Phil Peel

Film, video, photography, sound and story

Thursday night was the annual “turning on” of the Christmas Lights in Salisbury, which I’ve been covering on multicamera for at least the last 10 years.

Salisbury Xmas video screen and fireworks

When doing live multicamera events I always have technical backups, as it’s surprising how often equipment goes down. I think probably the new generation of digital computer controlled systems that can do things we only dreamt about a few years ago are amazing,  but have a nasty habit of crashing when you least expect it.  Gareth Henderson from River Studios told me today that he’s gone back to using analogue audio mixers for live events because of similar problems.

I was using the new ATEM Television Studio HD mixer. It had arrived the week before and immediately failed, so this was my second one in a week. This one also had been showing some intermittent faults, but I didn’t have time to return it. I hoped it would be alright on the night.

Well it wasn’t. After  all the cameras were set up and we ready to go,  the mixer locked up and decided it was going to show green   …and nothing else for the rest of the evening.

ATEM HD Video mixer


So onto plan B. I had brought along and set up an standard definition mixer, as a back up. I knew that the large LED screen, though impressive is actually only standard definition. Of course all the cameras had been originally cabled for High Definition SDI, but I had put in extra sd composite cables for this eventuality.  I didn’t really have enough preview monitors, to be able to preview all the camera  feeds, so the vision mixing couldn’t be quite as slick as I would have liked. But the audience didn’t know and it looked great on the huge LED screen.

Here’s Paul vision mixing. Bit of an untidy monitor stack. Smile

Vision Mixing


The show included Salisbury Rock Choir, singers Jamie Eldridge and Steph Murray,The Delorans and the mandatory celebrity…this year Keith Chegwin, who counted down to the fireworks.

Keith Chegwin Multicamera OB


My natural tendency when directing is to point all the cameras at the action, which at the end of the show is the fireworks, but I realised that this is a bit pointless as the audience can see the real thing, so I point the cameras at audience and do an artistic mix of faces and fireworks. The kids in particular love seeing themselves up on the bit screen.

audience on multicamera OB monitor

Robin on camera in front of the Guildhall.


Here’s Paul Witcombe on camera

Paul on camera


Terry resolutely ignoring the wonderful display behind him!

Terry on Camera


..and the view from the audience

big led screen on multicamera OB