Production of Atlantic Cup Sailing Race To Deliver High Impact for Low Cost

Shooting offshore sailing over a two-week period is not the first event that comes to mind for testing cost-effective video-production and -distribution techniques, but The Atlantic Cup, held May 11-27 between Charleston, SC, and Newport, RI, will do just that.

DSLR and GoPro cameras will capture high-quality images during the Atlantic Cup race May 11-27.

A combination of Panasonic Varicams, Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras, and GoPro cameras in the hands of young sailors interested in learning about video production will be on the boats, capturing the action to video that will be edited on shore using Apple Final Cut Pro systems. A YouTube Channel dedicated to the event will serve the video out to the viewing public.

“We’re lucky that there are waterproof consumer models of cameras from companies like Kodak, Contour, and GoPro that have the flexibility to shoot video at a price point under $300,” says Julianna Barbieri, principal owner of Manuka Sports Event Management, the company holding the event for the second year alongside Oakcliff Sailing, based in Oyster Bay, NY. “And we can take them into the elements, which is a huge bonus.”

There won’t be any live coverage from the boats because transmission technologies and costs are still out of reach. But that won’t prevent the story of the race from being told well. Two Panasonic Varicams and two DSLR cameras will be used to cover the launches and arrivals at each port, and then nine cameras on 18 of the boats will cover the onboard happenings. Red Rock micro rigs will be used with the DSLR cameras to help get good shots, and Micro Plus Lite Panel LED lights will also be used.

“There is a lot of drama on the boats, and then we are coupling that with trying to teach the audience about Class 40 sailing, where there are only two people on the boat for a good portion of the event,” says Matthew Kwok, president/founder of Kwokman Productions, which is handling the acquisition, editing, and content delivery.

Beyond Images
Pictures are only half of the story. Audio is the biggest challenge.

“You have to find a section in the boat where you can get the sailor or captain at the helm talking towards the camera,” Kwok explains, “and the mic needs to be within a certain area to be protected from the wind.”

Wireless microphones were not an option, according to Barbieri, because the signals would need to be recorded into the DSL cameras. Zoom HN4 four-track audio recorders will be used instead, and video will be recorded on Atom Samurai HD-SDI recorders in the .mov format so there will be no need for transcoding during editing.

“The Nikon D800 does not have an HD-video output,” she says, “but it does have an HDMI output, so we’re excited to experiment and see how user-friendly it is.”

Along with the technical challenge is the more intrinsic problem of finding a media manager who is comfortable enough with sailing to be on a boat for two or three days. And that is where the young sailors who are interested in learning about video production come in.

“You can’t put someone off shore for two days if they have never been off shore,” says Barbieri. “All the guys are in their early 20s, are tech savvy, and have been through a training session with Kwokman Productions.”

Each of them will not only be trained in how to get good audio and video but also how to interview crew members, upload video from the recorders into a laptop and rename files, and even send back running commentary from all of the boats via Twitter feeds.

“We’ll help them know where to position themselves on the yacht so no wind is blowing into the microphone, what shots work well, when you can get aggressive with camera shots, interesting camera positions, and more,” says Kwok.

The yachts will be followed via satellite as well, with Eye on Earth (which also handles tracking of dog sleds for the Iditarod) tracking the yachts every two minutes.

“The first pieces that will be done [after each leg] are more news-oriented and cut like a news show while the recaps will have more time in the editing suite,” he says. “We expect to turn around the news pieces within two or three hours of the start or finish, while the more polished pieces will be available about 12 or 18 hours later.”

Barbieri says that, with competitors from France, Germany, Spain, England, and the U.S., the distribution via a YouTube channel is the perfect way to allow race fans around the globe to follow the competition.

“Without YouTube or Twitter, all those fans overseas would not be able to follow the race,” she explains. “We have people from 72 different countries getting onto the Website.”

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