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The Show Goes On with Brian Sheil and NewTek’s Flexible, Scalable TriCaster

Entertainment Services LA owner Brian Sheil recounts how the NewTek TriCaster enabled a smooth pivot to remote production for the annual BeachLife music festival

In February 2020, Brian Sheil was preparing for a number of events he’d been contracted to provide streaming video production services in the year to come. Sheil is the owner of Entertainment Services LA, and over the past decade he’s built a business helping live event producers get their content to more people through streaming video. Early in the calendar for his outdoor shows was the BeachLife Festival, a music fest that got away with its May dates by being located in sunny Redondo Beach, California.

The year before, Sheil had provided BeachLife Festival with the on-site workflow for a live video feed. At the heart of the setup was a NewTek TriCaster. He set up near the live events production team and they fed him footage of the event for the stream. Sheil, a Certified NewTek TriCaster Operator, was working the event as the lone director and content manager–editing and combining footage on the fly for the festival’s online broadcast.

“TriCaster gives one individual the power to do a lot in terms of production,” Sheil said. “We built out a very robust workflow there with TriCaster at the core.”

NewTek’s TriCaster line of live production systems is a central component to today’s ever-growing world of end-to-end, all-IP live video workflows. TriCaster provides live switching capabilities and live graphics offerings that work across a broad spectrum of productions–from keynote presentations to live broadcasts of multicamera events. TriCaster is also NDI native, meaning no lengthy SDI cable runs and no limits on video inputs.

“I was streaming performances from two stages for 13 hours a day, each day,” Sheil said. “It was an amazing event featuring Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, Jason Mraz, Ziggy Marley, and Blues Traveler.”

Sheil was also providing the real-time graphics work–adding the lower-thirds, full-screen titles, logos, sponsor inserts, and more. He mixed together multicam segments with video of the crowd and sponsored content. And, for three sunny days, the stream flowed to the festival’s social media channels in full-resolution HD video.

Sheil said the story, at that time, was “about what happens when you can truly harness the power of TriCaster.” The team behind the BeachLife Festival agreed, crediting the problem-free broadcast to both the TriCaster and Sheil’s mastery of the system.

He has built a successful–and growing–business around the live production system and his belief that he could help people’s creative dreams become tangible products. In fact, he loved the device so much, when it came time to name his son’s little league team, he named them “TriCasters” and had it printed on the jerseys.

Sheil had crafted the backbone for a successful system of producing live events for all clients–no matter the size or scale.

And then, the world changed.

Adapting to the Demand for a New Workflow

In March 2020, Sheil was looking at a new world for production. As social distancing and stay-at-home orders became the status quo, the prognosis for live events appeared dire.

“We obviously entered into a new way of thinking about events,” Sheil said. “We had to fundamentally change the way we think about them. We also had to change the way we worked on them.”

Sheil quickly devised a plan to alter the workflow he’d used successfully for years. And again, one of his earliest clients on the schedule was the BeachLife Festival.

“We set it up so we could connect with the talent using Skype, which is a native offering within the TriCaster environment,” Sheil said. “But the reality was, I was still using the same setup as before in many ways. I was sitting in my office, and still providing all of the directing, switching, and graphics from my on-site TriCaster. Hosts were interacting with musicians in real time using the multiple Skype channels, and musicians were still playing music, but it was from their couches and backyards.”

Sheil said TriCaster provides a high level of quality not only on the video side, but also in terms of audio. To enhance the audio component, he added a digital audio board to the workflow to de-embed the audio, equalize it, and reinsert it into the TriCaster to enhance the musical performances.

“It seems like it would be a big shift moving from live to remote,” Sheil said. “From a viewer’s perspective it is. There’s a difference there to be sure. But in terms of the production, we used basically the same build-out. That’s an incredibly flexible element that has kept business going for me, and for people working in live content.”

The New Standard

Sheil has been fielding an increasing number of calls since remote productions came into play. Potential clients from NBC Universal to the Democratic National Convention have inquired about his setup.

Some of that talk has already gone to production.

“We’ve recorded using this workflow for ‘America’s Got Talent’ with Terry Crews dialing in through Skype,” Sheil said. “I’ve gotten to work with Stevie Wonder, John Fogerty, Rick Springfield, Smokey Robinson, and Jeff Bridges on different fundraisers during this time. And more television shows will be reentering production–or they already have reentered production–because we were able to so quickly and easily adapt the live video workflow.”

Sheil says the versatility of TriCaster has helped him not only survive during an economically challenging time, but actively bring in new business.

“When this happened, we were able to quickly provide fundraisers a solution to help support the communities being impacted,” Sheil said. “It’s a good feeling, not just from a business perspective, but from the idea that I’m still helping people fulfill their creative visions during a difficult time. “

Sheil says production must fall back on an old adage during these times to ensure the creativity doesn’t get extinguished.

“The show must go on,” he says. “People still need music and entertainment, but they also still need to connect with their communities. We’ve been doing work that has supported COVID-19 relief, benefited children impacted by the transition to online learning, and worked with the Community Coalition for Racial Equity. This type of communication–the ability for people to spread their message and be heard–is absolutely critical right now.”

“I’m not surprised in the slightest that TriCaster has helped me shift so quickly to this new world of production,” Sheil said. “Choosing TriCaster as my area of expertise has been invaluable. The NewTek workflow has proven itself time and again over the past 20 years. And when the production workflow changed, it proved itself once again.”