Extrema Noir TV: live multicam from a driving car

At the end of 2016, we teamed up with the Extrema Noir winter music festival to take on the following challenge: to broadcast an hour-long interview via Facebook Live in a driving car, with a multicam program complete with on-air graphics and clip playout.

The host, Ben Roelants, was behind the wheel, while the guests took place in the passenger seat. These were DJ Amelie Lens, DJ Tofke, Peter Decuypere (Fuse, I Love Techno) and Bart Roman (We Can Dance), selected by Extrema Noir. All four are well-connected to the Extrema festival and made a name for themselves in the Belgian dance scene.

The ride takes them to places that were important to their career and artistic development. These include clubs and other venues, old record stores and more. Occasionally, an extra guest would even hop into the car to provide additional insights into the guest's life.

The guests also provided us with music clips, photos and videos that would be played during the ride and discussed by Ben and the guest.

To achieve this we used the following "chain":

  • 4 Marshall HD cams would capture video and 2 microphones would capture audio.
  • All signals ended up in a Broadcast Pix Roadie. In this studio-in-a-box solution, the program would be live compiled by a chief engineer sitting in the back seat, doing the live video mixing, audio mixing, keying in and out of graphics, while starting and stopping the video clips, music clips or photos.
  • The program out was connected to a LiveU 500 machine, containing 8 SIM cards and a steady stream of about 10 Gbs of data traffic, enough to broadcast a compressed HD stream. The advantage of the 8 SIM cards (of 3 different providers) is that in the usual urban context, you will always have at least a few connections, even when driving around and switching from cell to cell, as the antenna's of provider 1 are on a different position than the antenna's of provider 2 or 3.

This works and allows you to do multicam from a driving car. It is a pretty neat format.

But a lot of things didn't work. Here's a list of the things we learned:

  • Test, test, test and test. Although your technical chain seems to shrink as you operate it with only one man (with 4 eyes, 6 ears and 10 arms), it does not mean you have to check every part of this chain.
  • Your presenter becomes part of the technical team and thus needs to help out with the testing instead of spending all his time preparing the content for the show. You need to calculate this in your schedule.
  • Your video engineer becomes part of the creative team as he needs to do the mixing of video, audio, graphics and playout, as well as make artistic (director like) decisions at the same time.
  • Intercom with home base is indispensable.
  • Fill in your Facebook data (title and description) beforehand, it increases reach and interest of viewers.
  • The ability to adjust A/V delay is indispensable: Facebook Live's encoder can be unpredictable, and once you're on-air, you will want to have nice in-synch audio.
  • Use a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) and turn OFF the eco-mode of your car (in the first episode, we didn't have UPS and eco-mode was ON, so at the first red light, the motor cut and all our devices were without current...
  • If you want to make it visually interesting, you need to research the route you are taking and make sure you pass nice and interesting-looking sceneries. You probably want to do it during daylight. 

It took us 4 episodes to come to a solid, working and good-looking solution, but we can now state that we have a comfortable solution for a new format that opens up new possibilities to create intimate settings for interviewing people!

Contact us if you want to find out more!