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Outfitting Toronto's Legendary Music Venues for Live Concert Streaming

Doug McKendrick, VP Production at Toronto's Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall discusses the pandemic-accelerated pivot to in-house production and streaming in Roy Thomson Hall, home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the role video is playing in the revitalization of the legendary Massey Hall.

In this interview, Doug McKendrick, VP Production at Toronto's Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, main performance venue for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, discusses his team’s recent acquisition and implementation of state-of-the-art 4K video production, recording, and streaming studio, combining installed PTZ cameras with a production workflow built largely around gear from Blackmagic Design. Gear used includes ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel, Teranex Mini Smart Panel, Blackmagic MultiView 16, Teranex, Blackmagic Audio Monitor 12G, SmartScope Duo 4K, HyperDeck Studio Pro, Smart Videohub, Blackmagic MultiDock, and Blackmagic Web Presenter.

Although McKendrick’s crew was already well along installing this new video before the pandemic hit, its implementation accelerated considerably when circumstances changed. Like virtually all performance halls in North America and throughout the world over the last ten months, Roy Thomson Hall has seen its entire slate of events cancelled or postponed as a result of pandemic restrictions, and has made a necessary pivot to audience-less performances streamed online.

Doug is also involved with an epic restoration project years in the making at Massey Hall, Canada’s most venerable theatre, legendary for Neil Young Live at Massey Hall and other classic shows. Like Roy Thomson Hall, Massey will be fully video production-ready when it returns as part of a multi-venue performance and recording complex when it opens later this year. We discussed the transition from their old ad-hocn approach concert recordings to the new workflow in their installed in-house production studio, how the pandemic has accelerated some plans and slowed down others, what it’s like working with a large symphony orchestra in an otherwise mostly empty hall under mandated social distancing, and what lies ahead for both venues.

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