The technical specifications were very exacting. Houzz requested the A camera shoot 4K to allow their in-house editors to re-frame in post. We chose a Canon C300 MK II. Since only 1080p was required for the B camera, we used a Canon C100 recording Apple ProRes. The background was to be 100% white to match the look Houzz has chosen for all their interviews with “Houzz Pros” around the world.
The audio requirements were very specific. In addition to two mics on Lewis Black, Guilick requested six matching shotgun mics strategically placed around the theatre to capture audience reactions. All eight mics were to be recorded on separate channels in 24 bit/96kHz with dual 8-track recorders providing system redundancy and hardware backup. We chose Sennheiser 416’s for the audience mics and a pair of Sound Devices 8 channel recorders. Thomas Beach engineered the recording.
To insure the video footage would be suitable for any possible future uses (broadcast or theatrical release), we choose a Canon Digital Cinema camera equipped with a 150-600mm lens to give us a waist-up framing from the back of the theatre.
Lewis Black has been hugely popular in Wisconsin since the early ninety’s and both performances were sold out. The producers were happy. The audiences had a great time and so did our crew. As Lewis put it: “It’s an extraordinary state. They’ve embraced me and they’ve embraced Scott Walker”. He had a lot more to say about Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, but we’re not going to go there.
So what does all this have to do with Fresh Coast? Apparently even though Replay Technologies’ systems are used at major sporting events throughout the world, Major League Baseball was not totally convinced the resulting computer generated imagery was accurate enough for the official replays viewed by umpires and coaches. They wanted to test it for themselves and reached out to Fresh Coast for help.
Three high speed Phantom Flex 4K camera packages http://www.visionresearch.com/Products/High-Speed-Cameras/Phantom-Flex4K were rented from AbelCine in L.A. and Fresh Coast’s Chicago office provided three Phantom-certified camera assistants, three PA’s, and a key grip.
The testing took place over four days at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field. Actual and simulated game action was recorded in 4K slow motion with the Phantom Flex cameras. MLB Advanced media would then compare the Phantom footage with Replay Technologies’ “3D Pixel Recreations” to confirm its accuracy.
No idea what MLB learned from the experiment, but thanks to the efforts of our crew, Tim Moder, Mike Pavisan, Shaun Fleeger, Andy Cook, Nick Turner, Ricky Rudolph, Thomas Andrejek, and Eyliece Richardson, MLB Advanced Media left Chicago with a whole lot of terabytes of high speed, 4K footage to study and analyze.
Immediately prior to the Janesville shoot, MBM’s producer/director team Steven and Lisa Sulkin, along with DP Chip Nusbaum had been filming in Italy and the UK. Since they would arrive in Janesville only one day before filming began, Fresh Coast’s field producer handled all the on-location pre-pro coordination and location scouting.
With the shoot only a few days out, we learned that DP Nusbaum had some very specific gear requests. Bob Donnelley at North American Camera came through for us and was able to assemble an extensive camera package that included two Canon C-300’s, both Canon and Angenieux cinema zoom lenses, and a long list of camera support gear.
Jed Henry at Recon Productions in Madison was able to locate a steadicam rig with the requested wireless audio and video feeds and had it shipped in from Kentucky. Jed also worked the shoot as 2nd camera and steadicam operator.
Blue Moon Lights provided a very robust lighting & grip package that included a full complement of HMI, KinoFlo, and LED fixtures.
But even the best gear means little without the right people behind it, so a big shout out to our 10-person crew whose talents and resourcefulness made this shoot a success.
Audio Recordist Tom Beach, Gaffer Chris Marks, Grip Kenny Somerville, Grip/AC Tim Moder, 2nd Camera Jed Henry, PA/Utility Grip Jake Demoske, Makeup Artist Susin Greenberg, PA Ben Ramsdele, Data Manager Jeff Taylor, and Field Producer Ralph Pabst.
Our thanks to all the Fresh Coast crew and equipment suppliers whose talents and resourcefulness made this shoot a success.
The touring groups included the 2013 season winner “Home Free” http://www.homefreevocalband.com/ along with “VoicePlay”, http://thevoiceplay.com/ and The Filharmonic. http://www.thefilharmonic.com/
11:41 pm. Fresh Coast’s reply email:
“We just might be able to pull this off but I will need to speak with you no later than tomorrow morning to discuss the details. Call my cell. 414-405-5850”.
9:00 am - Phone call from the client:
The client initially wanted to shoot all Canon dslrs. Providing 6 dslr camera packages wouldn’t be a problem for us, but we suggested it would be a good idea to have a couple traditional HD video cameras in the mix. After clarifying the client’s expectations, we explained that getting a “real jib” into the Pabst Theater was probably not an option at this late date. We said we would try to convince the theater to let us bring in a smaller 10ft. Intel-A-Jib that would at least give them some dynamic camera moves. We also explained that finding two steadicam rigs and operators on this short notice was iffy.
10:00 am. We put the word out:
Phone calls, texts and emails went out to Fresh Coast’s Milwaukee crew resources with the hope we could somehow line up the needed people and gear on such short notice. The shoot was now only 48 hrs. out!
4:00 pm – We got lucky
OK. So we could only confirm one steadicam & operator (Carl Whitney). But all the crew positions were locked in by late afternoon. Jeff Thomas and Rich Clifford would be shooting Sony XDCAM from the house – hopefully one of them with the jib. Tom Caldardt, along with Carl and his steadicam would be on the stage with their 5D’s. Tim Moder was managing data backstage and shooting pick-up shots with his 5D. Fresh Coast producer Ralph Pabst also did double duty – roaming the house shooting performance and audience B-roll.
9:00 am – Phone call from the client:
Question: Could we get them 4 Crown PCC mics?
Studio Gear came through.
1:00 pm – Site Survey
We met with the theater’s technical director and house manager to finalize camera positions. Turns out both performances were sold out. No place for camera platforms and any hope for even a small jib went out the window. We broke the news to the client.
Thurs. 3/20/14 – Shoot Day
We arrived at the theater; delivered the Crown mics; and finalized camera positions and scheduling with the client. Crew call was noon.
1:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Rehearsals, lighting & sound checks began at 1:30 with the first show at 4:00 pm. Over the next 8 1/2 hours, we filmed two performances, shot some special footage for a music video, and did fan interviews before and after each performance.
11:00 pm – We were done – sort of.
As the Sing-Off Live folks began their strike and load-out, Tim Moder was still off-loading cards and organizing the 350 plus gigs data. Everything was backed up over-night and FedEx’d to the client the next day.
The whole project was a little crazy and last minute. But thanks to our great crew, we made it happen – and “making it happen” is what Fresh Coast is all about.
But as we packed up and patted ourselves on the back for a job well done, the Sing-Off Live performers and crew were getting on their tour busses and hitting the road to Minneapolis, Kansas City, Denver, Seattle, Salem, OR , San Francisco, Riverside and Los Angeles. 8 performances. 8 cities. 8 consecutive days. Ahh ....the world of show biz!!