Did you ever need to manage independent scenes of multiple units with only one Livegrade system? If so, you will quickly recognize the huge potential of working with stages in Livegrade Studio, as it will make your life so much easier. This article will walk you through a whole new workflow for handling multiple scenes simultaneously within the same project.
For many experienced DITs, the following scenario is not new: The main unit and a splinter unit shoot two independent scenes at the same time.
Here’s the problem: A) You’re the only DIT on set. B) You only have one Livegrade system available. So what now?
Don’t worry, here’s the solution: Livegrade Studio allows you to group your slots into stages and lets you manage multiple cameras signals of multiple units with ease.
How do Stages work?
While slots represent live camera signals, stages represent groups of camera signals that belong together, e.g., cameras “A” and “B” belong to your main unit, and cameras “X” and “Y” belong to your splinter unit.
So, as those groups of cameras need to work entirely independently, configured stages change the behavior of specific Livegrade actions that usually affect all slots – such as the global metadata panel, shot creation (for all slots) actions, or recording (for all slots) actions. Consequently, stages allow you to fully control a group of slots without affecting other slots that belong to a different unit.
How to use Stages?
First of all, everything works as usual as long as you have no stages configured. However, as soon as the situation changes and another unit has to be operated by your DIT cart simultaneously, you can configure stages in no time within the device manager. Once you have created stages, you can assign each slot to one of the available stages. Note: By default, each slot is automatically assigned to the first stage that you added in the stages configuration table.
Since the stage name is displayed in different places in the UI, it makes sense to use meaningful names, e.g., “Main Unit” and “Splinter Unit”. But don’t worry, if necessary, you can change the stage names at any time. Combined with Livegrade Studio’s custom slot character feature, you can make sure your stage names and slot names reflect your current production setup.
If your setup changes and one of your cameras should no longer belong to your active stage, you can assign the camera to another stage that you do not use at the moment. Then, later you can re-assign the camera back to your active stage as needed.
As soon as you have set up your slots and stages appropriately, you can switch between your slots as usual, but the global metadata panel and some menu items and actions indicate the relationship with the currently assigned stage of the slot. All actions that usually affect all slots now affect only the slots of the currently active stage.
- edit the current stage’s metadata in the metadata panel,
- create shots for all slots of the current stage,
- create still images for all slots of the current stage,
- start or stop recording for all slots of the current stage.
Let’s take a look at an example: As long as you have no stages configured, the global metadata panel affects the metadata for all slots.
However, with stages configured, if you edit the slate info of your main unit, the changes will only affect all slots that are assigned to your main unit’s stage, e.g., “Scene 5C”, “Take 3”, etc.. Then, if you select a slot from the splinter unit, you can edit the slate info there to match it with the slate of your splinter unit’s scene, e.g. “Scene 12F”, “Take 1”, etc.. As soon as you go back to a slot from your main unit you will find all the metadata values retained at the status where you left.
The stage-based recording actions are essential as the start/stop recording events of independent units will rarely happen at the exact same time. With stages configured, you can start recording for all slots of your main unit first, then move to your splinter unit and start recording there. Now the two stages record simultaneously. You can stop the recording for each stage independently in the same way you started recording.
Finally, as soon as you create shots with configured stages, a stage metadata field and a stage smart group allow you to filter your shot library based on the associated stage name. The smart groups make it easy to keep everything in one bin (e.g., “Shooting Day 2”) while having the option to view a group of shots based on their stage metadata or to export looks and reports for each unit separately. Furthermore, the stage metadata can also be used in the wildcards when exporting looks or still images.
How to benefit from Stages?
The possibility of using stages expands the DIT’s toolset and overall leads to a more efficient workflow on set:
Firstly, it saves the DIT from switching between different Livegrade systems, switching back and forth between various Livegrade projects, or using other suboptimal workarounds.
Secondly, it allows productions that want to work with two or more units simultaneously to handle all digital imaging tasks with just one DIT and one cart.
Besides handling independent scenes from different units, you can also use stages to keep a group of slots you temporarily don’t need. Still, you will resume working on that group of slots at a different time during your shoot. Stages allow you to stay focused on your currently active setup while enabling you to switch back to other configurations in no time at all.
In addition to features for efficient handling of multi-camera setups, with the concept of stages, Livegrade Studio also includes options to manage multiple units simultaneously. This way, you can adjust your Livegrade system to meet your production’s requirements at any time, enabling you to fulfill your digital imaging tasks quickly and efficiently. Thus, you are optimally prepared for challenging situations during large-scale production shootings.