Case Study: Solving Livestreaming Complexity for a Commercial Production

Challenge
A producer and longtime Cobalt client came to us with this Safe Shoot challenge. The producer’s client, a well-known health & beauty brand, needed to connect about twenty-five collaborators via Livestream. Team members were spread out across many different U.S. cities, and the project required high-res images, shared in real-time, from multiple sources. Our producer-client wanted to know, could we make it bulletproof?

Solution
Thankfully, Team Cobalt has the technical expertise and tools in place to solve Livestreaming challenges just like this one. We provided the production team—a hybrid of in-person and remote collaborators—with HD footage straight from the camera, but that’s not all! We also set up a camera in the wardrobe department, so decision-makers could make real-time wardrobe approvals from anywhere. To manage a high number of collaborators, we handpicked our video conference platform for its robust group chat and private sidebar chat features. Our facility is equipped with reliable hardwired internet with 850mb per second bandwidth for ultimate speed and stability. To reduce crew size onset, we employed an all-in-one encoder, switcher, and recorder. And to maximize versatility, we’re set up with world-class video format conversion capabilities—that means we can accept footage in any HD format. This alone is a major consideration since there are at least a dozen HD formats in use.

Impact
We were able to meet the project’s complex Livestreaming requirements beautifully, and our client didn’t have to worry about a thing. With our copious private breakout spaces, the Livestream’s chief engineer (Team Cobalt’s Chloe) was able to maintain her distance to reduce the number of people on set. And while we offered some options that this production didn’t use (like recording), we were able to go the extra mile by branding the livestream with our clients logo to the HD teleconference footage for a highly-polished presentation.

Let’s Work Together!


The Cobalt Experience and Why it Matters

As a "by producers, for producers" Turnkey Soundstage, we understand the pressure productions feel even during the best of times. We manage teams, budgets, and all sorts of complexity. We also nurture creativity and collaboration— all at the same time. It’s a tall order anytime! But during these times... everything is magnified... So, if your workspace is uncomfortable or inconvenient, you’re really gonna feel it.

Nothing kills good energy and creativity more than stress and struggle; therefore, our “Soundstage Reimagined” mindset is all about practicality and thoughtfulness. We care deeply about helping our clients raise the vibration onset, so everyone can feel their best, to focus on the work. With non-traditional soundstage amenities like relaxation areas, aromatherapy, cozy furnishings, and our VIP Spa Trolley, we welcome you to make yourself a home away from home with us.

Clients tell us their days on set are invigorated by access to ‘social-distance-friendly’ breakout spaces with flexible work stations, private conference rooms, and unique accommodations like The Hoboken House. Private spaces are essential to us, as are the areas that also support collaborative work. Throughout our facility you’ll find a balance of both — designed to boost performance, productivity, and yes—Happiness :)

Providing a production environment that’s furnished, with access to an exceptional inventory of tools and technology is our pleasure. We offer advanced Livestreaming and Video Village with networked monitors and stage views strategically positioned throughout our space. This way, teams can spread out, share ideas, keep track of shooting, and collaborate in real-time. And our sweet Hoboken Village offers a chill vibe to help everyone relax just a titch more than they might in good ole, industrial Brooklyn.

If you haven’t already, please come by to check us out—either virtually or in-person. We love turning people on to Hoboken’s unique charm, and sharing all that EXTRA hospitality we put into the Cobalt experience.

Get in touch.


Case Study: Creating Complex Tabletop VFX for Vallarta

Challenge
We leaned heavily on our team's deep expertise and our comprehensive inventory of onsite Motion Control robotics for a recent commercial shoot with Hispanic grocery store chain, Vallarta. To produce a commercial where Vallarta's vibrant fresh flavors come alive, the store's meat, vegetables, herbs, spices, and citrus juices needed to collide on camera, choreographed in a midair ballet—not all at the same time, but sequentially. Vallarta knew what they wanted to see, but they needed Cobalt's extensive background knowledge to realize their vision.

Solution
To deliver Vallarta's delicious concept, we created one-of-a-kind rigs to orchestrate the shoot's astounding array of manual, pneumatic, electromagnetic, and robotic elements. By shooting 1000 frames a second, a tenth of a second's action was slowed down to 4 seconds onscreen. This enabled Vallarta to show audiences citrus juices meeting onions, then adding peppers, and so on, with ingredients crashing in the specific order and combination the client envisioned. Using our programmable logic computer, we empowered this production to trigger multiple rigs with millisecond accuracy, releasing slingshots laden with fresh ingredients so they'd spring into action in front of the camera. To simulate wood-fired grilling, we built a unique grill rigged with lights and gas jets to create the appearance of flames, embers, and sparks coming up through it. Then, a manually-operated rig allowed the camera to look up through the grill and flames, and pivot to look down onto the sizzling steak.

Impact
We specialize in solving complex technical challenges, so our Turnkey soundstage is well-equipped to support clients with advanced rigs and technology. Even with many decades of Motion Control magic behind us, the complexity of these shots and this installation's uniqueness will stand as a testament to our "Science in the Service of Art" credo. With our unique rigs, Vallarta captured their food on camera from new and exciting perspectives. Their audiences will have the opportunity to experience the stores' freshness and flavor in a whole new way. And, when the shoot wrapped, everyone left happy :)

Let’s Work Together!


How We’re Using Safe Shoot Tools to Help Producers

Helping producers problem-solve is our specialty.
Get to know our pandemic-smart Turnkey soundstage and let our experienced team help you make the most of it.

Livestreaming and Video Village
We recommend Livestreaming as a way to limit crew size on set. Clients and collaborators can keep tabs from anywhere with continuous HD quality footage delivered in real-time. For over a decade, we’ve invested in our Industry-leading Livestream capabilities, and mastered the skills needed to support your creative vision and remote working requirements. Already on our second generation of Livestreaming hardware, we have the tools in place to help you switch and stream from multiple video sources. Streaming from Video Village unlocks endless additional options for video inputs and content! We’re always here to help you strategize and customize the setup that’s right for you.

Virtual Sets
A must-have resource for producers and directors, our Virtual Backlot is more essential than ever for shooting safely in a pandemic. As the first soundstage to offer Virtual Sets to the public on the East Coast, we’ve been able to help clients like IBM and Lowe’s make the most of this high-tech social distancing tool. Virtual Sets deliver a degree of rich, photorealistic detail that’s completely convincing—and it works without needing to build practical sets or location travel. Our Virtual Backlot unlocks an infinite world of creative potential where you can shoot in any setting, real or imagined— safely.

Remote Camerawork Robotics
Sometimes called “Precision Playback”, Motion Control tools make it possible to program and repeat complex camera moves with a degree of precision that is impossible for humans to replicate. In today’s production landscape, Cobalt’s comprehensive inventory of Motion Control tools empowers our clients to remote-control cameras by reducing crew on set by two to three people. When pre-programming and editing camera moves, remotely, you can shoot without a camera operator, camera assistant, and focus puller physically on set. We can even operate multiple rigged devices, remotely, to help maintain social distancing.

Founded by producers for producers, Cobalt understands your needs better than your average soundstage. We’re here to deliver the solutions you need in these unprecedented times.

Reach out anytime.


Why Our Clients Love Hoboken

With most Tri-State soundstages consolidated in industrial Brooklyn, our quaint Hoboken village setting stands out. "Hollywood on the Hudson” has a lot to love—especially for clients. Here are some of the top reasons our clients say they love working with us here in Hoboken.

Closer and Convenient
Some productions choose Brooklyn locations because that's where many PA's live. Our clients, on the other hand, appreciate that we're only 15 minutes from Midtown. They often choose to fly into Newark to stay at the W Hotel in Hoboken—they don't want to deal with JFK just to be closer to Avenue W! The spectacular view of NYC's skyline from the W Hotel’s river rooms ALONE is worth the trip. Hoboken also gets high praise for accessibility. The data company, AllTransit, gives our PATH train, bus, and ferry options a score of 9.5 for our "superlative combination of trips per week." The "reverse-commute" makes driving here remarkably fast and stress-free, too. And as a bonus, after the shoot, it's easy to head straight Upstate like we do on weekends, or head south to explore the Jersey shore :)

Small-Town Vibe
Let's be honest. When your client steps out for a breather, being nestled between a salvage yard and an auto body shop isn't relaxing or hospitable. The "West, West Village", as we call it, is a destination in its own right and the perfect place to avoid crowds of tourists. Want to kick back after production wraps for the day? Grab a burger at Hoboken's oldest bar, The Elysian Café, a charming stroll away from our soundstage and Hoboken House locations. Afterward, stretch your legs along the waterfront or check out our historic brownstones.

Drive-Up Suppliers
Our NYC colleagues know what we're talking about... Parking can make or break your day. The larger lighting and grip houses moved to NJ years ago to take advantage of the wide-open spaces. And they all have big ole American parking lots where it's easy to roll up, load up, and head out. We love Brooklyn, but when the nearest lot is 15 minutes away, whoever is trying to snag a spot and parallel-park a truck will wish you were shooting here in New Jersey where the prop shops and grip houses have plenty of accessible parking.

Our clients love Hoboken because it's ultra-convenient and offers a laid-back college town vibe. If you haven't experienced it yet, let us know! Ha - we'll have to show you around!!

Get in touch.


How We’re Disrupting the Soundstage Industry.

The Tri-State production community is living and working in an era of disruption where rapid change redefines how we live and work. While it’s taken a lot of hard work to adapt to new conditions, at Cobalt, disruption is in our DNA. We founded Cobalt to deliver a new kind of production experience on the East Coast with amenities and technologies previously only available in LA. Read on for some thoughts about how and why we do things differently here— and how we’re helping our clients rise above challenges in changing times.

Extraordinary Client Experience
The soundstage is often thought of as a blank slate, but the total experience shapes your work and working relationships in profound ways. Even the village-style setting of our Hoboken neighborhood sets the stage for a calm, focused work experience compared to a more-typical industrial environment. (You can take the girl out of small-town Texas, but you can’t take the small-town vibes out of the girl. :) ) VIP clients often ask for Cobalt by name because of our uncrowded, discreet location with comfortable, fully-furnished spaces and generous free amenities. We’re well prepared for social distancing because our soundstage facility is filled with private rooms and areas for working and regrouping away from the action while still connected through Video Village.

Cutting-Edge Technology
We’ve made it our business to become experts in Virtual Production techniques, robotics-based Remote Camerawork, and Livestreaming. We've invested in the tools to make them ultra-accessible to our clients. Our Virtual Backlot, the first on the East Coast, can set your story anywhere you can imagine, without going on location. Our Motion Control robotics help boost creativity while limiting crew size. Our advanced Livestreaming capabilities have become a must-have for pandemic-smart productions to collaborate effectively no matter where team members are based. Beyond the digital realm, we offer more inventory onsite than any other soundstage we know, with Leica Summacron lenses, rigging, lights, a fully-stocked Home Ec kitchen, off charts broadband, yadda, yadda ;)

Strategic Client Support
Helping producers problem-solve their projects is one of our specialties. Producers, managers, and coordinators love working at Cobalt because we understand their challenges wayyyy better than your average soundstage. As a company founded by producers, for producers, we have the expertise to offer strategic support you won’t find anywhere else. When you book our locations and services for your productions, we take the time to listen, and we’re quick to offer solutions that save productions time, money, and stress.

As disruption intensifies and reshapes our Industry, we’re here to help position you at the forefront of creativity and innovation.

Disrupt with us.


Safe Shoot Update: How productions are shooting safely with us

We want to thank our clients and production companies who are trailblazing the world of Safe Shoots with us. We’re honored that you chose us to support you!

Four ways
we’re helping clients shoot safely:

1.
We maintain a thoroughly disinfected space and equipment, with enhanced protocols that include running our industrial-sized ozone machine between shoots.

2.
Our turnkey soundstage offers a comprehensive inventory of onsite production tools supporting small crew size, plus emergency expendables for last-minute problem-solving without needing to run around to multiple vendors.

3.
We’re committed to following New Jersey’s good safety guidelines concerning reduced occupancy, mask use, virus mitigation, and more.

4.
We take our cues from you. Whatever your unique requirements are, we’re happy to help accommodate them, so your Safe Shoot is a success!

Join our TV and commercial clients who are back to work and shooting safely with us! We’re always here to help you strategize and succeed :)


Tabletop is Trending

In “The Great Film Production Renaissance: Are You Ready,” producer/entertainment executive, Richard Janes, writes about the role of innovation in getting the green light from advertising executives. Some are skipping live-action, all together, and sending the same message via tabletop and animation shoots. To produce and distribute content at the speed of change, we at Cobalt, see an exciting movement toward highly-controlled Tabletop cinematography and macro techniques. We’ve always loved this way of working because it’s the ultimate blend of art and science. Creative teams dream up wildly imaginative concepts, and technical problem-solvers dream up inventive ways to make them happen.

New Challenges (and Opportunities) for Advertisers
The New York Times reported ;) that “the pandemic has caused companies to slash TV ad budgets by more than 40 percent— according to the research firm, Kantar. In response, networks have offered commercial time at double-digit discounts.” As a result, producers need to be more competitive and more resourceful than ever to help their clients take advantage of these low-cost media buying opportunities and higher-than-ever viewership. Edward E. Timke, an advertising expert at Duke University, told the Times, “This is going to be a watershed moment in history, where ad agencies or their clients are being forced to rethink how they produce and how they create,” he said. We already see this happening, and Cobalt offers many readily-available alternatives to help you create content that doesn’t compromise on creativity.

The Safe Shoot Dream Team: Tabletop and CG
The “product-as-hero” approach has always been effective in connecting with customers. Cobalt clients, like Friendly’s Ice Cream and others, have charmed viewers by using a hybrid strategy that combines the limitless creativity of Computer Graphics with the down-to-earth practicality of Tabletop shooting. To introduce new products, Friendly’s leveraged our turnkey offering to their advantage, shooting ice cream in Tabletop and magically dropping in toppings via CG. Any production can leverage our comprehensive food styling kitchen, in-house rigging, Motion Control robotics, and Virtual Backlot—just like Friendly’s did. Our Motion Control robotics even make it possible to control camera moves, remotely.
Now is the time to shoot.

Are you taking advantage of low-cost airtime and sky-high viewership?

Let’s talk - (201) 963-5900


Why we call Hoboken "Hollywood on the Hudson"

Hoboken, aka “The West, West Village.”
Cobalt offers Hollywood’s best production tools right here in Hoboken— like our cutting-edge Virtual Backlot—the only Virtual Sets available to the public on the East Coast. We also provide Livestreaming and Motion Control robotics for Remote Camerawork along with our comprehensive inventory of lights, lenses, and rigging tools.

Two Locations for Safe Shoots
Cobalt’s 12,000 square foot production facility features a 7,000 square foot soundstage, and 20-foot ceilings. Three blocks away, we have Hoboken House, our fully-furnished, sun-drenched 2,000 square foot Carriage House.

NJ’s Tax Breaks Top New York’s
New Jersey’s Film & TV Tax Credit includes up to 35% percent of ABOVE AND BELOW the line qualified expenses when you “set up your entity” in the Garden State. New York’s tax credit pertains to only below the line expenses.

Location. Location. Location.
Fifteen minutes from Midtown Manhattan, our Hoboken soundstage is a quick reverse-commute from the city by car. Hoboken also offers a breezy, open-air, public transportation option via the NY Waterway ferry. We're open and safe.

Learn more here, and let us know how we can help with your next safe shoot.


We help producers overcome complexity to shoot with confidence.

We’re Turnkey.
Our onsite equipment inventory and amenities simplify and streamline setting up your production. Turnkey means everything is already here, sanitized, and ready to roll. Our turnkey production tools include, but aren’t limited to: Motion control robotics, rigging, lights, high-end lenses & cameras, home ec kitchen, Livestreaming, Video Village, and the East Coast’s 1st Virtual Backlot for working with Virtual Sets for "The New Production Era".

We’re Safe.
Together with our enhanced disinfecting protocols and industrial-sized Ozone air purifiers, Cobalt’s size and layout also makes it easier to shoot safe. Our 12,000 square foot facility includes a 7,000 square foot soundstage— plus several separate, fully-networked, fully furnished spaces. Btw, our 20-foot ceilings also support a safer ratio of air space-to-people. And three blocks away, our furnished 2,000 square foot Carriage House is a safe, private place to work, shoot, and stay.

We’re Open.
New Jersey has been supportive of us as we reopen, and our safe shooting protocols meet or exceed all state standards. As a by-producers, for-producers soundstage, we’re uniquely equipped to understand your needs and offer help. Reach out to us for more information on New Jersey’s virus mitigation requirements, the New Jersey Film and TV Tax Credit, and anything else you need to know to shoot with confidence. We’re always here to support you.