Wrapping up its four-day run on June 10, the 2012 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was the most successful ever – with 150 music and comedy acts on 10 stages enjoyed by more than 80,000 happy campers, all gathered on a sweet patch of green pasture just outside of Manchester, Tenn.
The Bonnaroo Festival has come a long way since its humble beginnings 11 years ago, and for the past seven years NEP’s Trio Video has been along for the ride. As the festival’s provider of mobile video production facilities and services, Trio has grown together with Bonnaroo.
Recently acquired by NEP, Trio Video has been around since the early 1980s when we developed a working partnership with the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks that flourishes to this day. In the ensuing 30 years, we’ve built strong client relationships with many other sports outlets beyond Chicago, but our association with music and entertainment events really took root in 2005 when Trio was hired to capture 24p video for a cinematic production of U2’s Vertigo tour. In 2006, we were chosen to produce and supply technical support to our first webcast for Bonnaroo, which at the time was a one-stage production. All of Bonnaroo’s webcasts are executive produced by Third Wave Productions.
A Tapeless Workflow Innovator
For this year’s 10-stage Bonnaroo Festival, Trio Video provided four mobile units and 25 cameras that streamed 36 hours of HD content to the two Bonnaroo/YouTube webcast channels, sponsored by Dell and AMD Computer products. In addition to the webcasts, we also provided a private festival network that delivered eight channels of video content to sponsored VIP tents, trailers and administration compounds.
Continuing an innovation we began with the 2011 Coachella festival, our client leveraged our experience in sports broadcasting and resulting insights about tapeless workflows to bring dramatic time and cost savings to a world that has traditionally run on tape. Virtually all Bonnaroo content was recorded directly onto hard drives already integrated into the NEP Trio Video trucks. The trucks, equipped with EVS IP Director systems and XT2 and XT3 replay machines, supported a substantially more efficient workflow, eliminating ingest, providing non-linear access for edit, and allowing extremely flexible configuration of inputs and outputs.
Although a couple of bands (and their managers) were not quite ready to give up a process on which they had relied on for many years, most of the Bonnaroo acts were sold once we demonstrated the capabilities and benefits of the tapeless workflow. We were able to record 18 channels of content onto four 8TB RAID hard drive systems, which could be plugged directly into Apple systems for editing in Final Cut Pro (FCP) or Avid without requiring time-consuming ingest or tape transfers. Not only does this cut production costs by 75 percent, but it’s a huge time savings that means large quantities of content can be made immediately available for distribution, webcast, or broadcast. For instance, the on-site FCP editor can immediately begin working Sunday night to create a weekend highlights compilation that can be distributed to the music industry press Monday morning.
Covering the Waterfront: Sports and Entertainment
This type of innovation, capitalizing on the synergies of sports and entertainment production, is why NEP’s Trio Video is at the center of the U.S music festival calendar. In addition to Bonnaroo, this year we’re covering Coachella in California, Lollapalooza in Chicago, Metallica’s’ Orion Fest in Atlantic City and the Austin City Limits Festival in Texas.
Although Web streaming is not a new phenomenon in the world of live music festivals, NEP’s Trio Video took the concept to new heights at the 2011 Coachella event. That event, which has been called the most complex and sophisticated live concert stream ever executed with more than four million separate hits to YouTube, truly put Trio on the map for mobile entertainment production.
With these accomplishments, NEP’s Trio Video has put to rest the notion that sports truck companies aren’t the best fit for entertainment production. In any given week, we might find ourselves wrapping up a multi-day music festival one night only to be back in Chicago to cover a Bulls game two nights later. It’s this flexibility that has made Trio the go-to provider of video services for North American music festivals and many other entertainment events throughout the year.
Peter Kimball is a Senior Account Manager for NEP’s Trio Video.