Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is among the defining documentary series in television, breaking the record for the most viewed series in PBS history. Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson has recently stepped in for the late Sagan and developed his own update to the science special with Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
The series began its network run this March on Fox, and Recording Arts graduate Paul Diaz was on hand to help produce a special webcast before the premiere. Incorporating footage from different locations, including the White House, it was an impressive logistical undertaking for him and the dozens of other technicians involved.
“For the premiere of the show we had crews throughout the country,” he says. “Some were at the White House for a speech from the President, while I was a camera operator at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles where they had a Q+A. Working on something live like this, you only have one shot to do it, and that’s actually what I like about this kind of work, it’s always exciting.”
The Q+A segment Paul shot featured series host Neil Degrasse Tyson and producer Seth McFarlane, and was handled by Sweetwater Digital. He’s been with the L.A. production company as digital video/audio engineer for over two years, and has done live shoots for American Idol, The People’s Choice Awards, X Factor, and many other broadcast events.
The company has also been a leader in high quality video webcasting, which is apparent in their Cosmos footage. Paul explained that the merging of television and the Web is only going to make these kind of events more common, and is looking forward to the different types of content that it will bring his way as a video developer.
“It was such a big deal with the people involved, and it was cool that they embraced this technology,” he says. “It was an interesting way to a debut a show, and I hope it becomes more of a trend in the future because the quality is there now. It was in 1080p as well, so it’s like you’re watching from your cable provider. We treated it like we would treat any major network show, and that’s the difference in what you saw.”