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5TEN Provides the Canvas for Netflix’s Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

PLSN Staff • Projection Connection News • February 11, 2019

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

 

NYC – The Netflix original series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj is a media rich, fast changing production that relies on dynamic content to support the theme for each episode. To realize the media heavy set design for broadcast, Production Designer, Marc Janowitz and Producers, Art & Industry, Inc. brought in 5TEN, an LED display design engineering team to deliver the show’s video display systems.

More details from 5TEN (www.510visuals.com):

Minhaj, a Peabody Award-winning comedian for his Netflix special, Homecoming King and former correspondent for The Daily Show, headlines the original series, which explores modern culture, politics, and global news through his irreverent mix of comedy and storytelling. Each weekly episode uses infographics, data, and video content to enhance the topics he covers.

Janowitz, who is known for his concert production designs, also designed Minhaj’s Homecoming King special. He was brought back to be the production and lighting designer for the weekly Patriot Act series. His design utilizes unique shapes and configurations of LED displays to surround Minhaj in an immersive environment, so careful consideration of display products was key to 5TEN’s level of involvement.

“At 5TEN our approach is to work with the designer and client to understand the overall design intent and provide the strongest possible product solution to meet their needs,” comments Ben Price, Design & Engineering Director at 5TEN. “We advised on a range of LED video display products that would be most suited to each component of the design. The way Hasan interacts with the screens and the cameras in a rather close proximity gave us some key challenges to focus in on.”

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

Moiré is always an issue to mitigate with LED screens on broadcast projects. Price explains, “Moiré has always been a big issue with LED displays and cameras so it was important to know how to shoot it to compensate, however there are also specific features of LED displays that can help mitigate this issue as well. To help determine the best solution for this set design, we worked with the producers, the production team, and the executives from Netflix by conducting camera tests with various resolutions of LED products at our studio.” Looking back on the project, Janowitz feels that the testing at 5TEN was “invaluable and well worth the time to find the right product and way to shoot it to minimize this issue. The 5TEN team really helped us understand the available options.”

5TEN was originally brought in to help with the creation of a specification for the video display system. Over time, their scope of work expanded, launching them into a much different role. During the design and development process, it became clear that 5TEN was well-suited to help navigate the product landscape and support the necessary custom choices. “The added benefits of having brand-new gear, the capital improvement value for the TV studio, and the availability of the product in a short turn-around time made it all a logical decision,” explains Norah Beijer, 5TEN’s Commercial Director. “Within six-weeks, the displays arrived at the TV Studio.”

The aesthetic of the video walls in Janowitz’s design was a visual departure from the traditional, over-the-shoulder rectangle of video.  “We quickly dispelled with that approach,” explains Janowitz. “There was a need to have some more recognizable kind of continuous video playing, in order to tell certain stories. But there was also a desire to have it be much more environmental; much more immersive in a way.”

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

In the design process, Janowitz knew that they wanted to avoid being placed in a specific geographical location. He explains, “the less specific we make the location, the more flexible and the more open we are creatively to how we can use screen content to really place us in every single week’s episode and as a result of that, it offers limitless possibilities.”

The main display is a configuration of an ultra-high-resolution 1.9mm LED video product that also consists of 22˚ concave angled banner displays—with the same 1.9mm product—connected to the main display and extending out and wrapping the set. The floor of the set features a diamond-shaped LED floor using a 4.7mm LED product covered with triangular-shaped acrylic diffusers. There’s a 25mm LED screen behind the main display along with 10mm diffused LED strips in the backdrop and 14mm diffused LED strips for the floor edge.

With the show being so media heavy, fast changing, and extremely dynamic content-wise, “the combination of the disguise 4×4 media server along with Barco S3 image processor provided the optimal solution to deliver the content to the display,” comments David Imlau, 5TEN’s Technical Director. All control and data transfer infrastructure— switchers and routers, LED control processors, monitors and programming computers—for the video elements were also provided and installed by 5TEN.

Pam Narozny, Line Producer with Art & Industry, Inc. explains why 5TEN was the right company for this project. “From a technical standpoint, they laid it all out and explained it so we could understand everything to do with the system. They were pretty on point with everything they promised. Between which LED walls we should go with, getting them here, what we would need for control, etc. When we have any issues, they’re always here for us. David and Ben were here pretty much every day of our load-in, and they were just fantastic to work with.”

Janowitz agrees with Narozny and underscores that value of working with 5TEN. “They were so great for a project like this, since they’re not tied to one product line or what’s on a rental shelf. Their whole model is creating a custom display installation to specification. They’re not thinking about what they have in inventory that is going to fit into a project. They’re looking at the end needs of what a design is, and what the possibilities could be. They can pull from any number of resources, including starting from scratch saying, ‘You know what? There isn’t a product, but we can design pieces and parts, and get a manufacturer to make that product.’ So, they were able to pull together all sorts of different pieces, and options, and different sample screens for us to try, test and select. They were great and understood our needs all the way through.”

 

The installation at AMV’s sound stages in NYC was completed in two weeks, plus a week of programming, tweaking, and fine tuning. During the installation of the LED product and video distribution systems, 5TEN’s Price and Imlau were onsite to make sure all the integration in the TV studio went smoothly. “5TEN was able to integrate, communicate, and collaborate with all the studio technicians and engineers,” says Janowitz. “The install was a pretty complicated array between what was going to be in the studio and in the control room. They were there all the way through the test episodes. They were here constantly, not just tweaking it until it works, but they really understood that this was a full-fledged, all-in commitment. You always get the sense working with 5TEN that they’re not going to leave the project until they feel that they have more than satisfied everybody’s needs, and that everyone feels good.”

Janowitz is completely pleased with how Patriot Act turned out and looks from episode to episode. “5TEN totally rocked!  I really appreciate the way they approach a project; it’s very client, design-based, and really doesn’t feel very equipment or profit-based. It was quite refreshing. There was a lot of complicated components that went into this project. Knowing that there was a team like 5TEN, that totally had my back, made me feel that much more confident as a designer, that the project was going to really come out as intended, if not better. This was a pretty complicated production; and it all works and looks great. We are all pleased it’s getting a lot of well-deserved attention.”

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