EVS helps André Rieu Studios bring classical music to the masses
With a drive to take classical music away from the clinical environs of academia, make it accessible and give it back to the people, André Rieu has become one of the bestselling top-ten performers in the world. The Dutch violinist, conductor and composer’s approach speaks volumes and it’s reflected in his global presence and sales. Famed for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra, Rieu’s reach is mentioned in the same breath as international acts like U2 and Madonna, with over 35million CDs and DVDs sold worldwide. That success has translated into $95million sales and counting. He’s achieved 30 number one chart positions globally, been awarded 335 platinum discs and tours relentlessly, with 120 shows a year bringing classical music to the masses. In fact, in a short space of time, he’s become one of the biggest solo male touring artists in the world today.
Rieu’s global reputation comes from putting on huge musical and multimedia extravaganzas, with a team of at least 120 people regularly on tour to help plan, manage, record and play in the orchestra.
With his shows lasting for nearly three hours, he formed his own company, André Rieu Studios, to film all of the performances. The studio also produces the live shows, which are shown at cinemas, broadcast on television and radio, and used for CD and DVD sales. So the broadcast and production process has to be entirely seamless, flexible and well executed – without missing a beat.
The André Rieu Studios doesn’t work to the same tight deadlines as fast turnaround TV, but the company does work on a bigger scale for most of its production solutions. While the studio only has to produce about four shows every year, the team uses anywhere between 24 and 28 cameras for every show recorded. Each concert is usually recorded three times to ensure the best results. As part of the ingest production process, the studio was using tape-based workflows to record André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra.
Using HDCAM VTRs to ingest the recorded material at their studio, the team needed two tapes for every camera they used. This left André Rieu Studios with an unproductive, resource-heavy and expensive workflow, paying for over 575 tapes every year for the four annual shows they had to record and produce. This resulted in a minimal annual expense of €48,875 as each two hour HDCAM tape cost about €85 to buy, and this didn’t include the added cost of storing the physical tapes. The tape-based workflow also left the team with HDCAM image quality, which gives an extra generation loss due to the lower resolution HDCAM writes on the tape.
‘It takes three days to ingest all of the material once the tapes arrive at the studio as they’re very bulky to set up and the process requires more operators, which increases the costs,’ said Martijn Volleberg, general manager at André Rieu Studios. ‘We were looking for a solution that would improve our workflow and more importantly, speed up the post-production side of things while also keeping the same level of quality.’
As a result, the studio needed something more compact, scalable and cost-efficient that would also integrate seamlessly with their existing kit and could be used by the OB facilities during the live recordings. In fact, André Rieu Studios wanted to completely upgrade its legacy production workflow with a next generation solution, offering plug-and-play functionality that’s easy to install.
The André Rieu Studios team looked to EVS for a viable solution, which would help them meet their needs.
‘André Rieu Studios approached us with the need to simplify their existing workflow,’ said Marianne Lothaire, product manager, EVS. ‘They were looking to replace their current equipment with a fully- integrated tapeless solution, which would improve the studio’s production workflow, speed up the post-production and gain in quality. We therefore suggested an EVS Rec2Post workflow based on the portable XFly storage solution.
Consequently, André Rieu Studios invested in six XFly platforms, which provided eight SATA hard drives, each with 6.2TB of storage capacity and streaming up to ten simultaneous live HD feeds at 120Mbps in real-time. This new portable XFly system was developed for extended live production operations and designed to help XT server operators to easily back up content. When André Rieu Studios’ cameraman finished shooting the live feeds, they used the XFly to transport all the content, from feeds, multi-cam angles, best shots and highlights in one single storage space. This gave the live operators at André Rieu Studios an easier method to transport their production backup, from the shoot and faster ingest into post-production.
- Six EVS XFly units – used for streaming and portable storage
- Six EVS XT video production servers – installed in the production company's OB truck
- EVS IPDirector workstation – used for clip creation
The workflow is based on 24 separate camera recordings of the show. The setup was deployed with scalability and flexibility in mind, so equipment can be integrated or taken away for different configurations without interrupting the overall workflow.
XT video servers in the OB trucks are used to ingest the multicam feeds, which are simultaneously streamed onto theXFly units. Eight of the cameras have their feeds stored on each XFly while the IPDirector workstation is used for clip creation, monitoring purposes and initiation of the file transfers.
‘The EVS solution has given André Rieu Studios the ability to record the live shows without tapes anywhere in the world,’ says Marianne. ‘The process of ingesting the content to post-production in high and low resolution, makes creating the final product faster, easier and far more efficient.’
Once recorded, the show is stored on the - compact XFly, which is sent back to the André Rieu Studios in Maastricht. The content is then ingested onto a DDP storage system from Ardis Technologies, so editors working with the three Avid Symphonys can begin editing as soon as possible.
While material ingested from the ageing HDCAM VTR suffered a generation loss, the show is now recorded natively at 1080i with DNxHD 120 codec files. This offers a much better image quality and vastly improves the results for the audience. Once the production process is complete, the shows are archived and stored on LTO tapes. This boost in performance and flexibility has enabled André Rieu Studios to save time and money, and has also helped create a resource-light solution.
‘Adding XFly portable storage solutions to our workflow has really helped save us valuable production time as well as the added benefit of not having to rely on tapes,’ said Martijn Volleberg, general manager at André Rieu Studios. ‘Not only has it increased our workflow, it’s helped us save cash, storage space and the image quality is much improved so viewers will have a much improved visual dynamic, which makes our overall product much better.’
KEY SUCCESS FACTORS
The project worked due to:
- two to three days saved, adding a fast, tapeless workflow that increased production efficiency
- robust and reliable technology, reducing kit to a single box solution
- third-party integration
- recoverable investment from not using resource-heavy productivity
- plug-and-play simplicity that integrates over existing infrastructures
‘The old tape-based solutions we were using were a real paint point in our workflow. It slowed down everything we did and bulked up the operational costs of producing the performances,’ concluded Martijn. ‘Now we can do more justice to the great shows André and the Johann Strauss Orchestra put on thanks to the improved production process. We spend less time and resources worrying about recording with a tape workflow and more time reaching an even wider audience.’