Innovative Production Services (Innovative) is a company that had always been primarily focused on live events. Over its 25-year history, Innovative has had experience in all aspects of live production including bands, theatre, TV, art, and performance, but large corporate events had become their mainstay heading into 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything very rapidly. Large events were gone for a long time, so the company had to adapt and to help them do this, they turned to Ross Video.
As Innovative director, Jeremy Koch, explains, “We setup a trial studio in our factory that quickly moved into a 750m2 professional sound stage. We loved this new studio world and our gear had to step up in certain areas to match the standards that not only our customers were used to at Innovative, but what our staff and contractors were used to. So, we purchased a Ross Carbonite Black SOLO (split system) for our studio, The HUB. This little powerhouse was amazing, especially for its size. This only led to more interest in Ross products. One of our leading contractors was always raving about Ross as well, so we knew we were on to a good thing.”
After a successful 18 months in the studio world, a new opportunity presented itself to Innovative. This opportunity had the potential to be a real game-changing way of doing studio broadcast work and also live hybrid events – the purchase and fit out of a broadcast truck. This was a dream opportunity for Innovative as it was something they had been pondering for years.
Koch continues, “Whatever we chose needed to work with our current workflows and also allow for upgrades and changes as required. Flexibility is key and Ross gives us this. The other thing Ross gives us is innovation and this is really close to our heart, in fact it’s part of our name. We wanted gear that could easily talk to each other and have control systems and solutions that are all part of the one family.”
After careful evaluation and assessment, Innovative purchased a Ross Ultrix Carbonite, Ultrix FR5 and several other Ross products and solutions for their new truck.
Koch adds, “We wanted something that would work for us now and into the future. This was probably the single biggest thing that led us to Ross and in particular the Ultrix Carbonite. The truck has a need to offer ultimate simplicity and compatibility, not only in the physical domain but also in the mental domain. We wanted it to be easy to understand, use and troubleshoot for our staff and contractors. Starting with 12G-SDI now means that everything works instantly for us and it’s a known signal format for all of our team. It offers immediate benefits especially when it comes to supporting 4K workflows. Also, with the Ultrix system, if and when we need to jump to ST-2110, we can by simply swapping out an IO blade – and that’s pretty cool.”
According to Koch, the Ross products and solutions easily met all of their key requirements by offering the upgrade path they were looking for and more.
He says, “This is not just in the Ultrix either. The Ultritouch Panels all get updates to allow new functionality. The TouchDrive panel gets these too. It’s so good to see Ross actively developing and working on their products and pushing those updates to their customers. The other big thing for us is support and Ross Video Australia have given us great support from day one.”
The first two tests for Innovative’s new truck featuring the new Ross equipment were at major events for IBM Think and TEDx Sydney. At IBM the truck was in full live event mode where it was the technical hub of the entire show. All cameras came back to the truck as they would in a typical broadcast truck, but that’s where the similarities ended.
As Koch explains, “We also ran all playback for the show such as videos, audio stings and presentations from the truck. All of the outputs for the live event were also fed from the truck. This includes projector SDI feeds for the main screens, foldback monitor feeds, side of stage monitor feeds and lighting monitor feeds. The main broadcast live stream of this event also ran from the truck. On this event, besides handling the main switch of all cameras and content for both the screens in the room and the live stream, Ross Ultritouch panels with Dashboard switched all the KVM stations. The two graphics positions relied heavily on these touchpanels and this was a great success.”
TEDxSydney was where the truck got to focus purely on a broadcast role. It was quite an involved broadcast event with many moving parts and dynamic personalities that made this one of the more demanding events Innovative work on every year.
Koch adds, “This was also the first year we had handled the broadcast directly on our own. The reliability and flexibility of the Ross gear allowed us to do this with confidence and that is a big thing considering the direction we are heading in.”
Overall, both events were executed with great precision and great success. Establishing a reputation for quality and reliability is paramount for the success of Innovative’s new truck and Ross products and solutions had been at the heart and centre of these projects.
Koch says, “The one thing that has been critical to the success of these projects is the control of the KVM system. The Ross Ultritouch Panels with Dashboard have been a critical part of how this works and how successful it is. We use custom commands and scripts from Ross dashboard buttons on the Ultritouch panels to control what PC or Mac you are controlling in the truck. It really is fantastic to see this working so well and so integrated into the truck. You can also control the lighting in the room you are currently in from your Ultritouch panel.”
It’s clear that Koch is not just a fan of his new Ross equipment, but of the Ross team in Australia, too, as he points out, “We like the ethos of the company. The fact that the service and commitment we get from Kyle Le Roux and the Ross team here in Australia is just so fantastic means we don’t need to look elsewhere. We also hadn’t got any kind of inkling of similar service from any other technology supplier, so partnering with Ross really has turned out to be a great decision.”
Koch also points out repeatedly that the biggest “edge” Ross gives Innovative is in the flexibility and adaptability within their systems. This, alongside Ross Video Australia’s service and support, has created a winning combination.
Jeremy Koch concludes, “Continued software development is adding new features and this also keeps us on the front foot. The other big thing is that Ross listens to its customers. We feel like we get heard when we ask for features or functionality. Ross like to know how their customers are using their products and what can be done to make experiences better. Again, Ross service and support has been excellent. We have some extensive experience with this already and some key staff, like Kyle, have really looked after us to get us to the point we are at now. It’s these experiences that reinforce our decision to choose Ross as one of our key partners for this amazing project and to be a part of our company’s inventory.”