How to Shoot a Musical Performance Cinematically: Duran Duran Live with Den Lennie
Trying to capture a musical performance in its entirety without missing anything requires serious planning and attention to detail. Den Lennie over at F-Stop Academy had the monumental task of being the Director of Photography for a live performance of Duran Duran, and rather than film the performance over a number of nights like many tour DVDs, they had just one performance and two hours to get all the material they needed. Check out some of the clips and a description of how Den accomplished this feat along with the help of director Gavin Elder and Producer James Tonkin.
First, here is a little bit from Den about the process:
Ours proposal was unconventional in so far as we’d not have a gallery and we’d not be on director talkback. The Director Gavin Elder and producer James Tonkin would be operating cameras on stage and so we had to plan carefully each camera position and what shots each operator would be assigned.
We chose to shoot the gig primarily on Sony PMW-F3, and Sony NEX-FS100 camera’s with on stage minicams Sony HXR-MC1P. The F3′s were recorded internally at 35mb/s and externally on to Convergent Design Nano Flash ast 80mb/s Quick Time. This meant we’d have the necessary higher bit rate for HD Broadcast spec and a secondary back up using the camera’s internal codec. Special mention here to my colleague Alister Chapman who we brought in to manage the camera profile and the technical camera configuration.
Den decided to shoot this as cinematically as possible, and that meant real cinema lenses for a lot of the cameras:
From a visual perspective we wanted a Cinematic look and so chose to use Cinema Zoom lenses on the main cameras – we used Angenieux Optimo 24-290mm and Arri Alura 45-250mm and 18-80mm. However on the two canera positions on the sound desk we had a throw of 120′ to the stage and in order to get a hero close up we opted for an image stabilised Canon HJ40 with an adaptor from mtf Services.com. This did look different from the cine glass but the guys did a great job grading it to match the other angles in post.
Here is one of the camera plots showing the positions of some of the cameras:
It certainly took a lot of work to put this entire operation together (7 prep days and 60 post days), but by breaking it down methodically they able to successfully get everything they needed in just one night. I’ve done a few live music shoots in the past, but absolutely nothing even remotely on this scale, and I can only imagine how intense the post production was on the shoot. For more information about the process, head on over to F-Stop Academy. If you’re going to be in London in the middle of August, Den is putting on a program called “How to Shoot a Music Video.” Here’s a little bit from Den about that event:
Does anyone have any interesting experiences about shooting or editing live musical performances?
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