The remote-production solution Crew in a Box launched last year uses Blackmagic Design's Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and Atem Mini Pro switcher.
Created by director Ira Rosensweig, cinematographer Dallas Sterling and VFX artist Jeremy Fernsler, 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 The MTV Movie & TV Awards: Greatest of All Time.
“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 [remotely].”
Each Crew in a Box comes equipped with a Pocket Cinema Camera; a built-in teleprompter and Interrotron that allows direct communication with talent; a 3'-wide, three-panel LED light and professional microphones.
“Production value and image quality are of the utmost importance to us, and we also needed a camera small enough to fit into an approximately 2-foot cube that we could also control through our computer,” Rosensweig says. “We investigated the entire spectrum of smaller cinema cameras and quickly realized the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K was the best choice; it rivals the image quality of much more expensive cameras, with shallow depth of field and 13 stops of dynamic range. Also, the ability to shoot in 6K means fewer takes because we can shoot talent in a medium shot and punch into a close-up without seeing artifacts.”
On-camera talent 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 Mini Pro allows us to control the camera remotely in concert with custom Crew in a Box software and make Zoom recognize the camera as a webcam,” says Rosensweig. “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 four local cameras, process effects with its built-in DVE and livestream directly to multiple platforms.”
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. Video from the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K can be recorded inside the box, or the feed can be used for livestreaming.