The PIX 270i is the playback and backup rack-mount video recorder of choice for Sundance Film Festival 2016.

Crowd at 2016 Sundance Film Festival
© 2016 Sundance Institute | Photo by Stephen Speckman

As Sundance Film Festival’s Technical Director of Exhibition and Production, Holden Payne was presented with the daunting task of making sure that the more than 700 screenings and events in more than 30 locations ran flawlessly at Park City’s famed Film Festival. Payne and team were also responsible for ensuring that all intermission and auxiliary related video content, as well as playback and backup, ran without any hitches. Payne searched for a playback deck, which would robustly support the ProRes codec that could reliably deliver all of this to the various festival screens, and he turned to Video Devices’ rack-mount PIX 270i video recorders.

The Festival relied on over 25 PIX 270i recorders, as well as over one hundred PIX-CADDY 2 SSD caddies used for storing content screened at the Festival. The PIX 270i provides tapeless, file-based recording and playback with the ability to access and transfer high-quality files over Ethernet — ideal capabilities to help the festival keep pace with the digital workflows of today’s filmmakers.

One of the PIX 270i's used at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

“We were looking for a solution that could accommodate ProRes files, as it is a form that filmmakers are now working in, replacing the outdated HDCAM format,” says Payne. “We heard good things about Video Devices, and after researching different solutions from different manufacturers, we were taken by the PIX 270i. It wasn’t designed as a player, per se; it’s more of a capture device. Regardless, it hit all of our criteria for a playback solution. The filmmakers and my operators were really pleased with it, and so were my bosses.”

Payne and his crew used the PIX 270i primarily as a backup and playback device. He immediately saw multiple uses for the recorders and ended up using them for all of the intermission and Q&A screen washes and clips for panel discussions as well. A lot of content was pushed through the PIX 270i; The Festival screened more than 250 films in a ten-day period, with about 800 public screenings. Sixty percent of the titles were backed up by using the PIX 270i.

“All of my technicians were impressed with the compatibility of the PIX 270i with their devices, sound processors, and video processors,” says Payne. “It was a no-brainer for us. All of our processors are Dolby® CP650s and 750s. Our video routing goes through a Barco switcher scaler, and we are using Barco D-cinema projectors. The PIX 270i just fit seamlessly into our audio and video chains.”

Street view of the Sundance Film Festival
© 2016 Sundance Institute | Photo by Johnathan Hickerson

Payne has been so impressed with his Video Devices equipment that he has plans to use them with other Sundance Institute-related programs throughout the year. “We are looking to use Video Devices equipment for documentary and feature film labs over the summer,” says Payne. “We are also looking to bring them to Sundance NEXT FEST.”

The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States. Held each January in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, Utah, as well as at the Sundance Resort, the Festival is a showcase for new work from world-wide independent filmmakers. Since 1985, hundreds of films launched at the Festival have gained critical recognition, received commercial distribution, and have reached worldwide audiences.