Mobile monitoring in the age of Covid
Video monitoring is a tricky subject for most filmmakers; we see the value in it but are also aware of the pitfalls. Over the course of many shoots I've seen many wireless monitoring devices and have been suitably impressed while simultaneously being unimpressed by the constant wireless outages coupled with the exorbitant price points of some of these devices. Here's how it usually works; you arrive on set for a shoot and set up your monitoring for a client; this usually involves setting up a wireless receiver and transmitter and a production monitor - while I film, the client(s) sit around and watch the footage in what is known as the 'video village'. This worked well, give or take a few outages and power issues - but it's stood the test of time, until now of course. The days of people being huddled around a production monitor viewing camera footage are numbered. Social distancing and a general awareness of being too close to people has drastically changed the video village landscape.
I decided to bite the bullet and get a new kind of monitoring solution; one that could be COVID friendly and offer ease of use and less headaches on the whole. I opted for the Teradek Serv Pro and it's so far been very impressive; it's a wireless receiver that enables you to monitor camera footage via your phone, tablet and computer. Sounds good eh? Wait ... there's more. Teradek recently announced a firmware update that enables you to monitor footage from anywhere in the world; a bit like a Zoom call. I start filming in London and then someone from the USA can download an app called 'VUER' and monitor my filming remotely. I've really enjoyed monitoring from a mobile phone - it's just so quick and easy and you can connect to a WIFI hotpsot or activate the WIFI from the unit itself - which means you can monitor outdoors in remote locations.
I've used the unit on two shoots so far and clients just love the fact that you can monitor from your phone - it literally takes all of 5 minutes to download the app and get monitoring. So while I'm delighted that clients can monitor my work while social distancing on set, it does throw a few interesting caveats to bear in mind; everyone can see your work! Gone are the days of a person casually glancing at your main production monitor - mobile monitoring means that there's more direct involvment with the actual filming process; everyone has the power to direct and yes, that can mean more takes and a few changes to composition - it's definitely more collaborative and more eyes mean more things get picked up. It definitely puts my filmmaking ego in check that's for sure. That's a good thing.