The Best Way to Monitor On-The-Road

Wed, Aug 08, 2018

As a filmmaker, chances are you’ve worked on projects that require tons of movement, jumping from set to set or location to location. Whether you’re in a studio lot or on-the-go, these shoots require you to pack lightly so you can move at a moment’s notice. Any heavy equipment will just slow down the process.

But no matter the production, you’ll always need a monitor, and traditional monitors don’t make the best lightweight gear to lug around. Not only do you have to lay out cables and stands at every stop, but the more you move around, the more you have to keep track of. Basically, this is a pretty time consuming process. What’s the best alternative?

One Vote at a Time encountered this issue for their summer productions campaign, and found the perfect solution for lightweight monitoring on the road: smart monitoring.

Traveling Filmmakers

“One Vote at a Time is grassroots PAC run by a team of female filmmakers. Instead of being fueled by corporate giants, we’re supported by the contributions of ordinary citizens. We create digital campaign ads free of charge to candidates running for office around the country. This summer, we are headed into 10 states and aiming to create powerful content for 250 candidates. Our mission is to orient the filmmaking skills that we have cultivated in our careers towards the causes we care about. Starting with our elected officials.” - Mara Tasker, Producer for One Vote.

iOS/Android monitoring allows you to see the shot(s) from smartphones and tablets.

“We’re traveling to multiple states doing documentary-style run-and-gun shoots, so we need to keep our rigs as small as possible. Monitors cost a lot and take up space, so instead of using traditional heavy monitors, it made much more sense to use iPads instead.” - Lauren Guiteras, DP.

Beginning just this summer, Mara, Lauren and their teams have already traveled to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and New Hampshire, filming TV campaign ads for candidates running for a wide range of positions (State House, State Senate, State Supreme Court, Governor). Check out one of the videos here:

Directed by Sarah Ullman, Co-Founder & Executive Director at One Vote.

“The campaign videos we film are simple and straightforward, but because we want to be conscious of our time, the politician’s time, and our budget, it can get pretty hectic on our shoots. Not to mention that we’re traveling to these politicians’ hometowns and capturing them in multiple locations. It’s a challenge to make the most efficient use of our time,” said Lauren.

Monitoring On-the-Go

With the need for mobility, small crew and a low budget, One Vote can’t bring large monitors to their shoots. Instead, they choose a much more affordable and efficient solution: Serv Pros.

Serv Pros connect to any HDMI video source and broadcasts it out to up to 10 iOS/Android devices with the VUER app installed. By connecting to the same WiFi network as the Serv Pro, each mobile device automatically picks up the feed (less than 1s delay) and displays it on the screen, giving anyone a handheld monitor nearby.

Monitoring on iPad Pro. 

“There’s not enough room in our vehicle to carry a 17” monitor around, nor would it be practical to set that up everywhere we go. With the Serv Pros, we’re able to monitor with our iPads, which we are way easier to carry around than traditional monitors,” said Lauren.

Setup:

  • 2x Sony FS7
  • Angenieux EZ-1 & EZ-2
  • 2x Teradek Serv Pro
  • 1x Teradek Link
  • 3x iPad Pro

Lauren’s team used 2x Sony FS7s in the Texas shoot. Connected to each camera was a Serv Pro, which were themselves connected to the Teradek Link, a high-powered WiFi router designed for production sets. Link (or any WiFi router) is necessary to to monitor multiple cameras at the same time.

Also connected to the Link was the 3 iPad Pros the crew had. Using VUER, the Director, Producer and Lauren were able to monitor from their own devices.

Serv Pro sends video to up to 10 iOS/Androids.

“When our directors are working, we all need to be able to see what our DP is getting, with ease, from anywhere. That means the middle of a field, a farm, a fair. We can't constantly set up. We need to be able to move like a doc crew without sacrificing quality and this system really facilitates that. Even just for simple hero shots for B-roll, it allows us the freedom to move around,” said Mara.

“With VUER, I can tell my DP to follow a candidate as they go knock on doors and I can stay out of the way so they can feel more comfortable on camera since they're less used to it compared to normal actors. It let's my DP follow their movements in a natural and beautiful way while I can continue to look in on what they're capturing and toss out some ideas of how to reframe. More than anything, it gives us ease of access to that person's story and personality in the tight windows we have to try and capture them.”

By monitoring on tablets and being more efficient with time, the crew of One Vote is able to capture high-quality video and focus on telling a compelling story for their candidates.

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