Crew in a Box is using Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Camera 6Ks and ATEM Mini Pro switchers at the heart of their new plug and play remote production solution. Since its introduction in June of 2020, Crew in a Box systems have been used on dozens of TV and commercial productions, including the recent remote filming of Vanessa Hudgens for a promo campaign for MTV’s Movie & TV Awards: Greatest of All Time show.
Crew in a Box is a product created by Ira Rosensweig, a Clio Award winning commercial director and owner of LA based production company Wavemaker Creative, award winning DP Dallas Sterling and Emmy nominated VFX artist Jeremy Fernsler. Crew in a Box provides a simple to use, high quality and remotely controlled production technology that allows filming to continue safely during the pandemic, and recently won IABM’s BaM Create Award, as the best broadcast & media creation and acquisition innovation of 2020.
“We figured that if full blown productions were put on hold, brands and networks would still want to find a way to have celebrity spokespeople advertise their products and shows,” says Rosensweig. “For talent who aren’t yet comfortable with returning to a traditional set, or media companies not willing to take on the risks of returning to in person production, Crew in a Box is a safe way to achieve high quality production without the need of in person crew.”
Built around Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Camera 6K to provide high quality footage, each Crew in a Box comes equipped with the camera, a built in teleprompter and Interrotron that allows direct communications with talent, a three foot wide three panel LED light and professional microphones.
Rosensweig explained why they chose the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K: “As filmmakers, production value and image quality are of the utmost importance to us. We also needed to find a camera that would be small enough fit into an approximately two foot cube that we could also control through our computer. We investigated the entire spectrum of smaller cinema cameras and quickly realized that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K was the best choice.
We had not used it before but found that it rivaled the image quality of much more expensive cameras, with beautiful shallow depth of field and 13 stops of dynamic range. Also, the ability to shoot in 6K meant fewer takes since we could shoot talent in a medium shot and punch into a closeup without seeing artifacts.”
On camera talent simply opens the box and plugs it in, automatically connecting the system via the Internet to a remote team of filmmakers who control every aspect of the shoot. During the shoot, the project’s director will appear on the integrated beamsplitter glass, which the camera is shooting through, to direct the talent. Camera control, switching between feeds and graphics insertions are all done remotely using ATEM Mini Pro.
“The ATEM Mini Pro allows us to both control the camera remotely, in concert with custom written Crew in a Box software, and make Zoom recognize the camera as a webcam. However, there are also some pretty great bells and whistles, like the ability to dial in a color grade with DaVinci Resolve Primary Color Corrector, view and switch between up to 4 local cameras, process effects with its built in DVE and livestream directly to multiple platforms,” Rosensweig continued.
Agencies, clients and crew join a video conference where they can view a high resolution feed from the camera and participate as if they were on set, creating a seamless experience for all involved. Video from the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K can be recorded inside the box, or the feed can be used for livestreaming.
Since being introduced, Crew in a Box has been used on a number of global ad campaigns, streams and broadcasts for customers such as McDonalds, State Farm and Audible, and networks such as NBC, FOX, ABC and FX. As Covid restrictions have changed, the systems have also begun to be used as long term solutions for projects such as direct to camera address for commercials, interviews featuring both into and off camera eyelines, variety and talk shows with remote guests, press junkets and talent in locations without access to crews.
Recently, Crew in a Box was used to shoot a promo campaign featuring Vanessa Hudgens as host of the MTV Movie & TV Awards: Greatest of All Time show. Five crew members, including a producer, DP/Crew in a Box operator and teleprompter operator, ran the cameras and technical aspects of the shoot remotely for the creative and producing teams at ViacomCBS, who were also remote, thus eliminating unnecessary risk while keeping talent comfortable.