An eight-part documentary series directed by Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways explores the heart and soul of America’s musical identity. Each one-hour episode is devoted to a different musical landmark, chronicling the history, cultural environment and people that define each city. Episodes are set in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Executive producers James A. Rota of Roswell Films and John Ramsay of Therapy Studios oversaw the documentary’s production.
To capture more than 480 hours of performances, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, the team used Blackmagic Design’s HyperDeck Studio Pro SSD recorders. “It was incredibly easy to set up the cameras with the HyperDecks and record to SSDs all day,” says Ramsay. “For impromptu performances, we could throw the camera and HyperDeck setup together, recording live performances on the fly. It gave us a flexible, tight workflow instead of having to deal with a complicated one.”
From Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways, Dave Grohl, Ben Jaffe, Clint Maedgen, Rickie Monie, Mark Braud, Ronell Johnson and Freddie Lonzo. Photo by Andrew Stuart.
Six HyperDeck Studio Pros were dispersed among six flypacks, situated near static cameras capturing the action from all angles, and the HyperDeck’s dual SSD recording slots provided continuous recording. “The HyperDecks let us record, play back, use timecode and basically ‘set and forget’ all day. It was like having a never-ending tape machine,” explains Rota. “When the day was over, the drives went to the DIT, who backed up the footage and sent it to L.A. for post.”
“The documentary process really became part of the music, and any production issues would have affected the album,” Ramsay concludes. “Not having to worry about technical aspects and having a solid workflow was amazing.”