While the Tennessee weather reports made unwelcome reading during February, the temperature was rising in the Cumberland Caverns, a series of underground caves more than 300 feet below the earth’s surface where Bluegrass Underground was being filmed.
To get to the concerts, tour guides led patrons through the cave and down the 333 feet to the cave past underground waterfalls, water pools and stalactites.
Bringing the luminaries of bluegrass music from their live US radio slot to the nation’s televisions, the show began work on its second series with TNDV’s Aspiration multi-camera SD/HD/3D truck producing both audio and video. At the helm was four-time Emmy-award winner (and TNDV owner) Nic Dugger.
After a successful first season, TNDV and the Bluegrass Underground have regrouped to bring production and acoustical excellence to the show’s live performances from the Volcano Room – a natural amphitheater carved from the flow of two underground rivers that is regarded as one of the most acoustically pure and breathtaking natural spaces in the world.
Nashville-based TNDV, noted for building television and video productions in unique and remote locations, provided all of the HD mobile production systems and technical crew needed to produce the events. TNDV’s Aspiration, the company’s 40-ft expanding-side mobile production truck, supported the remote video and sound production services for broadcast radio and TV.
Parked near the cave, Aspiration’s advanced SD/HD/3D production set-up featured seven cameras and a full audio suite, and is capable of working with the extreme cable runs that the venture requires. Every camera used 1,000 feet of fibre-optic cable to enable it to record and broadcast each concert. Aspiration’s use of fibre-optic cables from camera to truck safeguarded signal, colour and sound quality throughout the process.
Amplifiers located near the stage fed directly to the truck over a digital audio line to deliver the multichannel audio for the TV mix.
‘To capture excellent audio for the BlueGrass underground taping, an enclosed and private audio mixing environment was a must,’ Duggan says. ‘The TNDV Aspiration audio suite was a perfect match.
‘The A1 was able to mix on the Soundcraft Vi4 being fed over the nearly 1,500 feet of optical Madi snake connecting his console top-side at the mouth of the cave, with the stagebox far below in the Volcano Room. Recording was done in triplicate – ProTools 10 was the primary capture platform for the multitrack audio, with a JoeCo BBR64 BlackBox recorder taking a Madi feed and recording each track of each performance individually. Finally, the AJA Ki-Pros recording the 1080i HD video were also taking various stems as a back-up, two channels at a time.’
TNDV: Television is the culmination of many years’ work in broadcast and live production for owner and president Dugger. Together with his crew of freelancers, TNDV has produced events from small single-camera productions all the way up to multi-million dollar international TV events, and takes pride in building custom solutions required for projects like Bluegrass. Other recent productions include The Americana Music Awards and the Madden Challenge, live from the 2012 Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis.
‘Producing an international television series from 333 feet underground takes a lot of creativity and a team with a can-do mentality,’ says Bluegrass Underground producer, Todd Mayo. ‘TNDV and Nic Dugger bring creative solutions to logistical challenges and a positive attitude to bear in all they do. When you combine a track record of excellence with a team of good people that add value to any project, you are way ahead of the curve in producing quality television.’
PBS will broadcast the second season of Bluegrass Underground featuring live performances from bluegrass music stars later in 2012. Bluegrass artists for the 2012 Season include Vince Gill, The Civil Wars, Jerry Douglas, Del McCoury Band and The Time Jumpers.