Video production services
Opera Zuid, a touring opera company, based in the Netherlands, recently commissioned me to deliver their latest online video production. This case study briefly outlines the range of video production services I delivered for Opera Zuid for their 2018 production of Leonard Bernstein’s ‘A Quiet Place’ in his centennial year. Earlier this year, they had also commissioned me to supply their online video production for their previous tour of ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ (A Masked Ball).
The premiere of ‘A Quiet Place” was to take place at Theater aan her Vrijthof in Maastricht, Holland. Opera Zuid is the only company in Europe to stage this rarely performed opera. The Director and Stage Designer are the prize-winning Orpha Phelan and Madeleine Boyd. The musical director of the Philharmonie Zuidnederland is the highly gifted young Belgian conductor Karel Deseure. I was required to film their two final dress rehearsals with the accompaniment of the full orchestra.
Filming on location
To travel to Maastricht, I used the Eurostar and connecting trains which helped me travel easily with my heavy filming kit. When filming on location in the UK or in Europe, I always pack my kit the day before to ensure I have everything I may need for any expected eventuality. For this trip to Holland to film this opera, I packed three cameras and a selection of lenses. To record the sound, I took a range of microphones and a Tascam 24-bit audio recorder. To light the interviews, I took two Dedo lights (with a high CRI – Colour Rendering Index). For camera support, I packed a monopod and two tripods. To manage my media, I packed a MAC laptop and two 1TB external hard drives, 650Gb of camera cards and enough power sources, adaptors and chargers to manage the two days’ online video production.
Watching the production
On my arrival in Maastricht, I was able to watch the piano dress rehearsal which preceded the first full dress rehearsal. Watching the entire production throughout was very helpful as it gave me an understanding as to where to place my cameras for recording. It also allowed me to see what sections of the live-action would be important to follow. Each dress rehearsal performance lasted over 150 minutes, and so I needed to consider my workflow so that I could manage to record both performances with two UHD cameras.
UHD Filming with multiple cameras
For my filming session of the first full dress rehearsal performance, I used one camera on a locked-off tripod with wide framing positioned close and front to stage. I filmed with the second camera stage right using a Manfrotto monopod. Both cameras were set to film .mov 422 10 bit UHD and guide audio. I recorded master sound using my Sennheiser direction mic and Tascam 24-bit audio recorder. The following night, for the second full dress rehearsal, I filmed with one camera locked off on a wide shot further back from the front of the stage and the second camera centre stage with a closer shot so that I could follow the action. In addition to filming both the full dress rehearsals, during the two days I was working at the theatre, I filmed seven individual interviews with some of the very talented members of the cast and creative team.
After the first day’s filming, I copied the data from my camera cards onto an external hard drive via my laptop using the USB 3 ports. I then cloned that 1TB G-RAID hard drive onto another 1TB hard drive to protect the media. Once this process was complete, I was then able to delete the data on the camera SanDisk camera data cards. This freed up space so that I could re-use the data cards for the second day of filming. The process was repeated after the second day’s filming which enabled me to return to London with two copies of all the filmed media.
Video editing and post-production
On my return to London, my most immediate task was to copy the 850Gb of 10-bit UHD camera media onto my Promise Pegasus RAID 5 drives to ensure the complete security of the project. Once all the media was copied over, I then transcoded it all into Avid friendly DNx media for editing. When all this back-up was completed, the two camera angles were then synced up with the high-quality sound for both performances. My well-proven online video production workflow system ensures all my projects are retained at the highest level of quality required and are fully secured against any potential equipment failure.
Social media marketing
For this ‘A Quiet Place’ project, the most immediate editing requirement for my online video production was to produce a short 60-second ‘teaser’. This I edited and delivered within 24 hours, in time for them to promote and market their first night’s premiere and their following tour throughout the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Following this ‘teaser’, I also produced a 2-minute trailer and a series of short films based on the individual interviews and performances. These have been uploaded to my Vimeo channel, my clients YouTube channel and embedded on Opera Zuid’s website. In addition, I edited a series of under 60-second short films for their Instagram and Twitter feeds.
Online video production
Working as a freelance videographer, I found it very satisfying to have successfully managed this very complicated and high-quality online video production on my own. Some other examples of my delivery of online video productions include films featuring various artists including Georg Meyer-Wiel (artist and costume designer), Samuel Thomas (artist) and Billie Ray Martin (singer). My commissions from the production company Digital Drama enabled me to deliver their films Creative People & Places (about the Arts Council funded project) and A Temple of Liberty (for the Royal Alberts Halls 2018 commemorations). I also enjoy being involved in supporting some of my local charities. For example, Joy of Sound for whom I created a website homepage video. If you would like any creative help or advice with your own video production or post-production, I would be delighted to be of assistance.