TNDV Helps ‘Bluegrass Underground’ Return to PBS
NASHVILLE—TNDV announced that it has wrapped up television production services for new episodes of “Bluegrass Underground: The Caverns Sessions,” which will return to PBS this year for its 11th season.
TNDV, which is a division of Live Media Group Holdings, provided all the equipment and technical staff for 10 seasons of the national series.
The live concerts were captured by TNDV’s production team from March 18-20 at The Caverns, which became the official venue for “Bluegrass Underground” performances for Season 10. Located in Grundy County, Tennessee, The Caverns is an underground amphitheater housed in a natural cave. While the facility now includes The Caverns Above Ground amphitheater, which was open during the pandemic, The Caverns sessions were recorded in the underground concert hall.
“It was the rebirth of ‘Bluegrass Underground’,” said Nic Dugger, Chief Marketing Officer, Live Media Group Holdings. “We tried to produce new episodes several times during the pandemic, but we finally got dates in the books. It was like bringing the family together again, but with a new attitude.
TNDV used Aspiration, its 40-foot expando truck anchored by a Grass Valley K-Frame production mixer, for the shoot. Setup was simplified through the use of single-mode fiber infrastructure, which TNDV installed for a previous season, as well as on-site power which eliminated the need for generators. The Caverns are “mostly off-road,” Dugger explained, so a Class A truck wasn’t an option.
While Dugger said the performance has a “very solid line cut,” each of the truck’s eight Hitachi SK-HD1200 cameras were ISO recorded on AJA Ki Pro Rack devices for release. “The director and assistant director play a team role to ensure we have accurate coverage on all bands,” he added. “The director basically acts as a technical director, because he likes to hit his own show. As the song is performed live, the assistant director tells the cameramen what is going to happen. When there is a guitar solo, we already have one or more cameras ready to capture the performance. »
The production featured 64 channels of audio, engineered through a Soundcraft Vi3000 mixer and recorded on Pro Tools, with Sound Devices PIX 270i recorders used as backup. “In addition to the groups, we also have to put the microphone in the room,” he explained. “We need the noise of the crowd and the applause. And because so much of the music is post-mixed, we record it in Pro Tools.
Dugger added that all entities involved in the production have learned to work safely with audiences, crews and performers in accordance with pandemic safety protocols. This included a strong TNDV team of production professionals. Dugger’s team included eight cameramen and a video shader for in-camera color correction, in addition to the team of two directors.
The new season will air nationally on PBS in partnership with WCTE, the PBS member station in Cookeville, Tennessee, which serves the Upper Cumberland area. Scheduled artists include Del McCoury Band, Widespread Panic, Lucinda Williams and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.