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MixOne Soundstage: Audience-Less Shows with a Festival Feel

Sidelined from rock tours and festivals by the COVID-19 crisis, MixOne Sound put their gear, expertise, and storage space to use building a state-of-the-art soundstage designed to deliver festival-like livestreamed experiences with audience-less shows.

Gearing and Crewing

On the road or in the studio, Garcia has built his production kit around Blackmagic Design gear. At MixOne Soundstage, the MixOne crew shoots with Blackmagic URSA Broadcast and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 cameras, and switches and mixes shows with the ATEM Production Studio 4K Switcher and ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel, records ISO and Program feeds to the HyperDeck Studio Mini Recorder, and rounds out it rolling stock with a Blackmagic Audio Monitor 12G, a VideoAssist 7” 12G HDR Monitor/Recorder, and a Teranex Mini Audio to SDI 12G Converter (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2. The Blackmagic-based MixOne Broadcast Control Room

Garcia says the only challenging thing, production-wise, about moving from the road show to the soundstage was adding streaming to their live production workflow. “But honestly, with three pieces of Blackmagic hardware at that point, now it’s just plug and play,” he says. “So the challenge really wasn’t much of a challenge. It was a lot easier than it should have been, but I think that’s just because we already were doing IMAG for events anyway. We tried a few of their capture cards and now we're using the DeckLink 8K Extreme. It gives us four lines in, four lines out. That little unit was the only thing that we bought so we could get started immediately.”

The other advantage they had going in was a seasoned crew. “We have a team here of guys who have all toured for a living. We have a lighting guy who's been with more bands than you can count, an audio guy who's mixed everyone. If everyone does their job, they all connect and we hit play.”

Safety First

Distancing adds new wrinkles, as with any working crew these days, but “luckily, some of our guys live together,” Garcia says. “They’re roommates. We’re like a family here. So we kind of made this agreement: If we’re doing this, we’re together, but we can’t see other people, because what you do affects me. And if I get sick, we all get sick, and the whole business goes down. And obviously, you’ve got to keep your distance from the band. We’ll put up drum shields from time to time. If it makes them more comfortable, we are willing to do whatever we need to. We do the mask thing. Of course, we clean before and after every shoot. We cycle out microphones the same way, where we wipe down the microphone and we will not use the same microphone again tomorrow that someone sang into today. We’ll let it sit for a few days, just because we don't know what we don't know. So we just take it an extra step. I don’t even know how many artists have come through here, and not one issue, so I think our system is working.”

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In mid-December I spoke with MixOne Sound & Cinema Video Partner & Director of Film Kevin Garcia about the tentative return of live music as the pandemic continues, the challenges of streaming shows with hybrid (in-person and online) audiences, and the gear and techniques MixOne uses to deliver a unique experience to their online viewers.