The system was developed in Canada under the name Canacast. Mills is promoting it here under the more descriptive name, CrewView.
In essence the system comprises a secure wifi network, which broadcasts the camera feed to those using the app. The system can broadcast two separate camera fees simultaneously, and the app also offers the ability for users to grab stills from the feed. Presently it’s only available for iOS devices.
The feed runs 1.5 frames behind the live action and probably isn’t of sufficient quality to replace the on-set monitors directors work from. That’s not really where Mills sees the business aiming, but it’s plenty good enough to stop lots of other people crowding round the monitor and help everyone to work more efficiently and – hopefully – more effectively.
Art department can use the app to dress to shot, rather than spending time on the constant shifting around of gear that goes on on some location shoots. On the in-production Pork Pie where CrewView is currently in use, it’s the little things that help keep the production moving along smoothly.
For one set-up a member of the art department team had to hide behind a car with a smoke machine. Logged into CrewView, he could check how much space he had to move around in before turning up in shot and ruining a take. Others who work on the edge of shot, boom operators for example, would also benefit from it.
The image quality is good enough for gaffers to see when lighting isn’t performing as expected; for hair, make-up and wardrobe crew it offers the chance to get continuity shots without needing to grab actors between takes.
Sapna Samant’s short film Debts We Pay, which shot in Wellington in mid-April, also used the system. Art director Anuwela Howarth found it very helpful for multi-tasking. She was able to prep material for upcoming shots and keep track of what was happening on set, whether people were still setting up, rehearsing, doing a take.
“I had to be in lots of places, but was able to keep an eye on what was going on,” Howarth said, “and I could see when I needed to get back on to set.”