“Sound Stage” producers invest in HD truck for exclusive entertainment production shoots

After looking at the numbers and the expense of renting HD equipment for their “Sound Stage” series, HD Ready partners Joe Thomas and Jim Wolande decided that owning their own HD-equipped truck would be the more efficient route to go.

Forming HD Roadie as a separate company, they invested $2 million in the conversion of a Dane trailer to a state-of-the-art production truck.

The HD Roadie 48-foot truck ? outfitted by Gerling & Associates of Sunbury, Ohio ? rolled into HD Ready/HD Roadie’s St. Charles offices last week.

HD Roadie will be utilized in the production of the phenomenally successful “Sound Stage” series, now going into its third season. The show is shot at Ch. 11’s Grainger Studios.

When not employed by HD Ready shows, HD Roadie ? the only truck built specifically for entertainment production ? will be available for rental.

Trio Video and Corplex also have HD-equipped trucks, but they were largely designed for capturing nationally televised sports and live meeting events.

The truck is outfitted with four Sony F900 cameras (the show often shoots with 10 or more cameras); two new Yamaha DM 2000 digital mixing boards delivering up to 96 tracks; audio monitoring with a Genelec 8030A power pack Surround Sound 5.1 monitoring system, and ProTools HD that chief audio engineer Frank Pappalardo uses for storage and mixing. A Tascam 98 and 78 are used for backup.

Gerling & Associates, considered the number one TV production truck transformation company, is so delighted with its work on the truck that it plans to display it at NAB as its premiere truck, said Wolande proudly.

There is no fixed shooting schedule, but shooting depends on the availability of the artists, said Pappalardo, a 15-year associate of Joe Thomas, “Sound Stage’s” producer/director and a leading presence in the music scene.

Once the artists are nailed down, “it’s more cost-effective to shoot three shows a week,” Pappalardo noted. “Once we’re in a production frame of mind it’s good to stay that way.

He anticipates HD Roadie will be heavily used for shows with major artists currently being booked for spring. Heart, Lindsey Buckingham and America are some of the bands nailed down so far. The third season will premiere in July.

The truck also will be useful in going to artists, in Nashville for instance, if they are unable to make it to Chicago, Wolande said.

HD Ready is also expanding its production. Discussions are in the works about HD Ready producing big name music shows and taping them for broadcast at Waukegan’s Genesee Theatre, eager for audiences after its recent $22 million renovation

“Sound Stage” has 34 shows in the can so far. While domestically it has aired exclusively over Ch. 11/PBS, other U.S. stations are interested in licensing the series, Wolande noted. Shows are currently licensed to stations in Germany, Canada and the UK.

New to the staff of 12 is chief engineer Don Adydan, formerly Post Effects’ director of engineering.

HD Ready/Roadie’s 6,000-sq. ft. office, equipped with video and audio suites, is located at 505 S. Tyler, St. Charles. Phone, 630/443-3000.?Ruth L Ratny

Local HD show production on the upswing

HD pioneer Mike Fayette, who’s Post Effects was the first post house in Chicago to install HD editing capability, is seeing a surge in HD content production.

“In the past 18 months, every major Chicago station broadcasts in HD part of the day, and cable and satellite have had HD services so consumers can receive HD in the home,” he said.

“Networks are demanding HD shows from their content producers. They don’t want shows sitting on the shelf that they can’t rerun in three to five years when everyone has an HD set in their home,” he said.

The last obstacle to getting HD into the homes will be Sony’s release of the first consumer HD DVD players later this year, Fayette noted. “We’re also seeing some HD consumer cameras coming into the market. And the price of HD TV receivers have become more affordable.”

HD production/post has been a growth area for 20-year old Post Effects. “We have two HD rooms because now there’s so much work in the midst of an otherwise static marketplace,” Fayette said.

Two current HD clients are producer Janet Russo who has shot and finished six HD shows being delivered to the Travel Channel, and Digital Kitchen’s production of a propriety TV shows.

“Where activity is totally vacant is in commercials,” he said.