BitDepth 774 - March 22

Carnival TV brought high definition video of key events to the web for Carnival 2011. Here's how.
Carnival, HD
Curtis Popplewell and Walt Lovelace pose in the interview hotseat at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Carnival Tuesday. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

The guys are sitting around in the cozy workspace of BeachHouse Entertainment trying to figure out what they can tell me.
The pressure they’re under is the kind everyone wants to have. Over Carnival 2011, BeachHouse, in partnership with Advance Dynamics, streamed a successful and widely praised video feed of Carnival to the world for free.
And everyone in the business wants to know how they did it.

That “it” being an almost flawless and well-edited live stream of Carnival events delivered in high-definition video to computer screens around the world.
Cagey, then, is the order of the day for our conversation.
“Straight up, let’s get it clear that Advance Dynamics was a full partner in this,” videographer Walt Lovelace declares. “This wasn’t just a BeachHouse thing.”

That much was immediately clear at the events that their joint venture CarnivalTV covered. The distinctive ADL video cranes swooped up and down and in and out of Panorama Finals, Dimanche Gras and the Parade of the Bands on Carnival Tuesday, putting viewers deep in the action onstage.
Co-hosting the event was Maxine Williams, who has been the face of many year’s worth of ADL’s DVD production, Inside Carnival, who worked with Hans DesVignes and Shawna Maharaj to bridge the action onstage, introduce packaged features and interview subjects brought to the simple tower built from scaffolding alongside the stage.

The production was an eclectic mix of state-of-the-art live video presentation, with seven cameras, two of them on cranes covering each event hardwired to a location editing console, and seat of the pants DSLR video captures on location for the features.
But with all due props to ADL’s expertise, there was a certain fit and finish to this year’s production that strongly reflected the youthful enthusiasm and virile style that fires the well-known BeachHouse parties.

“BeachHouse's strength is in creative capacity, and we have a robust fan base among young people,” says Lovelace.
“It was Walt who suggested it,” Paul Charles recalls. “Let's do the DVD live, editing it in advance, do the features before and punctuate the live broadcast stream with them, essentially selling the DVD live.”
Paul Charles, who handles business for BeachHouse, noted that “we didn't start the project to make money on it in the first year, we wanted to do it, to show it could be done and to find out how to make it happen.”

Charles described the project as “hampered by history.”
“We’d go out to talk to sponsors, but they don't hear what you're saying, they have in mind what they have seen in the past and make their decisions based on that.”
“We started working on CarnivalTV in late October 2010, but the time it took to get the rights sorted out made it difficult to market the project effectively.”
Flow enabled the upstream feed, which only had to be reset once for five minutes during the entire live CarnivalTV presentation and supported the project by giving the team some headroom in broadband demand which they tapped into on Carnival Tuesday.

The team brought in Yussuf Clarke, a friend of a friend of Lovelace’s to enable the technical aspects of the project, which prompts editor Curtis Popplewell to note, laughing, “so I really don’t know how it got done.”
The project earned the team some serious fan support, with 350,000 people from 136 countries signing up for the feed and the CarnivalTV Facebook page registered 700,000 visits during the live events.

Despite the losses that came with lower than expected advertiser support, the team remains positive about the prospects of the project.
“Oh it was definitely a success,” says Walt Lovelace, “It offered a peek at what the future holds.” 
“I was the one who kept harping on it. This is the future and we need to be online now or we're going to miss the opportunity. I really believe this is the future of television globally. We; Curtis, myself, the ADL crew, were in a position to do something really world class.”

As this is written, all that’s available on are some short promotional clips that offer hints of what the feed looked like while it was running.
A CarnivalTV app is being created for the iPhone platform but their fanbase will want more content soon to keep their interest strong.
Only half of the mini-features aired on the live feed, and the challenge for the CarnivalTV team now is to leverage the capacity they’ve developed and the engagement they’ve won into lasting loyalty.
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