CTV Chooses Axon Cerebrum Control for First Dates Hotel

Producer TwentyTwenty delivered reality TV show First Dates Hotel for Channel 4 using OB company CTV and using Axon’s Cerebrum control and monitoring platform to ensure the production ran smoothly.

Shot on location in the South of France and screened early in 2017, the production demanded control of a complex Ethernet workflow, including 80 remote cameras.

CTV already relies on Axon Cerebrum for major OB sports productions, such as The Open, where it enables crews to control and manage a huge number of external sources. Given the complex set-up for First Dates Hotel, which employed IP infrastructure to capture and manage the action remotely, the team again turned to Cerebrum.

The Cerebrum system managed IP camera control units, tally, UMD contribution and linked together the main broadcast equipment including the video router and two Lawo V-pro8 video processors. Eighty Panasonic fixed-rigged IP cameras throughout the hotel, with 18 robotic units located poolside, were controlled via twenty CCP-4200 42-button colored LCD 1RU panels. These high-density panels, a bespoke Axon design for CTV, simplified the workflow enabling all devices to be controlled from a user-friendly interface with flexible color-coding to navigate between the five main camera zones.

With a dedicated remote operator sat beside each of the three directors in the gallery, recording four cut streams (12 in total), directions could be given in real-time and the results made available immediately.

“Cerebrum’s speed and feature-set offered great creative opportunities for the directors on this production,” comments Richard Morton, Base Technical Supervisor at CTV OB. “They didn’t have the time or the inclination to take on the technicalities of the set-up but with Cerebrum, the director could talk through ideas with the operator beside him, who then recorded, configured and executed his directions in front of his eyes. They were really impressed by the freedom Cerebrum gave them and the whole vibe of the production was upbeat and positive as a result.”

For CTV’s engineering team working in a new Ethernet environment was also a positive experience. In a traditional hardware set-up, having to use the rig as a distributed system was a lengthy and costly exercise with miles of unsightly cable runs to manage. In this IP environment, the team reduced cabling on site and eliminated cumbersome kit in the rig, reducing a whole bay into a single server. Cerebrum provided control and back-end IP integration with camera switching into the server itself - simplifying the workflow with control of local network camera switches.

“We have had extensive experience working with Cerebrum in live sports and have complete confidence in the system in that environment,” says Morton. “In reality TV, directors face different creative challenges and need greater flexibility. Our close collaboration with Axon lets us proactively address those needs and gives us real competitive advantage. With Cerebrum at the heart of our operational set-up, CTV can provide our clients with an impressive, glossy and flexible front-end and the ability to manage productions seamlessly.”

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