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Triller Fight Club PPV Brings Cinema-Style Tools Into the Sports-Production Ring


Triller Fight Club PPV Brings Cinema-Style Tools Into the Sports-Production Ring The goal was to blur the line between live sports and entertainment By Jason Dachman, Chief Editor

Monday, April 19, 2021 - 3:49 pm

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Live sports broadcasts have seen an influx of cinematic cameras in recent months - from CBS Sports' use of the Sony Venice for its NFL and Masters coverage to Fox Sports' extensive deployment of its Megalodon system to Turner Sports' use of the Canon EOS C500 Mark II camera at the NBA All-Star Game. But, on Saturday night, Triller Fight Club took it to the next level with an end-to-end cinema-style live production featuring a whopping 18 Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K cinema cameras.

Triller worked with Echo Entertainment to create a cinematic-style live broadcast.

The four-hour boxing/entertainment PPV event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta was headlined by a fight featuring YouTube-star-turned-boxer Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren and offered a star-studded list of musical performances by Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, and others. The PPV, which reportedly generated 1.5 million PPV buys on Saturday night, aimed to blur the line between live sports and entertainment with a heavy infusion of cinema-style production.

Triller is trying to create a totally different environment for sports and entertainment content. It's not just about boxing or just about the music acts; it's about creating something totally new, said Triller Coordinating Producer, Special Events, Paul Cambria prior to Saturday's fight. With that in mind, we're trying to create a true cinema feel for this event with different cameras, different lenses, and huge sets. We're looking to take your cookie-cutter boxing event and flip it upside down to make it different and more appealing for the younger viewing audience that Triller [appeals to].

Going Cinematic: Cine-Style Cameras, Lenses for Live Sports Triller Fight Club featured live musical performances throughout the night, including this one by Doja Cat.

Triller, the music-based social-media network behind the Fight Club series, enlisted Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Bert Marcus to bring a cinematic style not seen before in sports television. In addition, Echo Entertainment was brought in as the official production partner for the event, and TVG (The Visionary Group) was tapped to design and build the sprawling sets inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

You are certainly seeing [cinematic cameras] a lot more these days on live sports on things like the Super Bowl and the Masters, said Cambria, but it's really just one or two cameras. Our goal, driven by [Marcus], is to have every camera look that way. We're trying to create the look and feel of a film throughout the whole show as much as we can, which is really different than any other live sports show right now.

A total of 18 Sony F-55 cameras were deployed for the cine-style Triller Fight Club production.

Immediately after beginning work on the project, Echo Entertainment hired Rick Siegel as director of photography and Tom Kenny as lighting director. They worked with Echo to evaluate the tools it would need its arsenal to pull off a live, cinematic production like the one Triller was envisioning.

We knew we wanted the cinematic look, so we would need a full-frame sensor to achieve that, say Echo Entertainment Technical Manager Pierce Williams. We looked at a few options, including the Sony Venice, the ARRI Alexa, and the Sony 55. We ended up going with the Sony F-55 because we felt it was the most proven in a live environment. We have 18 of them here, and we've been really happy with them.

Dome Productions' Atlantic mobile unit served as home to all music-performance productions.

As for glass, Echo selected a wide range of Fujinon Cabrio cine-zoom lenses, including the ZK25-300mm T3.5-3.85, XK20-120mm T3.5, ZK85-300mm T2.9-4.0, and ZK19-90mm T2.9.

It all came down to finding that film-like look, and we felt like the [Fujinon] lenses capture that, says Pierce, noting that lighting played an even more integral role than usual, given the unique demands created by a cinema-style live sports show.

Lighting is a huge part for this show because we're not shading cameras as much in the traditional sense; we're not going to open and close iris constantly, he says. Instead, our LD is going to adjust the look through lighting so we can have that raw, gritty look, for both the boxing and the music.

Production Complement: Inside the Compound, in the Ring, On-Stage Three BSI POV cams were deployed, including one on the ref seen here.

Echo and Triller partnered with Dome Productions on the production compound in Atlanta. Dome's Atlantic mobile unit served as production home for the music/entertainment segments, while Thunder handled fight coverage. In addition, a pair of Dome's flex units, Unite and B200, were on hand to house a variety of workstations necessary to socially distance the 173-person broadcast crew under the onsite safety protocols (which also included rigorous testing and specific zones for different departments).

Of the 28 cameras deployed for the Triller Fight Club production, 18 were PMW-F55 4K Super 35mm single-sensor cameras. Each camera was outfitted with a CA-4000 4K fiber-transmission camera-system adaptor back, and the signal ran through a BPU-4000 baseband processor before arriving in the camera-control unit (CCU) in the trucks onsite.

Making a show of this size work with that many [F-55's] is definitely a challenge, says Williams. We have a stack of all those BPUs outside the truck because the racks inside are already full. All the cameras are going through the BPUs outside the truck before they can hit the CCUs. One great thing is that all the cameras are goin
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