Independent OB offers creative solutions


EFX Productions is an independent outside broadcasting (OB) company that seeks to offer creative solutions to its clients. With this in mind, Brendan Marsay, the owner of EFX Productions and an innovative engineer by profession, designed and engineered a specially designed OB van in March 2010 in response to production requirements for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“The van can hold up to eight cameras which are full HD 1920 x 1080 50i uncompressed. It can furthermore be interfaced with primary use of Sony XDCam EX3 or any SDI camera,’ explains Marsay.

The OB van is also able to operate in a tapeless environment with SDI 4ch Instant Replay Server, digital audio, live 5.1 mixing and embedded / digital / analogue audio streams in and out and a 16 Channel multi-track audio recorder. It includes the full compliment of wireless mics, IFB, cell or fixed line Hybrid, There are 16 comms stations and the record format has SxS card, 4:4:4 HD uncompressed onto server, DVCam (SD), 1080i, 720p and 576i scaleable.

Each camera can be slaved for ISO recording (in camera) which enables a live cut for venue projection as well as capture for post production. Cameras are digitally matched which speeds up post to a point where little or no grading is required. The unit is capable of live broadcast and pre-recording or both, while the kit can be in the OB van or in flight cases. Outputs are flexible – HDMI, DVI, VGA, HD-SDI, SDI and Composite (SD in 16:9 or 3:4) interface with any venue or staging company’s existing switch gear and projection equipment

The lighting in the OB is all LED to reduce interior heating and demand. All electronics are backed up by a pair of online UPS units which can run for about 20 minutes, giving ample time to find another power source. The interior is fitted with 50mm of sound and heat insulation finished with soft-touch fabrics and wood which creates a pleasant space to work in.

Massive Upgrade

To meet the requirements of existing and new clients the company will upgrade to Fiber Optic Camera links in 2011. This upgrade will enable faster deployment as well as avoid the issue of traditional copper cable distance limitations.

“This is a massive investment of R500 000,’ says Marsay. ” Our aim is to constantly be innovative, not just in the OB field but technology in general. For instance, we recently developed a 3D camera solution for a multi-national corporation who was shooting a 3D spot and came to EFX Productions to find the solution to the problem.’

Marsay explains that one of their advantages is that they can tailor make a package for each client. “As an engineer I am easily able to make a package to fit each event. All products are different and require different equipment. I embrace new technology, which means more flexibility and often cheaper solutions than more established OB vans.’

EFX Productions can offer everything from logistics to delivery. The company also has strong relationships with uplink service providers and media streaming companies.

The company’s other advantage, is that in the current tight economic marketplace, it can offer flexibility when it comes to budgets. “I don’t have a “rate card’ because everyone’s budget and productions are different. There is no standard set-up to which a client is tied into. They pay for what they need, rather then what comes in a bundle.’

As a small company EFX Productions hires freelancers for the work required. “We have a core base of very skilled freelancers who bring their best to every event. Productions are about team work and the EFX team is always willing to bring that little bit extra to the party.’

Some of EFX Productions’ highlights include SuperSport, Gauteng MPU for the 2010 Fifa World Cup Fan Parks and supporting events, plus Fifa’s Football of Hope and the Andrea Bocelli Concert at the Northgate Dome.

Regarding the 2010 World Cup the company had four different jobs which included the position of host broadcaster for the Football of Hope festival at the official stadium in Alexandra. EFX shot all the games in HD with delivery to HBS. This was an HD flight kit shoot.

“The HD OB van was busy with SuperSport HD and was responsible for collecting interesting stories and colour pieces. We travelled greater Gauteng and the Free State often doing three OB productions a day from various fan parks and press conferences. The OB was the perfect tool for the job as it has a very quick set up time, and is completely self-sufficient with Cell-Hybrids for IFB, off-air monitoring and on board back up power.’

Marsay elaborates that they were able to broadcast anywhere and at anytime. “From site arrival to transmission time it was sometimes as little as 40 minutes. Venues included Mary Fitzgerald Square, Soweto Cricket Oval, sports pubs in Hillbrow, Yeoville and Craighall, press conferences at the Presidential Guest House, a gala dinner at Gallagher Convention Centre and an interview with John Travolta at Lanseria Airport among others.’

Due to the tight schedule, the SD kit was stationed at a VIP hall for primary international sponsors of the event. “The highlight of the World Cup was the closing concert at the Northgate Dome, where Andrea Bocelli performed in Africa for the first time. This was covered by the HD OB Van and was primarily for venue projection.’

Based on the innovative nature of the company, its attention to detail and determination to give clients production value for their spend, EFX Productions is undoubtedly poised to grow exponentially in the coming year.


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