Quad-View Monitor Proves Reliable Workhorse for Chicago Video Production Team
Rob Kaczmark, owner of Spirit Juice Studios, keeps a busy schedule producing award-winning video content that focuses on the Catholic faith. His company has evolved a lot over the years, but one of the mainstays that’s helped with production is a Marshall QVW-1708-3G Quad-View Monitor. Marshall got a chance to talk to Rob to learn more about the company and the equipment they use to get the job done.
[interview edited for length and clarity]
Marshall Electronics: How long have you had your production company Spirit Juice Studios, and what kinds of content do you make?
Rob Kaczmark: Spirit Juice Studios is 11 years old, and we primarily make educational content videos for the web. We also do some TV commercials, and typically we’re always working on a documentary film of some sort that is usually feature length.
Our clientele is somewhat unique in that it’s all faith-based and primarily Catholic. Our clients are typically different Catholic dioceses, archdiocese, and a lot of Catholic non-profits like the Knights of Columbus.
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Marshall Electronics: About how many video content pieces are you working on a month?
Rob Kaczmark: Each month we have about 30 active projects going on, delivering about 20 videos per month, with those being a mixture of longer and shorter projects. We use Monday.com to manage all of our projects.
Marshall Electronics: How big is the team you work with?
Rob Kaczmark: We have 10 employees right now, with six that are full time, and four working part-time. We also use quite a few freelancers and have about 10-15 regular subs that we hire depending on the job.
Marshall Electronics: What kinds of equipment do you use for most shoots?
Rob Kaczmark: We are shooting on everything from an ARRI Amira and three RED cameras, down to Canon C300 Mark IIs, Canon C200s, and Canon C300s. When possible, we’re shooting everything on the ARRI or RED cameras, and when we need to, we’ll mix in some Canon C300s. Typically the C300s are used for interviews.
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Marshall Electronics: How did you first find out about Marshall monitors?
Rob Kaczmark: When the Canon 5D first came out, there was an issue where most camera assist monitors out at the time would scale the image so that it looked “squeezed” in the monitor. Marshall was one of the first manufacturers that was able to “de-squeeze” the image so it looked fine in the monitor. We got two small camera assist monitors from Marshall because of this and then got another for our Zephyr Steadicam rig. We still use these monitors today. They were not the most expensive, but they have been solid on performance.
Marshall Electronics: How did you first find out about the QVW-1708-3G?
Rob Kaczmark: We first found out about the QVW-1708-3G back at NAB 2012. I was actually there to film coverage of the event and when we went by the Marshall booth, they showed me around and pointed out the quad-viewer. Later, we had a project where I needed to run some quad-view, so I went ahead and purchased it and it’s been a workhorse for us ever since. We still use it all the time.
Marshall Electronics: How do you typically use the QVW-1708-3G?
Rob Kaczmark: Most of the time we’re running multi-cam shoots, and we use the QVW-1708-3G for interviews where we have four cameras on set. The quad is perfect for this. We also use it for a lot of multi-cam music videos and live productions.
Marshall Electronics: Is it convenient to have on-location during shoots?
Rob Kaczmark: It’s convenient as long as we have power. If we don’t have power I generally don’t bring it. In the studio, it’s always with us.
Marshall Electronics: What do you like most about the QVW-1708-3G
Rob Kaczmark: I love that it’s a quad and the fact that you can adjust the layout to run a single shot in there too. I like that the images are super sharp and that it’s a relatively small monitor that can be shipped rather easily. We have a custom 1620 Pelican case that it easily fits in to, so we can take it anywhere. Overall, I’m just really pleased with it.
Also, the fact that it can loop out and does SDI is great. I personally don’t like working with HDMI. I also use the audio bars a lot. Some of our cameras have a scratch audio inside and some of them don’t, so having the bars showing up so I know if the scratch is being read is super helpful.
Marshall Electronics: What would you say is the biggest technical challenge to your productions?
Rob Kaczmark: I would say that our biggest technical challenge since we do a lot of interviews, is making them all look different. We’ve been shooting interviews for a while now, so we know how to make them look good. But making them look good and different so that they’re not just cookie cutter and identical can be a challenge.
Another challenge is that our clients don’t often have the largest budgets. But it works to our mission, which is to always give them more than what they’re paying for. Not only do I think it’s a good business model, but typically for me, the messages that are in the videos are in line with what I believe in, so I like to see [the videos] be in a form that does justice to the message.
Marshall Electronics: What are your plans for the future of Spirit Juice Studios?
Rob Kaczmark: I’d like to expand into more original content, and I’d also like to continue to grow with our client base to become a leader in the Catholic market. As far as gear, we started out on Canon 5Ds and then moved to C300s, and now we’ve started implementing the ARRI and RED cameras. I’d like to get to a place where we’re shooting exclusively on the ARRIs and REDs, and just keep increasing the quality and pushing the bar for what we can do.