Organizers relied on advanced video production technology to record an “as-live” period music festival featuring a series of four Early/Renaissance music concerts. Automation and 32-bit audio technology crucially contained cost for a demanding project that depended on excellent audio quality.
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Music “festivals” like this one typically feature live performances followed by workshops led by performers. However, live performance was banned during the early 2020’s. So, our priciple required video production to digitally stream this event. Also, our client required quality commensurate with audio and visual standards one might find at York’s National Early Music Centre (NECM).
While NECM enjoys access to professional video production equipment and expertise, our client enjoyed no such advantage. We enjoy a strong reputation in field audio production. Therefore, we were charged with production. Further, because of restrictions imposed by limitations on movement and social distancing during a pandemic, our production team was limited to a team of one.
Normally, video production relies on operators for each camera, a sound engineer, one of whom ideally acts as a director if the budget does not extend to include a technical director.
Re-defining video production with 32-bit audio
32-bit floating point audio recording allows us to manage audio unattended during filming. This is not ideal and requires exacting microphone placement and rehearsal. However, the track below illustrates how distortion-free audio quality is acheived with highly specified field equipment even with instruments as demanding as bagpipes. You can use the control below to play “Wilson’s Wilde”, performed by The York Waits.
This accuracy is acheived with six studio microphones. A single audio interface is capable of recording a combination of up to 14 tracks to ensure accurate audio capture. This permutation allows for additional audio capture that eliminates the risk of artefacts or distortion which might require extra “takes”.
Streamlined video production makes filming viable
Final concert footage for the four performances lasted 30 – 45 minutes. Each concert was recorded with one producer who managed three cameras and up to six microphones. This level of efficiency is only recently possible, however the loss of at least one more full time professional makes a production like this viable.
Videos were recorded to match the time of day with eventual workshop broadcasts. Even in daylight, ecclesiastical locations are difficult sets to film. Consequently, video lighting is used to enhance daylight in a way that does not create artificial ambience. Regardless, RGB colour video lighting is used to subtly accentuate tones.
Lastly, difficult hygiene and isolation restrictions dictated careful staging to cope with social distancing.
Concerts in this Festival series feature The York Waits, Polyphonica (see their event promotion here, soloist Deborah Catterall, and Voci Choir. The series took nearly a year to record. Partly, this is because of difficulties with social distancing and lockdowns. Additionally, video editing takes up to 12 hours for each completed minute of footage. So, this project cost a further four months of editing for this project.
Today, freelance producers with expert knowledge in professional film, camera, and sound replace two or more site engineers at considerable savings to project costs. However, this means forensic attention to preparation. Moreover, this new discipline means that producers need equipment redundancy in place to offset breakdown or failure.
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For advice about how to make technology save costs for your productions, please contact us.