AJA Gear Helps Funicular Goats Raise the Cinematic Multi-Camera Production Bar
Funicular Goats, since launching in 2019 with co-founding trio Morgan Kellum, James Coker, and Aaron Cooke at the helm, the company has quickly established a reputation across the live event, broadcast, and streaming production communities. Its multi-camera equipment, workflow, and technical management expertise is tapped for an array of projects, including big-name concert productions, the annual big game halftime show, comedy specials, and more. Funicular Goats embeds itself in every project from beginning to end, using a proven cinematic multi-camera workflow as a starting point, which includes all the standard tech for moving signals throughout the chain and live grading – including AJA equipment.
Typically, producers reach out to Funicular Goats directly regarding projects, but the company also receives inquiries from tech managers, directors, and DPs. Its team works closely with all key project stakeholders to plan a well-thought-out, multi-camera workflow design, and the encompassing tech – including cameras, comms, the engineering fly pack, cameras, wireless systems for the cameras, transmission (digital, broadcast, or satellite) fiber infrastructure, and on-set monitoring solutions. Projects average 10-20 cameras per show, but the team has worked on projects involving up to more than 30 cameras.
Across productions, Funicular Goats must manage different elements and workflow refinement, but ninety percent of the time, the project demands live grading, which means AJA FS-HDR real-time HDR/WCG converters are on set. Running a camera log feed through the FS-HDR allows the team to achieve a more comprehensive range of RGB to build a better look than using just an RCP camera control alone.
“Productions are often looking for ways to execute their projects but aren’t certain how to do it, so they lean on us. We advise them on how to make it happen and help them achieve the look they’re aiming for in the most efficient way,” shares Morgan. “We have a comfortable history of doing shows in certain ways and using specific tools (like FS-HDR for live color grading and frame sync), so we’ll lean into that, but we also figure out how to modify the workflow and our fly packs and fiber systems to suit each client’s specific needs.”
Projects typically require SDR delivery, but Funicular Goats is seeing HDR requests grow, especially for concert productions and larger scale event broadcasts. To this end, FS-HDR has become a Swiss army knife for the team. James shares, “We love FS-HDR, from its redundant power to the fact that we can count on it to do what it’s supposed to without fail. It has great features for everything from embedding to frame syncing and live grading; it does it all.”
FS-HDR also supports conversion needs across Funicular Goat projects. The team may need to use it to help step down a 12G-SDI or 6G-SDI feed from a cinema camera to 1080 for viewing, as well as for coloring and recording. The device also enables frame rate conversion, which the team will leverage when moving from 24p to a broadcast standard for a truck workflow. They might bring back a log feed 23.98p that will hit their distribution amplifier (DA) and into a switcher where they cut 23p. Out of the DA, that feed might go to the FS-HDR, where they can then go 29.9p and elsewhere with it to a line cut, and cut 29.97p for broadcast.
In addition to live grading, recording is essential to Funicular Goats’ workflow designs. The team often completes 4K recordings with a cinema camera, with a 1080 workflow out for a reference line for added flexibility. If delivering a 1080 project, they’ll record the loaded or color corrected 1080 files to AJA Ki Pro Ultra 12G ProRes and DNx recorders/players. This approach ensures they have a master finish of the project as well as the 4K log footage to work with. If footage is already color corrected, Funicular Goats can do an online cleanup with those files or edit with them as well. They may opt to use Ki Pro Ultra 12G as a quad HD recorder for four 1080 feeds on one project, or for backup 1080 recordings, ISOs of the cameras, or to create multiple copies of a program or multiple views on others. Sometimes, they’ll even do a 6G-SDI or 12G-SDI into the Ki Pro Ultra 12G. When they need to hand off thumb drives with H.264 recordings after an event, they often use AJA Ki Pro GO.
“We love our Ki Pros because they’re so flexible; they give us a lot of options and provide a cost-effective way to record in different flavors. We get edit ready files that we can have our downloader dump onto a drive to be shared with production,” adds Morgan. “AJA gear like Ki Pro Ultra 12G and FS-HDR are staples in our inventory, and we use them on nearly every show because they’ve got such a great track record of being reliable. We also use of a ton of other AJA products – everything from the KUMO 3232-12G routers, to the 12GDA and Hi5 Mini-Converters, throw down distribution amplifiers, and FS2 frame syncs.”
Funicular Goats’ credits span the Elton John concert at Dodger Stadium, “The Weekend: Live at SoFi Stadium” for HBO Max, as well as comedy specials and the annual big game, and more. For the big game halftime show earlier this year, Funicular Goats captured 29.97p from Sony VENICE 2 cameras. The feeds were sent to its production truck with an AJA KUMO 3232-12G router on-board. The feeds hit their distribution amplifiers first, and were then sent through the router and Funicular Goats’ 12 FS-HDRs, as well as through 16 additional FS-HDRs on site, and then into the switcher and out for broadcast distribution. The FS-HDRs enabled the DIT crew to work with the log and HDR feeds and bounce them back and forth while also supporting frame syncing to lock all feeds with the main program audio.
Whether servicing the halftime show production, a concert, or a comedy special, Funicular Goats excels at finding innovative ways to use new equipment to help clients meet and exceed their production goals. Morgan concludes, “Our dedication to the technology and craft shines through in the look and feel of every project. What gets me excited to come to work each day are the great team of people I work with and the fact that I get to play a part in influencing the look and feel of these projects. Getting to play with cool gear from AJA gear often is a bonus.”