Recently, I had the privilege to work with some people I respect (Jim Bailey & "Richard" from Access Sacramento)on a new music show (presently unaired). I believe its called "Alive n Kicking Live", regardless its one of several projects by Sacramento's Favorite Music Promoter- Jerry Perry. Can't tell you how honored (and yes excited)to be a part of something he is attached to_fabulous.
I digress. I havent Directed live music performances, which basically means EDITED LIVE footage, for about a year now. My current forte is Talk SHows, which have a different beat. Im using the term BEAT to describe the length of footage you give to a shot before you cut to the next shot. A Talk Show beat can last as long 10-15 seconds, while a Music Performance beat can be as little as 3 seconds, but average 5 seconds. We're not talking Music Video's which can be very planned out. We are talking live, unrehearsed performances, were you have to be on your Visual and Energy Acuity Feet and I was a bit rusty for the first band.
Not being in the Access mobile "Truck", which is actually a mobile home, and its particular switching module, for over a year did not help prepare me for the "1min-to-showtime" call, but there I was thrust into the beautiful live wire aspect of Live Music SHow Recording~Lovely, gritty challenge!
Switchboards are basically the same but each has its on "finger math". THink of a blind people's brail. A Director T.D.ing has to maintain his/her eye contact on the monitor while switching-give or take a second or two glance down.
Immediately I put the phones on and check with camera and audio crew who had their own set of cams on. Not much time and I didn't come early to place camera's positions or talk to the CAMERA STAFF before a show, which is ESSENTIAL on many levels(technical-wich shots you want to do for the show, discussion on zoom outs or zoom out to a 2-shot), but especially with a music(or sports) show were you want to connect with the people who man(sorry ladies-just a term) the camera. Why? camerawork for these type of shows is demanding and sometimes treacherous for the hand-held camera people who are asked to hold shots for a longer duration than their arm may give. People are important. Give them the time to find out who they are and they will naturally give you the best they have.
A Director is Nothing Without his Camera Personal- Kudos to Camera Personal!
SHOW IS ON -Acclimating, pay attention, who is talking or singing on stage? do they have hair in their face? is the lighting good on them? who has an instrumental solo?
what is your next shot "on deck" or "ready camera"? As a T.V. Director you have to have at least 2 shots loaded (like a chess game). I pride myself on always having 3 shots ready with 1 being tentative and at the same time always keeping an alert eye to any new live footage on the monitors.
I should also note that I was TDing (technical directing or switching-board-operating). THis is common for lower budget and small staffed productions. lots of hats to wear(loving this). A real Director would have a TD operator operating the switching board, whilst out you, the director, never take your eyes off the various monitors in front of you.
Eventually the tumultuous storm of incoming data slims down to a calm watchful eye accompanied with seasoned hands canvasing the live monitors and noting your camera personals' artful abilities.
With a Talk Show, you can plan the end, meaning you know the list of camera set-up's before the end of the show. You know the final shot, you know the shot before final shot, but with Music Show...not so much. Given the talent you have on stage,(their tone often establishes the tone of the editing), you really don't know whats going to happen on the stage, let alone plan a camera set-up 3 steps in advance. Its possible, and does happen, but a different approach for sure. THe show is "ALIVE" throughout the time parameter of the taping.
It should be noted that Cameramen (camera personal), in a way, are "let loose" to set up their own shots whilst the live performance is on. I do chime in and establish a : establishing camera, usually camera 2, to be your mainstay shot. This camera is your "safe" camera. It is the safe haven camera I can rely on to "ground the show". I will "unburden" this camera person several times throughout the show by establishing a shot for another live camera then saying "camera 2 your free" all along reminding your new establishing camera that they are establishing for a while.
this professional courtesy also gives the show a change of pace viewing- you won't have to view 1 shot constantly as the establishing shot. Look for a new blog on AUDIENCE ATTENTION SPAN coming soon.
In closing, we as a crew "fell into place" and I as a DIrector wrangled the Switcher to eventually get some really nice Music Instrument Playing Close Up's , and Cross Fades, which you let "hang" for a longer BEAT to really get the Don Kirschner look...he he ~ VIva Don K ~
Alls I can say is that I cant wait to be a part of the next shoot, work with these great people and their wonderful staff, and yes- Master the Art of Live Musical Performance Editing
Cya next time