UpChord Music Moves Its Courses Online Using ATEM Mini Pro

Founded in 2016, UpChord Music is dedicated to providing professional music production training, including music composition, arranging, scoring and sound design for those who want to be music professionals.

UpChord is unlike traditional music training, where the teacher plays the keyboard and not every student can see his or her fingering and the teacher cannot write musical notes on the blackboard for students while he is improvising on the piano. UpChord uses their in house developed system, JoyChord, to address these issues, which captures the teacher’s fingering, converts it to musical notes and shows the notes on screens, all in real time.

“We didn’t offer online classes until we were asked by Shanghai Theatre Academy in 2019 to teach their students music performance, because we didn’t want to spend too much time frequently traveling between Shanghai and Beijing,” said Zhicheng Wang, founder of UpChord Music.

When moving the class online, UpChord’s biggest concern was how to ensure the quality of online classes would be as close to that of offline classes as possible. “Online classes are not simply online video chat. As a professional music training facility, we need to show our students 1080p HD with high quality stereo sound and low latency interaction, which wouldn’t be possible with only a smartphone or webcam.”

With help from alumni of Communication University of China, where most of the graduates are professionals in the film and broadcast industries, Wang built up an online teaching system by combining his JoyChord system with a video switcher.

“The first video switcher we used cost more than USD $15k and supported up to 1080i60. But we found that interlaced video didn’t meet our demand because the lines in musical notation look shaky in interlaced format. We worked out a solution to this issue but soon we found it made musical notation look nasty. Therefore, we started looking for a better switcher capable of 1080p HD.”

“We also wanted it to be as compact as possible because we wanted to put it in a flypack so we would be able to take it anywhere when doing presentations at different colleges and schools. We chose Blackmagic Design’s ATEM Television Studio HD, which supported 1080p and was so compact that it, together with the HyperDeck Studio Mini, only took up one rack unit.”

“When the ATEM Mini was announced, it went beyond what I knew about how compact a professional switcher could be. Also, what impressed me most was its ability to convert and sync sources automatically, which was very friendly to beginners. They just need to connect the cables and the ATEM Mini will take care of all the rest. Also, its audio mixer is powerful. So, we bought it without hesitation.”

The new ATEM Mini Pro caught his attention again when launched this April, which came with new features such as hardware streaming, h.264 recording and multiview. “We incorporated it into our workflow too. The way of operating is identical to that of operating the original ATEM Mini. When I gave it to our teachers who had been streaming with the ATEM Mini, they soon got familiar with the new model.”

“Both of the models allow us to save presets including the streaming and picture in picture setups, simplifying our workflow.”

For a typical UpChord online class, three feeds are used, which include the DAW’s user interface, the JoyChord interface made up of a virtual keyboard and real time generated music notation and a live camera feed that captures the keyboard the teacher is playing going into a video processor, which then stitches the three feeds together. The stitched video and a live feed of the teacher on a green screen are then sent to the ATEM Mini Pro, where the teacher’s video is imposed on the stitched image using the switcher’s chroma keyer, while a channel logo is overlaid with a downstream keyer.

Stereo audio is embedded into the HDMI feeds and the teacher’s voice is picked up by a mic as mono sound and goes into the ATEM Mini Pro via the Mic input.

The program goes into a computer that is running ZOOM via USB-c, which allows for stereo audio and HD video, as well as real time interaction.

“With this online teaching solution built with the ATEM Mini Pro, when the coronavirus outbreak forced most of training facilities to halt their classes, we were able to move our courses completely online immediately. Live streaming has also helped us break down geographic barriers, allowing more excellent teachers around the world to join us via the Internet and bring our students more diversified high quality content!” Wang concluded.

$20 for a tablet tripod mount and $9 for the BEST Teleprompter software. Bargain! (And model trains too!)

You may remember back about February last year I waxed lyrical about a program called Teleprompter Pro?


This is a Windows app that costs a miserable AUD$9 from the Microsoft store and is everything you’d want in a pro teleprompter system plus a few bells and whistles more.


The one drawback I found with it was actually nothing to do with the programme itself, but more how to set it up to be eminently usable in terms of the hardware needed.

I use a Microsoft Surface Go, and it works brilliantly on this; my issue is setting up the Go in such a way that you are looking directly at the camera with the software running underneath.

I got by with various options – a stool with a few old Yellow Pages (‘member them?) to raise the Go up to just underneath the lens and propped on a book reader stand was the most successful. But it didn’t quite look the part, and looks are everything in the video biz don’t you agree?

Today with an hour to spend, I did some digging around for ways to mount a tablet to a tripod I could place next the Panasonic PV100 and Sennheiser MKE 600 mic I use on the main Manfrotto tripod. (Film professional Steve Turner did an excellent review of this camera here)

Amazon has a stack of ‘em ranging around the $30 mark on average, but I really wanted to buy local all things considered, with the economic climate, people in the industry out of work and all that sort of stuff.

So we were back to the UnHoly Trinity of JB HiFi, OfficeWorks and Harvey Norman (I knew JayCar didn’t carry anything along these lines as I have their cattle-dog which is well worth the $5 by the way. An’ no, they don’t pay me, but they should).

After recent attempts to buy things and finding the on-hand stock levels showed by these companies on-line often lied through its teeth, a short drive to town was warranted as all of these businesses are within spitting distance of each other. Apparently, Kmart also carried such a beast but all stores in local WA showed out of stock so that looked like a discontinued item to me so didn’t bother there and anyway, they are miles away..

But tromping from one store to the next drew blank. Nil stock everywhere or we don’t carry anything like that.

To cheer myself up, I thought I’d take a small detour to ToyWorld.

Last year we did a story on UK videographer Doug Wilson who builds model train sets and then uses very clever masking in Vegas Pro 17 to set them inside a real world. Using composite video captured from GoPros attached to the trains and carriages, we then get some fantastic imagery that is hard to discern from the real thing.

Check it out here

I have been thinking for a while about doing something similar as back in the UK in the 60s we had a monster Hornby 00 train set, and ToyWorld had some starter kits I wanted to look at.

This took me past the local CameraHouse and bugger me, on the counter was the very thing I was after, albeit attached to a very expensive $400 tripod!

$20 later (plus another $49 for an el cheapo tripod to mount it on permanently, and I had solved my problem as you can see.

Give Away:

Phil Littlewood the creator and developer of Teleprompter Pro has just given me 3 licences to give away! All you need do is install the trial version and then email me at david@auscamonline..com  what the latest version number is. If you also subscribe to our free e-magazine and newsletter via the pop up you see, you get TWO bites at winning!

Here  is also a video tutorial on using Teleprompter Pro  

What if you need an extra Ethernet port? There is another way!

The addition of the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro to my desktop armoury of gadgets caused a wee bit o’ a problem.

In a sort of good way.

You see, although our internal network is based around a DLINK Python DSL-2888 and is mostly wireless based, where my office and studio is located at the other end of the house is in a minor black spot. I do get a signal, but it is not the fastest by any stretch of the imagination.

Consequently I run a long ethernet cable through strategic holes and over doors to make a wired connection and all as they say, is then tickety-boo.


To take full advantage of the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro, you should connect it to your PC, via , you guessed it, Ethernet. And there ain’t no Wi-fi option (yet).

Because the Dell desktop I use (an XPS 8920) only has one Ethernet port, this caused, whilst not a major issue, a bit of an inconvenience. And I hate being inconvenienced!

The solution was obvious. Add another Ethernet port to the PC via an el cheapo card. But I explored a bit of lateral thinking here and came up with an idea.

What if in the future I wanted to add the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro to a laptop for an on-the-road job? Or a million other possible scenarios that sprung to mind?

So I did a bit of digging via my circle of expert contacts (I am not strong on networking) and was advised by those that Know These Things a USB 3.0 -> Ethernet adaptor was a Real Thing.

A quick Google search around the possible Bunbury stores to sell one showed the usual suspects (Officeworks, JayCar, Harvey Norman) were all out of stock – no doubt attributed to the current work-at-home thing and a rapid uptake on such devices accordingly (have you tried to buy a decent printer lately?),

That left JB Hi-Fi who I ordinarily do not like dealing with as I personally find their service in-store service  – or lack thereof – and product knowledge, bloody appalling.

And proven right when at the front door 20 minutes later and asking for my new toy (made my DLINK incidentally – a DUB 1312), the staff member directed me to the row of monster TV sets on display and said “if we have any of them they would be over there among the TVs”.


Anyway, in the miniscule networking section was a single small box labelled “USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adaptor”, so I had my solution. For $58. More expensive than a cheapie card sure, but infinitely more flexible.

It did require a couple of goes of installing the drivers off the supplied CD and a subsequent couple of reboots of the PC, but this is not totally unexpected from my long experience of these things,ac and eventually the LEDs coughed into life and we had contact.

And my inconvenience has gone. Hurray!

Not directly video but might be useful …

Just recently I have been getting a lot of “Resolving Host” issues in Google Chrome. And it was driving me mad, slowing everything to a crawl.

I tried all the usuals of rebooting, flushing caches and running the freebie WiseCare 365 app (which is excellent by the way) but to no avail.

For the uninitiated, this error occurs  in the “translation” of the textual web address you have typed into your browser (Chrome / Firefox / Edge etc) or clicked, to its native IP address, and is performed by a gizmo called a DNS server, usually hosted by your ISP.

If this sever’s info is out of date, or running slow, the browser gives the “Resolving Host” error due to the time it is taking.

My fix was to change the DNS server information stored in my modem / router (a DLINK Python DSL-2888 which has bee brilliant just quetly) from my ISP (IPSTAR) to those held by OpenDNS, a company who specialises in this stuff and is owned by networking gurus Cisco Systems (it’s free by the way).

If you know how to get into the guts of your modem to get to the setup information, just change the Primary and Secondary settings to :


and Bob’s your uncle as they say.

If you don’t simply Google your modem’s brand name and model number and make a request like:

“DLINK DSL-2888 Change DNS Setting”

And 9 times out of ten there will be a simple walk through like the one I used at:


As I said, this post is not directly video oriented, but hope it is useful to someone!

“Avatar” Sequels Using Blackmagic Design Kit

Lightstorm Entertainment used an extensive array of Blackmagic products, including the Teranex AV, Smart Videohub 40×40 12G, ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K and more for their recent work during production for the “Avatar” sequels.

Known for cutting edge filmmaking techniques since its inception, James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment has always been at the forefront of new technology. With titles such as “The Terminator,” “The Abyss” and “Titanic,” the company has never allowed limitations in technology to stop the telling of powerful stories.

With the release of “Avatar” in 2009, the company once again proved that there were no limits in filmmaking. The results were breathtaking, and the audiences agreed. “Avatar” would gross over $2 billon worldwide, and lead to the announcement of multiple “Avatar” sequels.

But just as the story of the Na’vi will evolve in the sequels, so will the technology behind the films. A key element is the ability to evaluate content as it’s being shot, rather than waiting until post production. “We evaluate live camera feeds in a manner as close to the theatrical experience as possible, so we can make real time decisions on set,” said Geoff Burdick, Senior Vice President of Production Services & Technology for Lightstorm Entertainment. “This saves time during shooting, benefits Weta Digital, our visual effects vendor, and helps streamline our post production and mastering process.”

This necessitated the need to view live feeds from multiple 3D camera systems, simultaneously. “In the past, we viewed live and playback material in 3D HD at 24fps,” said Burdick. “Now, we acquire at 4K 3D, and feed through our pipeline at various resolutions and frame rates.” These include 3D 48fps in 2K and 4K, 3D 24fps in 2K and 4K, and 3D 24fps in HD.

Blackmagic Design provided a unique and comprehensive product set that allowed for numerous solutions throughout the pipeline. “It was very challenging for our engineering team to come up with a signal path to enable this workflow,” said Burdick. “Not many companies had incorporated this kind of support in their products. Luckily, Blackmagic Design stepped up to the plate.”

The key to the workflow was creating seamless viewing and playback, despite the massive amount of data necessary. “When incorporating new formats and techniques,” said Burdick, “it’s critical that we don’t cause a delay or disruption for any department.”

Having the ability to review multiple resolutions and frame rates in real time allowed the team to remain in step with issues that may have gone unnoticed before, only to be found later in post. “This is very important as we move into shooting higher resolutions, frame rates and dynamic ranges, with lenses that are resolving details we are not used to seeing and projector technologies capable of displaying all this and more to the discerning movie goer.”

While Blackmagic Design played a critical role at many points along the path, one of their simplest products became a production workhorse. “What appeared to be a mundane piece of equipment, the Teranex AV, did much of the heavy lifting for us,” says the Lightstorm team. The Teranex family allowed for a hybrid HD 24fps/4K 48fps workflow onset. “Without these products, we would not be able to perform the necessary real time conversions and image transforms our process demands. Having the ability to mix and match key pieces of equipment and having support for non standard formats across a very deep product line throughout our R&D and production process would allow us to see what was possible very quickly.”

And in the end, how did this affect production? Not at all, which was the goal at the start. “At the end of the process,” said Burdick, “these technologies were invisible to the creative teams on set.”

Interactive YouTube Game Show Quizuna Relies on ATEM Mini Pro for Live Streaming

The ATEM Mini Pro live production switcher is being used to power the recently premiered interactive talk and quiz show, “Quizuna.” The show, which is the first of its kind on YouTube in Japan, is hosted by Japanese Hollywood actress Ikumi Yoshimatsu and airs several times a week on her YouTube channel, “Ikumi’s Voice.”

The idea for the show emerged when Yoshimatsu and her partner and producer at RIM Entertainment, Matt Taylor, were quarantined in Tokyo. The duo decided to create a live talk and quiz show that would allow viewers to interact and feel connected with others in an entertaining and educational environment. “Quizuna,” inspired by the Japanese word “Kizuna” which means “to bond,” features live remote interviews with prominent figures from around the world covering current topics followed by a viewer participated quiz. Winners are sent gifts and care packages.

“When we started thinking about the gear needed to make this show happen, we knew a powerful live production switcher would be required,” said Taylor. “After doing our research, we determined the ATEM Mini Pro was the perfect solution because of its features and affordable price. Exactly ten days after we unboxed the ATEM Mini Pro, we were able to go live with our first show. That’s how easy it was for us to use.”

“I’ve worked on similar projects in the past, but the tools made me a little bit nervous because the reliability wasn’t always there. However, with the ATEM Mini Pro and the powerful ATEM Software Control, I don’t have to worry about stability at all,” added Taylor. “The flexibility of streaming the show directly from the ATEM Mini Pro via Ethernet or pushing it out via the USB output depending on what segment we’re working on is remarkable. Additionally, the ATEM Software Control and multiview are truly incredible.”

The ATEM Mini Pro’s ability to directly record the streams proved essential for “Quizuna’s” workflow.

“Being able to directly record camera inserts and add them in ad hoc has made production extremely efficient. I can switch in elements that I’ve pre edited, as well as ones that I edit in real time during the show,” noted Taylor. “Conducting live remote interviews in different languages sometimes requires retakes on the fly for a quick edit or insert. With the ATEM Mini Pro, I’m able to stop an interview mid conversation, record a correction and get it punched in before anyone even notices since we have a very short delay window.”

With very limited space and resources, the ATEM Mini Pro’s compact size and design also proved extremely helpful. “We are able to plug three cameras and one MacBook Pro directly into the four standards converted HDMI inputs and stream out uninterrupted without needing additional converters and adapters,” added Taylor.

While still in Tokyo, “Quizuna” continues to gain momentum for Taylor and Yoshimatsu.

“Once we’re able to fly home to Los Angeles, I’m excited to use the ATEM Mini Pro for future projects, some of which will be even bigger productions,” Taylor concluded. “The more that we’ve used the ATEM Mini Pro to live stream ‘Quizuna,’ the more I’ve realized how powerful it truly is!”

Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks and DaVinci Resolve Studio Cut Page Used for Into the Mist Tabletop Gaming Series

Blackmagic Design today announced that RealmSmith.tv is using its products to live stream the hit tabletop gaming series “Into the Mist” on Twitch, and using DaVinci Resolve Studio’s cut page to quickly edit each show’s highlights for YouTube.

RealmSmith.tv is a Toronto, ON based live streaming and tabletop gaming company, and “Into the Mist” features improvised live play of Dungeons & Dragons’ “Curse of Strahd” campaign setting. Jason Azevedo, founder and president of RealmSmith.tv, acts as Dungeon Master alongside weekly players gathered around an immersive table setup, where players and viewers are made to feel they are part of the game experience. Joel Augé, co owner of RealmSmith.tv, manages all aspects of the stream’s production and workflow.

When RealmSmith.tv embarked on “Into the Mist,” they decided to produce the show as a multi camera live stream to keep viewers entertained throughout the episodes. They initially invested in an ATEM Television Studio HD live production switcher, two Blackmagic Micro Cinema Cameras and two Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks to achieve a more cinematic feel. They later incorporated two additional Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks so they could further enhance the experience by capturing more camera angles.

“While a lot of live streams are based on a single, frontal view where players call in from their own homes with webcams, we wanted ‘Into the Mist’ to show everyone in the same room with multiple camera angles and proper lighting,” said Azevedo. “We really separate ourselves by having such a professional, cinematic look to our live streams.”

Two of the Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks are set up to capture front shots, one pointing at the Dungeon Master and the other to capture a wider shot of the entire table of six players. The other two Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks are used on either side of the table, looking across and over players’ shoulders.

Additionally, RealmSmith.tv uses an ATEM Television Studio HD to switch between the cameras and to map out sequences of camera changes and animations. Since starting their live stream in a garage just two years ago, having gear like the ATEM Television Studio HD has helped keep RealmSmith.tv’s stream professional, regardless of the physical location they are shooting.

“The ATEM Television Studio HD is the brain of the live stream,” explained Augé. “Without it, we wouldn’t be able to do title shots on the fly and switch a dynamically produced live show at home.”

When the team has to stream remotely, Augé uses a Blackmagic Web Presenter to power his workflow from home. “It’s been a workhorse for when we’ve had to adapt our normal workflow and stream the series remotely, helping us deliver a high quality stream even when battling lower bandwidth situations,” said Augé.

Following each week’s three hour live stream, which airs on Dungeons & Dragons’ and RealmSmith.tv’s Twitch channels, RealmSmith.tv uses DaVinci Resolve Studio’s cut page to create a recap for the beginning of each show on their respective YouTube channels.

“We go through the full stream the day after a show goes live and highlight markers and times in the episode that we want to emphasize in the recap, and then pass that on to the editor,” said Augé. “He then takes the live stream files and brings them into DaVinci Resolve Studio’s timeline, using the cut page to edit together the recap.”

Being able to see the full three hour gaming session on the cut page’s timeline allows RealmSmith.tv to navigate as quickly as possible from one cut to the next.

“Essentially, three hours of game play is cut down to about three minutes for the recaps. Using the cut page’s streamlined editing workflow allows us to quickly turn around the content, so we can post it to YouTube as soon as possible. Without DaVinci Resolve Studio, it would be a much longer process and we’d have significant lag time between the live streams and final videos,” explained Augé.

RealmSmith.tv also used DaVinci Resolve Studio to create the popular intro to the “Into the Mist” series, an animated sequence that reveals each player, blending together their real life selves with their characters. The team relied on the edit page’s Retime Curve tool to create the dramatic effect of smoke going through the characters during the intro. They then modified the video’s speed by mapping out different segments of audio with markers and then timed the video clips to the music.

“Like any small business, budget is very important to us. Having affordable, feature rich gear that delivers great cinematic quality like the Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks and DaVinci Resolve Studio made Blackmagic Design perfect for us from the start,” concluded Augé.

Live Streaming Wonders Of The Sea: Sea Life And Panasonic X2000 Bring Virtual Aquarium Into Australian Homes

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium has teamed up with Panasonic to live stream some amazing sea creatures – allowing viewers to experience marine magic in  high definition from the comfort of their home.

Sea Life are using the Panasonic X2000 video camera to create a virtual aquarium – live streaming a diverse range of appealing marine and terrestrial life, via their Facebook page.

With an audience of over 127,000 SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium sought to brighten up newsfeeds and educate fans both young and old – from watching fascinating animals get fed, to spontaneous moments such as a dugong getting a belly rub, or taking advantage of the opportunity to listen to expert aquarists and have questions answered live on video.

Richard Dilly, General Manager, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, explained: “We may have temporarily closed our doors to the public – but we wanted to give people a closer experience than ever before, whilst also providing families who are stuck indoors, with resources, materials and fun topics to talk about. Working with Panasonic, we are able to bring the vibrant underwater world to life on screens big and small around Australia. We are thrilled that our viewers can dive into our world and enjoy uninterrupted, professional quality live streams at the click of a button.”

The most popular content so far has been the penguin live stream aired in the first week of April which has now received over 100,000 views and around 3,000 comments. Overall, Facebook followers have increased by 35 per cent since live streaming began.

Panasonic X2000: Takes care of streaming while SEA LIFE does what they do best

Powering the stunning underwater display is Panasonic’s X2000 video camera, a convenient, ‘plug and play’ solution for SEA LIFE. The camera is able to connect to Wi-Fi and directly live stream content online in HD quality, without the need for extra equipment. Other features perfect for live streaming include 4k recording, compact size, high resolution audio, a wide – angle + zoom lens and precision face detection.

The professional technology is a hit for SEA LIFE staff, allowing them to focus more on animal interaction and less on technical issues.

Emma Malik, Supervisor – Animal Training & Guest Interaction, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, said: “Lighting and poor sound quality are two  big issues we have when filming in the

aquarium. Having a professional set up like Panasonic’s X2000 has meant we are able to produce better quality live streams then just using our mobile phones. ”

“I’m terrible with technology so for me to successfully use this camera the first go is a win in my eyes. It’s simple to use and the zoom lens allows us to capture amazing detail and unplanned moments – whether it be penguins calling in the middle of the str eam or a turtle spraying water out of his nostrils directly into the camera!”

Emma added: “What’s rewarding is getting to show the public our animals and what we do in real-time. Importantly, it’s nice to know that we are bringing a little bit of magic into people’s lives in these uncertain times.”

Following the success of the live streams, SEA LIFE has also launched Tank TV – a 24-hour live stream using Panasonic’s AW-UE4 pan-tilt-zoom camera which can be moved to showcase different areas of the aquarium. The aquarium has been thrilled by the response, which allows the guests to connect at any time for experiences such as the ‘Day and Night on the Reef’ exhibit. This camera was also simple to install and was up and streaming within a day.

Scott Mellish, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Imaging, Panasonic, expanded on the growing live streaming trend: “We’re delighted to partner with SEA LIFE to deliver a solution that not only meets the challenges of changing times, but can also offer new value and grow an audience. Live streaming technology today can provide superior quality visual and audio experiences as well as being highly flexible for a number of business applications – from education and training sessions of all kinds to taking immersive museum and exhibition experiences into the office or home.”

An agile solution for changing times

On a business level, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium was aware of the importance of remaining front of mind and using new and innovative methods to do so. They had previously looked into streaming, but renewed focus when it became apparent that for some time they would be unable to do what they did best – give customers amazing, in person experiences at the aquarium.

With aquarium curators having little video experience, Panasonic worked with SEA LIFE remotely during installation to host video training and provide tips and tricks for camera use and was on call to handle any tech questions.

Richard Dilly added: “With the new live stream, we are striking a balance of different creatures, marine and terrestrial – from penguins to turtles to sharks to coral reefs so that our guests can learn about the diverse environment… that said we certainly haven’t shied away from some of the less serious content, like our dugong, Pig, getting a belly rub!”

Response to the streams has been impressive, often exceeding 33,000+ views. With such an engaged audience, SEA LIFE is taking the opportunity to respond directly to guests’ questions, either live on video or by comment later in the day.

Having seen the benefits in terms of reach, Richard Dilly expects live streaming will continue even when the aquarium re-opens its doors: “The ability to live stream has been massively engaging not only for our guests, but also for our teams – we’ve been telling our aquarists for years that they are the stars of the show, and all of a sudden they’re hitting internet fame talking about their favourite subjects! We have found a new medium and a new way of achieving our purposes – you can’t come to us? No worries, we’ll come to you!”

To catch the next live stream from SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and Panasonic head to: https://www.facebook.com/sydneyaquarium/.

Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World

Blackmagic Design today announced that the stunning new 8K 3D documentary “Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World,” produced by Facebook’s Oculus, was edited, graded and stitched with DaVinci Resolve Studio and Fusion Studio.

In April of 2017, world famous climber Ueli Steck died while preparing for climbing both Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse without the use of bottled oxygen. Ueli’s close friends Jonathan Griffith and Sherpa Tenji attempted to finish off this project while award winning VR director and alpine photographer Griffith captured the entire story.

Over the course of three years, Griffith shot footage following Tenji and some of the world’s most accomplished climbers on some of the world’s most extreme locations. The series also includes footage that lets viewers witness what it is like to be engulfed in a Himalayan avalanche, cross a crevasse and staring deep in its depths, take a huge rock climbing fall, camp under the stars and soak in the view from the top of the world.

Griffith worked with a veteran VR post production expert Matthew DeJohn for editing and color correction, VR stitching expert Keith Kolod and Brendan Hogan for sound design.

“It really was amazing how a small crew was able to get all of this done. The collaboration between myself as the cameraman and Matt and Keith was a huge part of being able to get this series done and done at such as a high quality,” said Griffith.

Matt and Keith would give suggestions on how to capture for VR, how camera wobbling impacted stitching, how to be aware of the nadir and zenith in each frame and to think about proximity issues. The efficient post production process helped in letting us focus on what was needed, and I am incredibly happy with the end result. Everyone on the project worked above and beyond, and the results show.”

DeJohn was tasked with bringing together a huge amount of footage from a number of different high end camera systems.

A VR project usually has different teams of multiple people for editing, grading and stitching, but with DaVinci Resolve, Keith and I handled everything,” DeJohn said. “DaVinci Resolve is ideal for VR post. The fact that every tool I needed was in a single app made the entire process efficient and cost effective. So much time was saved simply by just having to switch apps with a few mouse clicks instead of shutting down the process by moving files from one system to another.”

For editing, DeJohn used DaVinci Resolve Studio to cut the series at 2Kx2K, relinked to 8Kx8K source and then change the timeline resolution to 8kx8K for final color and rendering. He used the Fairlight audio editing tab for its expanded toolset which allowed him to make fine adjustments, manage different narration takes with audio layers, and manage varied source files such as mono narration, stereo music, and 4-channel ambisonic spatial audio.

With color correction, I used Resolve to ensure we kept and honest look throughout and to make that look consistent across various camera systems and shooting conditions.

VR forces you to be real, and I used DaVinci Resolve to keep every scene realistic because any hint of oversaturation or an unnatural grade would ruin the VR experience,” he continued. “I colored the project from the very first edit so when it came to finalize the color it was just a process of touching things up.

Fusion Studio was used for stereoscopic alignment fixes, motion graphics, rig removal, nadir patches, stabilization, stereo correction of the initial stitch, re-orienting 360 imagery, viewing the 360 scenes in a VR headset and controlling focal areas. More intense stitching work was done by Kolod using Fusion Studio.

Kolod, explained: “Every shot in this type of production is a VFX shot and I relied on Fusion. It is better, faster and more affordable. The render time is much faster and the seamless integration with the rest of post is incredibly efficient.

Footage of such an extreme environment, as well as the closeness of climbers to the cameras, provided unique challenges for Kolod who had to rebuild portions of images from individual cameras. He also had to manually ramping down the stereo on the images north and south poles to ensure easy viewing, fix stereo misalignment and distance issues between the foreground and background and calm excessive movement in images.

“A regular fix I had to make was adjusting incorrect vertical alignments, which create huge problems for viewing. Even if a camera is a little bit off, the viewer can tell,” Kolod said. “The project used a lot of locked off tripod cameras, and you would think that the images coming from them would be completely steady. But a little bit of wind or slight movement in what is usually a calm frame makes a scene unwatchable in VR. So I used Fusion for stabilization on a lot of shots.”

“High quality VR work should always be done with manual stitching with an artist making sure there are no rough areas. The reason why this series looks so amazing is that there was an artist involved in every part of the process, shooting, editing, grading and stitching,” he finished.  


Aputure Asia Live Streams With Blackmagic Design’s ATEM Mini and Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Blackmagic Design today announced that Aputure’s Asia office has been live streaming updates using an ATEM Mini video switcher and Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks. The live streams are shot from Aputure’s Singapore office and are aimed at staying in touch with their community and on new product developments.

Aputure, with offices in the US, Europe and Asia, is one of the fastest growing cinema technology companies, designing and specializing in lighting and lighting modifiers. Aputure’s Singapore office, their main office in Asia, recently started the new live stream, which can be seen on Facebook as part of the public Facebook Aputure Asia User Group.

The stream, which began in March and is hosted by Aputure’s Asia Pacific Marketing & Sales Director Jimmy Lim, takes place twice a week. One session is done in conjunction with Aputure US and is focused on Aputure Lighting Certifications, even including a weekly quiz where winners receive certifications and product. The second stream includes weekly guest directors, DPs, photographers and gaffer interviews, as well as discussion on wider camera work and lighting discussions and customer stories by Lim.

“Streaming is more important now than it has ever been. Brands should be staying in touch with customers, but also doing everything they can to keep the feeling of being a connected creative community going. That is what we are doing with these streams and the ATEM Mini and Pocket cameras let us do a high quality stream efficiently,” Lim said.

Each stream is manned by Lim and two other Aputure team members, one in charge of audio and external monitoring stream performance and the other for master control and onsite stream performance. Two Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks, one for a wide shot and one overhead for close ups, are switched live by the ATEM Mini, which also provides the ability for live picture in picture graphics. The overhead camera is fed into the ATEM Mini through a wireless transmitter.

For audio streaming, Deity Microphones lav or shotgun mics are fed directly into the Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks, which is also used to dial in audio signal strength. From there, the final switched feed is sent live over OBS streaming software.

“Aputure is known for our high quality products and our customers expect the very best. So the streams we are doing have to look good,” Lim said. “The Pocket 4K is a go to camera for serious filmmakers that we ourselves use on our product commercials and lighting tutorials for the Aputure 4 minute Film School. It is easy to set up anywhere we need, and we love the look it gives us.

The ATEM Mini worked quickly out of the box with OBS and allowed us to connect a range of devices with both wired and wireless options without any issues. It has a clear and concise layout of controls and gives us all of the options we need to switch both video and audio for the stream,” Lim finished.

Aputure products are available in Australia from Sydney based Kayell.