Sunday, October 4, 2015

October 4, 2015 - Lucia di Lammermoor

This afternoon the  HD crew and I watched and recorded our first look at the Final Dress Rehearsal of Lucia Di Lammermoor at SF Opera.   We captured this afternoon's rehearsal so the marketing group at the opera can promote it on the SF Opera's website and it gives us a rough rehearsal for future camera blocking.

The cast was terrific and strong.  We will capture this opera for potential  distribution.  This  Lucia has a futuristic tone and look.  We will be capturing it on Oct 11, 16 and 21.  If you are in SF come by and enjoy Lucia Di Lammermoor.

to be continued...

Monday, July 6, 2015

July 3, Simulcast - How it happened

This was SF Opera's 9th at AT&T Ballpark.  It was a challenge.  Figaro had a young cast who not always hit their marks.  We had to improvise some of the time but that is part of live television.  Overall my crew did pretty well.  We had a couple of bumps in the road but  it flew by, even though we started at 7:30 and ended a little after 11 pm.  At the first intermission, the head of Team HD, Jessica Koplos ( Director of Electronic Media at SFOpera ) sent over the traditional hot dogs and garlic fries.  We felt like we were at the Ballpark.

At the second intermission, all cameras changed over to the 16x9 format for our Open Curtain demonstration.  This is were staff members from the opera explains what happens during the intermission.  The audience at the opera house and at the Ballpark got to see first hand of what the carpenters, grips, electricians, props and stage management  do to get ready for the next act.

After this 10 minute demonstration we switched back to 29 x 9.   Act 3 and 4 went into overdrive and before we knew it we were into bows.  The bows had the cast and orchestra show up in Giants hats, scarfs, foam fingers and T-shirts.  Over 30,000 showed up. It was a blast! See everyone next time!

Day 18 - Simulcast Friday - July 3

Okay, I skipped a few days in the blog. On July 1, we captured  Les Troyens for the last time.

On July 2,  I changed over 250 shots. Why?  The format of 29 x 9 is so wide that it covers lots of territory.  So instead of going to cutaways of singers, we might see all of them on a single shot.

Today - July 3 -  Jess (AD), Gary (LD) and I went to AT&T this afternoon to check on how the lighting looked in the 3 acts. We decided that the background light in Act 1 should come up.   Here are some photos from Today's visit.

Me and Gary (LD) checking out the AT&T Projection

Visiting SFO  sound engineer, Alava at the mixing board near home plate.

Gary decided that for tonight's opera he would add some background light for Act One.
I think it looked really good and made the singers pop even more.

I just realized that I have not explained where my camera positions are in the opera house:

Camera 11 - Static camera for the Maestro.
Camera 10 - overlooks the stage from above.  Almost a straight down overhead look.
Camera 9 - Grand wide shot from the first balcony rail.   This camera can also pickup the percussion group in the pit and the woodwinds.
Camera 8 - also on the rail but 20 feet left of camera 9 which gives me an off center wide look and can zoom into the chorus and give me dramatic zoom outs as well as zoom ins.  This angle can also give me two shots-head to toe and group shots when needed.  This off center look is one of my favorite angles.
Camera 7 - Located on the orchestra level (main floor)  back of house - long lens 42 x 7.  This will give me extreme closeups as well as medium wide shots.
Camera 5 and 6 are in the pit and pickup singles and group shots of the musicians in the orchestra as well as pan and zoom in to the action on stage.  Some of the most dynamic and impressive shots come front these camera positions.  The extreme close ups are stunning as well as the wide shots. These two cameras can make shorter performers look taller.
Camera 1 and 4 are in the walls of the opera house far left and far right.  This lets me great over the shoulder shots and compresses three to four performers. The lenses on these cameras are 26 x 9.
Camera 2 and 3 are located under the first balcony, above the heads of the orchestra level seating.  These two cameras get me closeups, medium closeups, medium masters, stage wide and head to toe framing.  Cameras 2,3 and 7 are constantly working.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 15 Sf Opera's Marriage of Figaro Simulcast at AT&T Park in SF, July 3

Day 15 - June 30 Captured the last Two Women performance at SF Opera.

Besides directing the capture, one of the camera operators and I go up to the Upper Balcony during an intermission  and ask the audience their opinion of Opera Vision.  We have been doing this for the last 8 years and have been  always surprised.  Here was our experience.

"Last Night after Act one of Two Women, camera operator Doug Hunt and I went up to the Upper Balcony to visit "our opera vision audience."  Out of 12 interviewees, only one did not care about the screens. By the way, he was with a friend who thought the screens greatly enhanced his opera experience.

What was really "cool" for us was that two of the people we interviewed told us that they initially hated opera vision when it first began 8 years ago, but now, they loved it and plan their season around it.  The one woman who I interviewed who thought it was a joke when opera vision first came out 8 years ago told me that she wrote a very nasty email to the opera saying how she hated it and thought it was some sports nuts idea!  She was happy to tell me that now she believes in it and really enjoys the closeups and hopes that by telling me how much she enjoys it that it will absolve her from the negative email 8 years ago. 

The capture had a couple hitches.  Camera 3, our wide master went down during the show, so we had to use a wider master from the upper Balcony.  This was a little too wide.  I went to  a quick sequence where there was no one there.   I was too quick fro my own good.

If this is ever distributed or streamed it will have to be edited.   Overall it was a pretty good live cut.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 14, Sf Opera's Marriage of Figaro Simulcast at AT&T Park in SF, July 3

June 29, 2015

Today was adding a few more shots and meetings.  Our production team met over the July 3 rundown and it was put together by Francis Crossman our ace editor at the opera.

The director's team did as much as possible to finish off Figaro.  Tonight will be our shakedown and by that I mean our backup recording  for the AT&T simulcast.  What I mean by backup is that if something goes technically wrong at the Opera House on July 3.  What we tape tonight will be shown at the Ball Park.  We haven't had to do that in all of the years I have directed but like they say, "There is always a first time." However,  I remain positive.

I joined my camera crew for a brief review of Act 3.  Glad I did as I changed some framing and descriptions on the shot sheets.  At the opera we have what we call shot driver and is pushed by Uwe, our engineer in charge who is also watching all recordings.  Here is a paper version of the shot driver:
Shot sheet

Working the Directing team until show time, gotta go!

Day 12,13, Sf Opera's Marriage of Figaro Simulcast at AT&T Park in SF, July 3

Day 12 - June 27, 2015

Spent some time adding 250 shots to Figaro and asked the Associate Stage Director, Morgan Robinson if she could have the gardener, Antonio move between Figaro and the Count during two musical systems (about 10 measures).  Right now Antonio is "buried" behind the supers and chorus so the cameras cannot see him.  We will see how it works on Monday our rehearsal day for the simulcast.

Day 13 - June 28,2015,

Sunday was our 2nd capture of Two Women and also an opera vision afternoon.  We had a good show and we will make a few changes for our final capture later this week.

Once in awhile I take BART into San Francisco.  This blog is about  my trip on my way back home and some unexpected reviews of my crews work.

Today was our second capture of Two Women  and as usual was our best capture to date.  The afternoon crowd loved the show, as all of the audiences have during our captures.  I suspect the other performances in between our captures are also popular with the audiences too.  I confirmed that as I was waiting in line at the Civc Center BART station waiting to go through the turnstiles as the Pride parade masses were jamming their way onto BART.  Next to me were two opera goers who I identified with a program in their arms.  I asked them what they thought of the opera and they gushed about it.  They said that they had been reading the critics and they thought that the critics were wrong and enjoyed every moment of the opera.  I wanted to ask them more questions but they, like me got lost in the sea of pink and rainbow people racing their way to the BART trains.  My opera adventure did not stop there.  

As I boarded my train, I encountered a young couple (early 40s) with programs and I asked them what they thought.  They both enjoyed it.  In fact, they went on to tell me that they were in the upper balcony and were so happy because they not only had great sound but they could see the close ups on the screens and said they loved all the angles and felt like the were watching a film.  They could watch the stage or go back to their screens.  Now without me giving away of who I was they kept going.  They told me that they design their 4 to 5 opera visits a year based on opera vision.  That's the way they saw Show Boat, Moby Dick (they DVR'd the PBS broadcast too) and many others.  They buy  4 tickets per opera and they also bring their 16 and 14 year old. They also mentioned the critics were negative but they couldn't understand it because "hey it's an Italian opera and it sounded like one!"   My stop was coming up and we said our goodbyes with them saying that I should tell someone at the opera how they felt.  I told them I will!

See you tomorrow,
Frank Z.