Clear-Com the “Purr-Fect” Solution for Kitten Bowl 2020
Only in America – “Kitten Bowl”.
One of the oldest show business adages is “never work with kids or animals.”
Daniel Farmer would certainly disagree with the last part of that saying. As co-owner and DP of KatFarm Productions, Farmer has combined his cinematography skills and love of cats to handle the technical production for the last seven Kitten Bowls, alongside longtime show production company 3 Ball Productions, based in Los Angeles. The annual feline football game/pet adoption broadcast event is a viewer favorite during Super Bowl weekends, so not even COVID could cancel this year’s Bowl.
When COVID health guidelines and travel restrictions forced Farmer to shift to a remote workflow for this year’s event, he worked with Gotham Sound & Communications to deploy the Clear-Com Agent-IC Mobile App and LQ Series IP Interface technologies in a unique configuration to keep the show’s communications and production moving smoothly.
Under normal Kitten Bowl studio production circumstances, the production team builds up to five custom sets, including the main football field set, bars, locker room, purr-king lot for tailgaters, and one year even a cruise ship deck!
“Usually we use the existing comms system and tech structure in whatever studio we’re filming in that year,” Farmer said. “This year we were using a raw, empty studio, and we had to build the show systems in flypacks.”
For 2020, the New York set was scaled back to only a main stage and a cat-scession stand (yes, really!) with fewer crew members and kitten wranglers allowed on site. As an added challenge, the director and executive producers couldn’t travel to the New York location as planned, but still needed to view the set and communicate with the production teams.
“The director needed to see the live feeds of multiple cameras remotely from his home,” Farmer said. “We had been testing other equipment that could do this prior to COVID, but nothing worked with a separate walkie system, three comms channels and a separate video channel, all seamlessly and within a limited budget. Plus, with our accelerated timeline we couldn’t afford any mistakes.”
Peter Schneider, VP at Gotham Sound, immediately recommended the combination of Agent-IC and LQ Series interfaces. He suggested using Agent-IC as everyone’s virtual interface, working with the hard-wired LQ on-set, with programmable buttons that could be hit to switch between camera views.
“With Agent-IC, you’re not tied to a computer,” said Schneider. “There are no firewall issues because it lives in the LQ box which has no keyboard or screen. It essentially has its own built-in VPN system.”
Farmer wrote a how-to guide for the producers and director, and Schneider arranged a demo that went so well they ended up canceling other demos that had been planned to evaluate competitive systems. The show was on again.
During the event, the on-site production team maintained social distancing in the control room and studio, with everyone else working remotely.
“It was no different than all of us being in the same room,” Farmer said. “The system became invisible. Everyone wondered, ‘How is it working so well; there is no delay!’ Our communications were actually cleaner and crisper than anything we had used in prior years.”
The event’s success using this new workflow has convinced Farmer to adopt it for other productions. “There’s satisfaction when your work is validated, and you’re told it made the show. I wouldn’t have had that without Gotham Sound and Clear-Com.”
The North Shore Animal League of New York provided the cats for the event. No cats were harmed in the writing of this story.