Pickathon Music Festival Broadcasts Live with Blackmagic Design

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Held outside of Portland, Ore., every August, the Pickathon Music Festival brings together more than 50 musical acts across seven stages for a three-day music festival on the Pendarvis Farm and in the surrounding woods. Not only is Pickathon unique in terms of location, it also requires a unique live production workflow.

In 2014, Ryan Styles, Pickathon’s producer and a production veteran, coordinated a crew of 68 staff and 223 volunteers to handle live broadcasts to monitors around the festival grounds, as well as 44 hours of live streams to a global Internet audience via the web sites of the festival and local station KEXP. Tens of thousands of people enjoyed the 2014 festival, whether at the event itself or watching live streams online.

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Photo by Alicia J. Rose.

In order to handle such a large amount of content, Stiles and his team relied on six of Blackmagic Design’s ATEM Live Production Switchers. Located near the main stage, a 57-foot broadcast truck housed an ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K and ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel, which were the heart of the workflow. The switcher handled all the stages’ feeds and received edited content from three computers.

The staff was divided among the rest of the stages and used a mix of cameras, switchers and converters, including the Blackmagic Studio Camera, ATEM Production Studio 4K, ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio, three ATEM Television Studio switchers, six ATEM Camera Converters, three ATEM Studio Converters, HyperDeck Studio Pro and three HyperDeck Shuttle SSD recorders to record the footage, two H.264 Pro Recorders and 13 Mini Converters. Optical fiber cable measuring 3,800 feet connected the stages to the main broadcast truck.

“The ATEM switchers allowed Pickathon to accomplish tasks that would otherwise have been impossible. We needed stability and a universal system that’s the same no matter what stage the directors are at. The simplicity and ease of use of the software and control over the network is an all-around win for us,” says Stiles. “The importance of using it cannot be stressed enough. One of Pickathon’s challenges is that we are not a crew during the year. We come from all different types of employment in the industry, and I need everyone to understand the equipment within a five-minute period so they can focus on our aesthetic rather then fuss with technology. The ATEM switchers allowed us to do just that.”