It's now pretty common for people to use an actioncam to record their bicycle trips. Some people even wear one, with another mounted somewhere on their bike. What isn't so common, however, is to see someone cycling with up to nine cameras going at once. That's just what Emmy-award winning producer Rich Collier does on a regular basis, however, in the production of his Roll Play TV quiz show.
We recently caught up with Rich on the streets of Manhattan, where his show has been running as an interstitial on PBS New York and NYCTV for the past couple of years. A little like Cash Cab in concept, the idea behind the show is that he cycles around the five boroughs, asking random New Yorkers trivia questions about their city. Prizes include Roll Play T-shirts heat-pressed by Rich himself, co-hosting opportunities, and sometimes a bit of cash.
And yes, his bike is heavily festooned with gear.
It currently sports two Panasonic Lumix GH2 Micro Four Thirds cameras with LED lighting panels for shooting Rich and his contestants; three Yi mini actioncams, for getting wider versions of the Lumix cameras' shots; two Contours mounted low on the bike, for getting transitional shots as he's on the move; and, two hat-mounted GoPro Hero3's for recording host and player POV shots.
While all the cameras record sound, primary audio recording is handled by a Sony lapel mic worn by Rich and a shotgun mic pointed at the contestants, both of which feed into a Zoom H4N stereo recorder.
In editing, all of the footage and sound gets synced up using Plural Eyes software, which matches up the audio waveforms from the different recording devices.
Although Roll Play is already seen in 12 million households, Rich would like to see it go national, and ultimately be franchised internationally. When we met him, in fact, he was shooting some test shows requested by PBS National and Fox Business.
"In many respects, the show is a glimpse into the future of television," he tells us. "The technology didn't exist a few years ago to do this series. And since I shoot, produce, write, host and cut everything by myself, Roll Play costs virtually nothing to generate. As technology continues to improve and we get better and better at being one-man bands, I am sure we'll see more shows like this."
You can get a sense of the show in the following video. For another take on a bicycle-based TV program, check out our article on the Pedal Powered Talk Show.
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