Rock Bands, a Legendary Concert Venue, and Offloads on the Go. Andrew Spirk About the Documentary „Live at the Agora“ 5 min read

Interviewing famous bands can be exciting enough. However, rushing around locations to secure all necessary shooting material can be a challenging job. Therefore, offloading movie data on the go requires a systematic approach. The guys of Clockwork 9 kept that in mind while shooting the documentary „Live at the Agora“. With a mobile setup and reliable software for their data management they made sure to accomplish their daily tasks as smoothly as possible. 

Clockwork 9 has now been involved in the production of this documentary for the past few years with tons of footage to backup. To ensure that everything has been completed securely and no camera card has been left out they used the Silverstack Offload Manager. In our recent interview with Andrew Spirk, Managing & Creative Director at Clockwork 9, he shares his experience on this exciting project, and tells why film production can become a life changing adventure.

First of all, thank you for sharing your insights into your productions with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company Clockwork 9 first (e.g. where are you based? How did you start your career in film production, etc.)?

Clockwork 9 is based in Cleveland, Ohio where all of us here are originally from. We started the company after a number of years with all of us freelancing and each having our own small companies. One day in early 2016 we decided to band together and bring everything under one umbrella. Only three years later and we are one of the top creative agencies in the region. All of us started from the bottom up in traditional film production roles from pre-production all the way through post.

Interviewing RUSH (Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson) (Image: Amy Nahra)

What kind of projects are you usually working on and which services are you generally providing?

We’re working on a broad spectrum of projects ranging from documentary work to commercial videos. We provide a slew of creative services from concept generation at the beginning, all the way through final mixing/coloring for delivery. Our company is in the unique position to do everything in house from start to finish.

Recently you worked on a documentary about the concert venue Agora. Can you tell us a bit about this project? Which services were provided by you, and how did the team working on this project look like?

The Agora documentary came about from the passionate director Jay Bolan who has been with the Agora team for a number of years. Very early on in the project he brought us on to handle production and post-production duties, and we have been involved over the past three years. It’s still ongoing due to the number of interviews we’re acquiring. We started with KISS and most recently we interviewed John Oates, Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads. Our latest interview was with Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush. We handled every single aspect of production, sound, lights and cameras. The creative direction of the shots and setup was up to us in collaboration with Jay and Charles Moore, one of the producers.

BTS Shot (Image: Amy Nahra)

Which cameras were used on this project?

We’ve used a variety: Red Helium Weapon 8K, Canon C200s and a few spattering of DSLRS here and there for certain scenarios.

On that project you worked with the Silverstack Offload Manager for handling backups. How was the decision to use the Silverstack Offload Manager made? Were there specific requirements for the use of the application?

We’ve used Silverstack XT a lot in the past and it’s pretty much unrivaled when it comes down on set DIT work and backup. It’s our preferred tool across the board. There are other options out there but nothing really comes close to the simplicity of ensuring everything is backed up properly and with redundancy. We only used Silverstack XT on a per-project license basis, and when the time came to pick something up for regular use we looked into Silverstack Offload Manager and it checked off all the right boxes. There is nothing more unnerving than having no idea how many backups of cards there are on set, or ending a day and having to go through everything to make sure that we have everything. Offload Manager makes it a dead simple process and we know when asking DIT, ‘Good to format?’ We know the answer will be the right one.

Gene Simmons – Live at the Agora Interview (Image: Amy Nahra)

How did your process for backing up data generally look like on this production? (e.g., were the camera cards backed-up “on the go” during the day, or all together at the end of the day?)

We backup cards on the go most of the time, which makes the backup situation all the more important to make sure everything goes where it needs to go and having an audit trail of what cards have been backed up. It’s unthinkable to have a card formatted that wasn’t backed up, and with Offload Manager it’s not even a concern because it’s so simple and transparent in the process.

How was your overall experience with the Offload Manager like? Were there any features that you used frequently, or liked in particular? 

The most often favorite feature is the wildcard setup for backup management. Not having to create folders by hand over drives that should be identical is amazing. The checksum validation is also absolutely critical to knowing everything is backed up as it should be.

Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads (Image: Amy Nahra)

When you think back to shooting this documentary, what is your most memorable experience? (E.g. any challenging situations that came up, or anything that happened during shooting)

Easily the most memorable was getting to sit down with Rush and being able to ask them anything we wanted. It was truly a remarkable time considering how big we are as fans. I know for Jay it was a life changing experience.

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Thanks a lot to Andrew for sharing all this information about this exciting project with us!

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About the Author
Patrick is a sales and marketing manager at Pomfort. In his communication with customers he always keeps an eye out for interesting use cases and customer stories that might be shared with the readers of our blog for insights into a broad range of productions.