Rittor Music is a Japanese company known for its educational music publications and is now steadily expanding its customer base and business by livestreaming on YouTube and other platforms. We talked to Director and Studio Senior Executive Manager Susumu Kunisaki about why this came about and how they operate these highly successful broadcasts.
When we were making VHS and DVD packs, for the most part we outsourced the making of videos to an external production company. We still do this even now that we’ve transitioned to uploading videos to the Internet, as we don’t want to spend lots of time editing recordings of events. For instance, if we want to show a famous drummer giving an amazing performance, we prefer to livestream it since this allows us to share it with their fans in real time. Of course, we also need to archive the event for people who weren’t able to watch it live, but we don’t do any post-processing on the footage in that case. Rather than spending time editing, we move straight on to the next production, which increases the volume of content we can put out. So with Rittor Base, we shoot using a multi-camera setup and only record the switcher’s PGM OUT feed as-is, so we don’t need to save the footage taken by each camera. This basically means our workflow gets rid of the post-production stage and focuses on productivity.
People are often surprised to hear that I handle all the operations myself… Everything from operating the switcher to even changing camera angles. I can do everything from my seat at the switcher since the remote cameras have controllers.
We started Rittor Base in 2018 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of our company’s founding. Rather than running it as a studio for hire, we produce content such as our own original lectures and events, instrument-related promotions and collaborations with equipment manufacturers like Sony, where we can show off their products. In March 2019, we held an event called “Touch that Sound!” in collaboration with Sony, using SSVR (Sonic Surf VR: a spatial audio technology developed by Sony). If a manufacturer were to hold an event like this by themselves, it would end up feeling too much like an advert. But getting artists like Cornelius and Boom Boom Satellites involved in an event where they use the equipment as part of the presentation changes how people view the exhibitors’ products. With Rittor Base, we can effectively promote products as we run all stage of the process, from planning events to running them, as well as streaming and archiving them.
The other day, we streamed a panel discussion with the band Sakanaction. The stream had over 3,000 views, with more than 800 viewers watching live. While Rittor Base can’t accommodate hundreds of people attending in person, livestreaming really allows us to expand our horizons and get more eyes on our content.
For the switcher, we went with the MCX-500. For the cameras, we use a PXW-Z90 mainly for wide shots, with two SRG-360SHE remote cameras on the left and right—one configured on each side—and finally a DSC-RX0 for high-angle shots and close-ups of the performers playing. All of these cameras are connected to the MCX-500.
We looked into a variety of brands for both the cameras and the switcher, but we settled on the MCX-500 because it has a built-in encoder that lets us stream directly to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and more by connecting an Ethernet cable. It also has a recording function that records the switched video directly to an SD card on the fly. This in particular perfectly suits our goal as a studio of not editing videos after events. The XLR audio input was also a big plus. We have a separate audio mixer, and being able to input the high-quality audio mixed there directly into the MCX-500 at the same professional quality is great for us.
I consider myself quite knowledgeable about audio equipment, but I don’t know nearly as much when it comes to video equipment. That said, even I find the MCX-500 easy to use. People are often surprised to hear that I handle all the operations myself when filming an event or streaming. Everything from operating the switcher to even changing camera angles. I can do everything from my seat at the switcher since the remote cameras have controllers. In some cases I even host the event as well (laughs). Sometimes running costs can become an issue when running a space equipped for broadcasting, but the Sony system we installed allows us to run it with a small number of people, which has helped us to keep costs down.
We post details about the date and time of upcoming streaming events on our website (rittorbase.jp) in advance. To help gradually build up excitement for the start of an event, we stream scenic shots of the venue shortly before the event is due to begin, and insert the title immediately before the event starts.
For recording video, we simply save it to the MCX-500’s SD card. This acts as a sort-of backup, as the livestreamed video will also be archived on YouTube, for instance. As I mentioned before, we almost never put SD cards into the cameras as we don’t record the video footage from each of them.