Wisconsin Public Television Streamlines Ops With Video Devices’ PIX 250i Recorder

Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) recently decided to upgrade their video production recording tools, picking the Video Devices’ rack-mounted PIX 250i. Remote truck engineer in charge Russ Awe, and his production team, selected the file-based video deck based on their experience with the PIX 240i and the company’s reputation for superior video recording and precision monitoring. Looking to streamline its post-production workflow, the station added the PIX 250i monitor/recorder.

WPT's rack-mounted production truck, with Video Devices' PIX 250i

WPT’s rack-mounted production truck, with Video Devices’ PIX 250i

Awe has a long history of keeping the Video Devices PIX 240i portable video/audio recorder in heavy rotation for WPT. The veteran engineer most recently used two PIX 240i units—one to record the main footage and one for the proxy—for an aerial helicopter shoot gathering scenes of historical Wisconsin landmarks for a documentary about the state. The production team used a similar application of the PIX 240is to capture the Birkebeiner “Birkie” ski race held in Hayward, Wisconsin.

When WPT’s directors wanted to transition to a tapeless workflow that would enable them to re-cut event footage for use in post production, Awe searched for a device that would provide a large number of ISOs for the remote truck camera feeds. PIX 250i proved to be the ideal solution to streamline the process due to its extensive video capabilities.

Video Devices products are very well-built, rugged and dependable, plus the company is based in Wisconsin, which was a factor for us, since we like to buy local,” says Awe. “Since the 240is did such an excellent job capturing our helicopter footage, we knew that the 250is would work equally as well for our truck.”

In Awe’s words “the 250i is phenomenal,” praising both its audio and video capabilities. “As a tape engineer, it gives me the confidence that I’m actually recording what I should be, especially as far as video is concerned. The audio displays are also very nice on the 250i. You just don’t get that level of confidence with other recorders.”

Video Devices' PIX 250i

Video Devices’ PIX 250i

The PIX 250i offers significant advantages and time savings for production workflows, providing tapeless, file-based recording and playback, with the ability to access and transfer high-quality files over Ethernet. The unit records edit-ready Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD files and allows simultaneous multi-drive recording, giving production staff peace of mind due to its redundancy and two-drive backup capabilities. The extensive audio capabilities, including 12 tracks of audio, make PIX 250i a comprehensive cost-effective solution, ideal for applications requiring multiple tracks of audio, such as live events, concerts and sports broadcasts.

The streamlined tapeless workflow enables Awe and the WPT team to record to the 250i and then directly transfer those files into Avid via AMA (Avid Media Assist).

“The workflow breaks down the 250i movie file into separate audio and video tracks, which is a much quicker process than digitizing a one-hour tape,” he says. “It takes about a third of the time. The AMA, along with the files from the 250i, has really sped up our production workflow. It basically ingests the files into Avid so we no longer have to do it linearly from tape.”

To date, Awe has used the PIX 250i units in his truck for two projects, including the recent University of Wisconsin (UW) Band’s Spring Concert and the 125th anniversary of Viterbro University in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

The UW Band’s Spring Concert, which will also be available on DVD, featured a 250-member band. This was not your average band performance. The production involved pyrotechnics, a light show, and the conductor flying overhead. With the first night serving as a test run, Awe and his team recorded the entirety of each of the concert’s three performances. Typically for the annual performance, footage from the final show is used for the main broadcast and DVD, however, due to the ISOs of the PIX 250i, the station was able to slice in portions from the previous evenings’ performances, when needed.

Awe and his team deployed a comparable workflow for the Viterbro University anniversary event. The celebration took place over several evenings, featuring a choir, individual singers, an orchestra and several guest speakers. The PIX 250i ISOs proved especially useful for close-up edits in post production.

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