Interview with Robert Miller: Pioneering the Future of Skystorm’s Live Broadcast Division
What can you tell us about the history of Skystorm Live?
The Skystorm Live division was established approximately 17 to 18 years ago when we were heavily involved in modeling shows. At the time, we were renting flypacks and live production gear, but rentals came with integration challenges, gear mismatches, and functionality issues. Tired of dealing with these challenges, we decided to build our own kit tailored to our needs. Initially, it was for our convenience, but soon, people started inquiring about renting. Recognizing a potential income stream, we ventured into renting our gear to clients, starting in the SD era and later transitioning to HD. Recently, we introduced our 4K HDR flypack and our 4k HDR mobile unit, which I think makes us one of the only companies in Florida to upgrade to this type of system. With this capital investment we are aiming to stay at the forefront of technology and deliver cost-effective live broadcast and streaming production now at a much higher quality level.
Can you explain what a flypack is?
A flypack is essentially a portable, self-contained equipment cabinet that houses all the essential gear needed to facilitate live video production. Picture it as a compact and highly organized video production studio, packed and ready to ‘fly’ to any location for on-the-go broadcasting.
Can you provide an overview of what a mobile production unit truck is?
Absolutely! A mobile production unit truck, often referred to as a production truck or OB truck (Outside Broadcast truck), is a specialized vehicle usually a trailer or a truck equipped custom built to house video equipment and create a mini TV studio capable of live and on-location broadcasting of events.
Picture it as a rolling control room, fully equipped with state-of-the-art broadcasting gear and staffed by a team of skilled professionals. These trucks are like a compact, mobile version of a studio, providing everything needed to capture, produce, and broadcast live events such as sports matches, concerts, news broadcasts, and more.
Inside the mobile unit, you’ll find the mini TV studio with built-in tables, chairs, air conditioning and video screens everywhere, including the flypacks, video camera control units, graphics generators, color correction systems also called paint boxes and the video encoding devices essential for sending the live production signal to the world.
At what point did you transition from renting gear to operating out of a truck?
From the inception of our gear, it was housed in a trailer. When we upgraded to HD equipment, we acquired a trailer component to accommodate the gear. The move from SD to HD marked a significant shift in the growth of our business.
What matters in live mobile broadcast production?
In live mobile broadcast production, three factors are crucial: having cutting-edge tools, a skilled and experienced team, and top-notch customer service.
Employing the latest high-end industry-standard gear, which has stood the test of time, such as Sony cameras and ROSS switchers, is imperative. Having industry-standard gear allows our technical staff, who are sometimes temporary, to seamlessly integrate into our projects and work with equipment they are already familiar with, providing us with a significant advantage. Experience and expertise matter greatly because we need adaptability and quick problem-solving during live broadcasts. When you are live and you run into an equipment glitch you don’t have the luxury of stopping the show, so experience comes into play to be able to not only solve technical problems quickly but to also come prepared with a plan A, B and C. This level of preparation stems from experience and that is why it matters to have the best and most experienced staff. Because In live production it counts. Exceptional customer service is a cornerstone of everything we do at Skystorm, we aim for long-term repeat clients, and you can only achieve that when you put clients first. So our company success is built on caring about our clients success and delivering outstanding results and excellent and responsive customer service.
Can you give me an introduction to the gear?
Our gear lineup includes Sony cameras, ROSS switchers, and various industry-standard components. The same tech configuration was applied to our 4K setup, incorporating the latest 4K HDR Sony cameras and lenses and ROSS switchers to ensure optimal performance and successful shows. Customers and engineers can download a full specifications list for our mobile HD and 4K truck and our HD and 4K flypacks from our website.
What is the difference between the HD and 4K capabilities?
4K offers a amazing quality compared to HD, especially for large LED walls where HD images can lose detail. The flexibility and crisp quality of 4K make it ideal for corporate events, concerts, and future-proofing your footage.
Who can use these services?
Flypacks are used across event production companies, television broadcasters, concerts, corporate events, conferences, educational institutions, religious ministries, universities and colleges. Flypacks are great when a compact and portable setup is preferrable. In the realm of broadcasting, television broadcasters and networks leverage flypacks to cover breaking news, live interviews, and events where the flypacks serve as mobile control rooms to produce live events, streaming and remote learning.
Among the industries and users mentioned, which would benefit the most from advanced 4K HDR capabilities?
I think companies prioritizing superior visuals and seeking to stand out gain the most from advanced 4K HDR services. 4K HDR elevates production quality and viewer experience across visual displays.
When it comes to purchasing these services, who typically takes the lead – technical or non-technical roles?
Mostly technical but we are working on reaching out to non-technical roles as we see an increased demand from CEOs, event managers, meeting planners, and marketing director types who are increasingly learning the benefits of multi-camera shoots for blogs, training programs, conferences, where having a live stream is beneficial or when having a multi-camera edit that is 95% ready saves a lot of time and money. But for the technical types like broadcast engineers and technical directors they usually know exactly what gear they need and often they are ecstatic when they see the 4k HDR flypack and 4k HDR mobile unit specs sheet. This type of gear setup is not cheap and it’s hard to find, so they are happy not only with the availability but with the service and the complete package of services we provide.
Do you work with AV and Tradeshow companies?
Absolutely, we collaborate with AV and Tradeshow companies, viewing them as partners rather than competitors. We offer equipment-only or fully staffed packages, ensuring seamless integration and operation.
What does the future hold for Skystorm Live?
With our introduction of 4K HDR capabilities, we’re set to lead the local Orlando video production and A/V market in event production services, targeting high-end trade shows, concerts, corporate and marketing events seeking superior quality. As a company, we have put lots of time and resources into our live broadcast team, equipment, and services, so you could say that we’re ‘geared’ for continuous growth and success, and we are ready to pioneer the future of live broadcasting.