MI8 - Multicamera Production made in Austria

The British "MI6" is well known for developing worlds most compelling tools - at least in the 007 movies. Now Austria's "MI8" tops that - at least in multicamera production with the new daily comedy show "Mitten im 8en" broadcasted by the ORF Austrian Broadcasting Cooperation.
This program, tells about life in Viennas most vibrant district, the so called „Josefstadt“ which is the 8th district. A studio size of around 1600 square meters, 100 people, and a state of the art post production and workflow are the heart of "MI8". 

The daily programm is shot in with a multi camera setup that is processed in a new way: from liveshoot to edit in a few seconds. Therefore, a workflow was created by Austrias leading freelance post production team, Christof Halasz  and Martin Novak. "We really wondered why nobody already did develop this ...“, Halasz states. "Getting around 100 multicamera shots every day done ready for editing takes some time, usually. But those times are gone, thanks to the setup."

The newly developed workflow is based upon some simple main ideas:
• Having a standard ingest system capable of recording 3 cameras (or more) while shooting
• Creating a simple naming convention that allows to identify each shot, take, tape and the relations.
• Generating a multicamera sequence of the live-edit right after the shoot takes place.
• An editing system which allows this kind of automating

Apple's FCP looked like the best choice, because of its XML features. The ingest system consists of 3 Apple XServes, recording the 3 cameras on to a XSan Raid .  An editor switches the cameras while shooting (according to script and director), like with a live-show.
"That´s not the only clue in this workflow, it´s way more complicated than it sounds", Martin Novak, MacGuru and Avid specialist, "but it´s still surprisingly easy to handle and maintain."

To bring ideas to reality Andreas Kiel from Spherico, a leading XML developer, and Bouke Váhl from VideoToolshed, developer of various advanced timecode tools, went on board.
The "liveCut" application - developed by Bouke Váhl - allows to capture the live edits directly to an EDL with up to eight cameras. With its powerful autosave function, it is nearly impossible to loose any edit or timing information -- "... the easy part was getting my dedicated hardware - controlling the switcher - connected to my custom software ..." mentions Váhl "... but getting everything 100% fool-proof without ever testing on the actual hardware used caused some headache." None of the developers ever met on location and all tests had to be done remote.
The EDL to XML "E2X" application from Spherico uses those EDLs created by "liveCut"  to create FCP XML multiclip sequences. The app is utilizing QT functions, OS X Spotlight search functions and the FCP 5.1.4 AppleEvent features to communicate directly with FCP. Kiel:  "It was quite tough to get things sorted, but finally the setup works like a charm ..."

The generated multicamera-sequence goes straight to the editors for the edit while directors can view all cameras in one single step, including the live edit (which is set up as fourth angle), just a minute after the shoot is done.
With a standard setup like it is used normally , tapes have to be digitized, clips have to be split, exported, reimported and then be grouped together. Description, scene, take have to be entered and bins have to be organized by an assistant to find the right scene to be edited into the right program.  All this would take quiet a while, as every editor will proof.

"This is the most efficient workflow we´ve ever seen. We definitively will use this way of production with all of our upcoming daily shows ...“ mentions Ulrich Wolkenstein, CEO of ACTMedia, Vienna, who brought the team together.

Here you can download a screen capture of the E2X workflow (no voice over)

Below some other screen shots:

Here the resulting FCP view:

For further information contact:

ACT Media TV-Produktionsservice GmbH
Ulrich Wolkenstein
Speisingerstraße 121-127
A-1230 Vienna, Austria

Christof Halasz
Guldengasse 11
A-1140 Vienna, Austria

Andreas Kiel
Nelkenstrasse 25
D-76135 Karlsruhe, Germany

Bouke Váhl
van Oldenbarneveltstraat 33
NL-6512 AS Nijmegen, Netherlands