To help launch her latest album, Witness, Katy Perry participated in a four-day live streaming event in June. For 96 straight hours, Perry was holed up in a Big Brother-style house where PTZ robotic cameras captured her every waking, sleeping and meditating move, together with the comings and goings of friends and guest celebrities. Streamed live on YouTube, Witness World Wide was produced by Fly on the Wall (FOTW) Entertainment, perhaps best known as executive producer of the CBS show Big Brother.
Witness World Wide presented some daunting challenges for FOTW. With its various live entertainment elements and 96-hour duration, nothing similar had ever been done before. The FOTW team described it as a reality show, a talk show and a musical performance all rolled into one live streaming event.
While Big Brother is produced in a fixed studio with an infrastructure that FOTW has fine-tuned over 19 seasons, WWW took place in a nondescript building far from a studio lot. This meant the FOTW team had to start from scratch to install cabling, equipment and every other technical aspect of live production in a temporary, remote location.
We live for these types of challenges, so when FOTW asked us to deliver a complete technical broadcast infrastructure for the streaming event, including an HD control room and on-site engineering support, we were ready.
At the event location, Bexel constructed a 1920 x 1080p multisource control room and a comprehensive fiber infrastructure to support the 40-plus Panasonic AW-HE130 HD robotic cameras installed throughout Perry’s living space. The technical backbone and technical operations positions for editing and playback were housed in two trailers parked on the street outside the venue.
Throughout the live stream, Bexel supplied three daily shifts of two engineers who operated the Sony MVS-7000X switcher and Calrec Summa console with Hydra2 audio distribution. A 256 x 256 Evertz router managed feeds to support four simultaneous camera streams. The live video was ingested directly into the Avid online editing system so operators could create video-on-demand clips for YouTube and other promotional activities.
In addition, Bexel provided 4K acquisition gear, including Sony FS7 camera packages, which allowed the EPK camera and audio crews to shadow Perry throughout the event. The resulting footage was used to produce Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness?, a 90-minute 4K special about Witness World Wide that streamed on YouTube in October.
Perry marked the close of the live stream, and the release of her new album, when she left the location and traveled to a nearby high school to present a free concert. With Dejero bonded cellular transmitters supplied and operated by Bexel, FOTW was able to maintain the live feed and continue streaming Perry’s journey in the limo until the handoff to the production technical compound at the school. The Dejero equipment, which enables live, high-quality video uplinking using available cellular networks, supported a seamless connection from the fixed control room to the concert at the school.
—Jeffrey Bown, strategic account manager for Bexel