stuff (stuff I’m interested in)


i have decided to run everything in 1080p50, as i mentioned above we have to provide a highlight video after and with double speed, we have greater flexibility in post if we ever needed it. But that provides the Ob company with a challenge as they have never run on 3G before, and with some Buggy Fiber Converter from Blackmagic. Me and the guys from the Ob company have to troubleshoot what is wrong because for some reason we are not getting any signal, SDI embedded audio is fine. we found out the BM product only do Level B instead our camera Level A signal, so to combat that we have decided to run HDMI to the converter in some of our cameras (unfortunately).

We have 6 cameras in total, we tried to match all the camera type but unfortunately, we are unable to match all of them because of the budget but we came up with a solution which I will talk about it later. So 2 shoulder rig on stage left right (Pansonic UX180 From Ob Company), 2 on Tracks doing dolly work (Sony Fs7 and Sony Z150 From Uni), 2 at Front of House (Panasonic UX180) doing General CU, MCU, WS etc… they are all timecode synced as we also recorded internally in 4K50P for Post Iso’s. The cable we ran to OB is roughly a mile long, including the Coms, Fiber, Multicore audio, MADI etc…

Camera Matching:

So with all the different kind of camera we had, we have to colour match all the camera or else every other camera we cut to will have a different colour which is no good! So for this show, we have 3 different camera type, the Ux180, the Z150 and the fs7. We got 4 ux180, 1 z150 and 1 FS7, me and Liam (which he owned the fs7 a great friend of mine who also help out) decided to colour all the camera to the one z150. The reason is the z150 is the weak link, the colour adjusting option is very limited compared to the other two. The ux180 on the hand has a comprehensive colour matrix that Liam can adjust to match up. last but not least, the good old fs7, which is the easiest the match because we can import Lut to the camera right? WRONG. Yes, FS7 does have lut, but because the camera has such a good dynamic range compared to the other two, we have to make quite a bit of adjustment to not only to the clour science but also Highlight roll off and shadow handling. Basically, we have to make a Tesla run like a ford fiesta…


Audio is a challenge as well (basically everything is a challenge when you got little to no budget), i have pushed out UNI to provide more funding onto hiring out a better audio desk, becaue audio is as important as Video! or else we will end up using x32  (first world problem), which is still nice but despite how many channels we have got ( 62 channel to be exact) the x32 will not cut it.

Size does matter:

Finding a suitable console to fit in our small OB Van with that many channels is like next to impossible. First i was looking at the QL1 casue the size fits perfectly, but realise the channel just doesn’t cut it, so i moved on to the CL1 but found out that close to no one in our area got a CL1 to hire. so on to another brand like Midas but nothing really Mets my requirement, finally, i have found the golden boy; The DIGICO SD11! over 100+ channels, MADI input local input/output and most importantly it is Small!

stuff that goes wrong:

MADI Stream. yes we are running a digital split from Front of House Desk which they are using a Midas Pro 2C, so if you are a sound tech person you would know Midas use their own protocol; AES50. so to convert they have to hire in the Dn9650 to convert from their AES50 signal to MADI for us (they are sending us the signal, we don’t have any return feed to them). we have checked everything and all working the day before with everything hooked up next to the FoH tent before we moved to the ob van 70 meters away. but when we come back the show day when we moved to the obvan suddenly we are not getting any signal what so ever… with 2 hours before show time and we are not getting audio, I know the grind is on. Troubleshoot it, researching on google/manual checking everything is right, clocking is right, and I am confused. finally i figured out why is it not working. I realise the Dn9650 Refused to send any signal until they have also received a MADI RX Stream back from our desk, even though we are not sending any signal and the dn are the clock master and our desk is slave to the Dn. the reason why i haven’t connect the TX–>RX to dn9650 is simply because we don’t have long enough BNC multicore, but after multiple T split bnc as coupler ( i know is janky, but hey you need to do what you gotta do, because show must go on) we finally manage to get it to work, which is such a relief.

After that the audio work flawlessly, nothing glitchy, as i am not the sound mixer but because the mixer herself never mixed on festival before, i have built some scene file for each band during my pre-program night the day before so it can get her started faster during showtime.

Audience Mic:

Capturing Audience emotion is a big part of Broadcast mix, without that the mix will be really dry. So 2 short shotgun for closer audience and 2 longish shotgun to the farther audience. also, I experiment with 2 sm58 in the middle downstage area for capturing the front of the crowd which actually work pretty well!

Audio equipment we have used:

Digico SD11i with stealth core 2

Klark Teknik Dn9650 AES50–>MADI

Analog Snake 8 ch

4 core Bnc Snake for MADI

2x Rode Ntg2

2x Sennheiser me66

2x Shure SM58

Video equipment we have used:

2x Sony z150 (one for backup)

4x Panasonic UX180

1x Sony fs7 (thanks Liam!)

1x OB VAN + stuff (remember is a VAN)

2x 4×4 StageDecks

Yup we did it, it was a tight fit (SSE people looking at us like wowww that’s impressive)

Camera Plan (i know is bad but yeah this give you a rough idea):

Fickle Friends with its confetti: (Feat. Liam using the FS7)

Show Ends at 11, defo an experience I will never forget!

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