In 2019 and into the first months of 2020, CMT’s digital team was on a roll, launching premium content with Country Music’s top talent. And then came the pandemic. Our team, like the rest of the company, became fully remote and saw in-person production come to a halt. With so much uncertainty in the world, and for our fans, we saw an opportunity, and a need, to continue to entertain. The challenge became how do we do this safely for our team, and for the talent we work with.
Our docu-series, On The Road, had been a hit with fans as it captured the highs and lows of top touring musicians, like Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town, as they traveled the country performing to thousands of fans each night.
Now as musicians and fans alike sat at home, we saw our pivot; Off The Road.
So, what happens when tour-life, and in-person production, stops completely? In the midst of a pandemic, we set out to give an in-depth look into the lives, minds and homes of Country Music stars as they navigated the real-life moments that defined this unprecedented time.
In April of 2020 we set-out to develop a 100% remote production protocol that would keep our team, and talent, safe while continuing to publish elevated content for our fans.
When you think about March 2020, you can remember the anxiety, confusion, and fear of the unknown. We were all feeling that, and so was country star Jon Pardi. 2020 was supposed to be his year, his break-out year, but he was quarantining at home like the rest of us. Jon Pardi didn’t just become our first star of Off The Road, but he also took on the job of camera operator, production assistant, lighting, co-director and producing partner for our team.
Producing remotely was a great unknown, but the team leaned into the following to get the job done.
Remote shoot-kits: we prepped a Pelican case with multiple iPhones, tripods, ring lights, external mics & a gopro.
Digital tools / software
Zoom: to produce talent, direct shots and capture interviews we utilized Zoom
Dropbox / SonyC: talent uploaded content captured daily to ensure we could edit in real-time
OpenReel: as the production evolved we leveraged OpenReel to capture high quality shots. The software allowed our team to remotely manipulate the settings, framing and quality of the iPhone the talent was using.
Through self-shot content, and zoom-style interviews we were able to produce a short-form documentary with an all-access pass into talent’s home life, family, relationships and feelings. The tools and remote production style allowed us to create a comfort level for talent that yielded greater access while maintaining the quality of content and storytelling that our physical productions were known for.
As talent captured content at home, and uploaded daily through Dropbox and SonyC, our team began to edit in real-time. This strategy was paramount as no one knew what was coming next for the world, and we wanted the content to feel fresh and relatable to what was happening in the lives of our fans.
On April 30th, after just 12 days of remote production, we premiered Off The Road with Jon Pardi across CMT’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels. Fans loved the authentic storytelling and production that highlighted the real, and raw, emotions that defined this unprecedented moment in time.
Rolling Stone shared an exclusive sneak peek of Off The Road, highlighting “Pardi and his assistant filmed the episode; there was no CMT camera crew on-site. And the singer isn’t sure when he’ll be in front of a professional camera or on a stage again.”]
The first episode of Off The Road recorded 350,000+ views.
The fans not only tuned-in, but shared the sentiment of the moment;
I adore you and the band, thanks for helping me through this pandemic.
I can feel the hurt/disappointment in your voice which is totally understandable! Thank you so much for sharing your time with us, I appreciate it so much
Thanks for letting us into your quarantine !
I miss people too. Nice to know we are in it together
The success of the first episode launched Off The Road into an on-going series for CMT, with 4 subsequent episodes and counting!
The reaction from fans to this episode also led CMT to create Pardi Time, a full 9 episode series with Jon Pardi (also a remote production!)
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