BS1H: Future Grade’s Studio Node Mini merges broadcast and cinema

BS1H: Future Grade’s Studio Node Mini merges broadcast and cinema

When the pandemic struck in 2020, productions came to an abrupt stop. Gatherings became impossible, pushing the production industry to frantically search for alternatives. Although tools like Zoom provided a means to continue creating, webcams yielded inferior video quality, leaving viewers longing for the sophistication of traditional sets and cinematic excellence.

Future Grade, headquartered in Los Angeles, aimed to elevate the standards of remote production by creating tailored live production studios, comprehensive remote broadcast systems, and cutting-edge fan experiences. Through their expertise in highly specialized, multi-camera captures, seamless integration of remote talent, and innovative networking solutions, they have established a new benchmark in the realm of live content and remote production. Noteworthy achievements include spearheading the development of Pat McAfee's state-of-the-art 4K, 25-camera, multi-studio megaplex, and the buildout of ESPN and Mercedes College Gameday Mobile Podcast Studio with three Panasonic UE100 PTZ cameras.

Future Grade creates tailored live production studios, comprehensive remote broadcast systems, and cutting-edge fan experiences.

Austin James Smith and his team had been providing live production services for almost a decade through his other company – L.A. Drones. With a much larger paradigm shift happening in the world of media, he founded Future Grade in 2020, driven by the need for high-quality content during the pandemic when in-person shoots were impossible. “Future Grade was kind of the response to that,” revealed Smith. “It was taking all of our live production knowledge, all of our networking knowledge, and figuring out how to deploy it in a new way so that we can provide cinematic capture to talent within their homes from remote locations.”

BS1H: Best of Both Worlds

Their latest offering is the Studio Node Mini, a specialized all-in-one cinematic remote live streaming and broadcast camera travel kit. Centered around the LUMIX BS1H, the compact Studio Node Mini not only excels in capturing high-quality video, but also incorporates professional-grade audio, lighting, and streaming capabilities – all in the size of a carry-on case. In their quest for the ideal solution, Future Grade exhaustively researched and concluded that LUMIX stood as their best option. Beyond remote camera control, their criteria involved sustaining production standards, cinematic quality, and compatibility with some of their preferred lens choices, all of which the BS1H met.

“One of the huge benefits of the Studio Node Mini is that it's designed for non-tech savvy individuals,” explained Smith. “Basically, you can open it up, turn it on, and if you have a field producer, or someone remote, that can operate it, they can log on and control all the camera controls, make sure you're in focus, or make sure you're recording, basically take away all the technical challenges that you would encounter when trying to build your own studio.”

With the BS1H, Future Grade's Studio Node Mini is  all-in-one cinematic remote live streaming and broadcast camera travel kit

The Studio Node Mini enables remote control with built-in 5G cellular bonding and their exclusive Future Grade Network, a secure VPN customizable for clients. Additionally, it offers location control through a simplified one-button system using an integrated Elgato Stream Deck. “Creating that VPN tunnel is huge because we’re able to manipulate things like focus and audio,” explained Smith. “This opens up new opportunities to connect different pieces of hardware like you normally would on a set. Applications like Zoho Assist, or LogMeIn, are great solutions for remote control, but when you can actually use physical hardware remotely to control the end product, it makes a huge difference in what you can do. We consider the establishment of the Future Grade Network as a big part of our IP, and where a lot of our work has gone into.”

"One of the huge benefits of the Studio Node Mini is that it's designed for non-tech savvy individuals"

Austin James Smith, CEO, Future Grade

For capturing audio with the BS1H, Future Grade uses the XLR-1 microphone adaptor mounted in the camera’s hot shoe, using professional studio or lavaliere microphones. For Smith, the XLR-1 was a big discovery for the team since they no longer have to sync audio in streaming software like OBS anymore since they can pass it directly through the camera.

Studio Node Mini - Not A Talking Head Video

The versatility of the BS1H for cinema or broadcast purposes is a major advantage. A key feature is its ability to send a pre-colored Rec.709 live feed, which Smith can use tools like Zoom for live broadcasts or streams. Smith typically records UHD (3840x2160) 422 ALL-I files in V-Log, allowing for post-production color grading. “Sending out these units out in the field opens things up for a more commercialized interview, or it can be a talking head piece that can be taken back and color graded and made to look more cinematic is a huge benefit,” he explained.

According to Smith, the Studio Node Mini is being primarily used for livestreaming or broadcast work, the majority of his clients are seeking a cinematic look instead of a talking head video. “What I'm finding is that the two fields are merging,” he revealed. “If you're watching a typical video podcast, or any form of new media, I'm seeing a lot more shallow depth of field at 24 frames-per-second. The fact that the BS1H combined both of these worlds was a huge selling point for me.

“We created the Studio Node Mini to solve a specific problem that was originally associated with the pandemic,” continued Smith, “but now the world has permanently shifted and adapted. You can see that media itself seems to be decentralizing. People are realizing that if they already have a a fan base, they can reach a much larger audience and monetize their own content. This is a big part of why we build these tools.”

The Studio Node Mini is available now and Future Grade is presently offering consultations to meet their customers' requirements.

For more information on the Studio Node Mini, visit Future Grade’s website here.

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