Thank you for the music

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Written by
Dean Offord

Product Marketing Manager at Panasonic Media & Entertainment Business Division.

Thank you for the music

There is nothing better than the thrill of a live music concert; whether it’s the buzz of rushing to get a great position right in front of the stage before a gig or the hairs on your arms raising in anticipation at the sound of the orchestra warming up. But in recent times, attending live music has been a challenge for all and audiences quickly turned to the possibilities of live streaming to get their cultural fix. Now as we return to some sort of normality, the opportunity to live stream those concerts - that we can’t get a ticket for or just can’t travel to - has become a more regular occurrence and a welcome alternative for many music fans.

So, when the Edinburgh International Festival wanted to reach a wider audience than ever before by streaming six classical concerts from the world-renowned annual arts event, it turned to Stagecast as specialists in live streaming and filming of both classical music and opera. Edinburgh International Festival is the world’s leading performing arts festival, featuring the finest performers from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre. 

By using Panasonic complete video capture solution at one of three specially constructed outdoor pavilions, located at the Edinburgh Academy Junior School, Stagecast was able to broadcast the concerts to viewers around the world, via the festival website, and selected concerts were also broadcast on the Classic FM digital platforms.

The spectacular temporary pavilions provided a Covid-safe alternative to the festival’s traditional concert halls. However, the venues also posed the new challenge of filming in a semi-outdoor environment, with daylight and all the variabilities of the Scottish summer climate.

Stagecast used a rig system to film the concerts built around a total of eight Panasonic AW-UE150 4K PTZ camera, one of which was mounted on a Panapod. They also used three Panasonic AK-UC4000 4K Studio System cameras – one on a crane and the other two at the back of the venue with super-telephoto lenses for front coverage of the enormous venue. Using the UC4000 cameras meant that the images could be accurately picture-matched with the UE150 cameras using scene files provided by Panasonic. Scene files are special files that alter the image output from a camera to ensure that each camera can be picture-matched despite having different sensor sizes. Panasonic has a host of scene files available for the UE150 for download from its website to enable picture-match to a host of its other cameras.

The backstage production team consisted of the director, script supervisor, vision engineer and two camera operators, working four cameras each. One of these operators also controlled the upward and downward movement of the Panapod, for shots behind the orchestra. The vision engineer’s role was to maintain the colour shading of each of the UC4000s on the Panasonic AK-HRP1000 remote operation panel.

Control of the PTZ cameras was handled over IP, with video signal routing over SDI. This provided full broadcast-quality video feeds back to the control room. The production team used a lot of automation to deliver complex, fully scripted shows with relatively few people, including their own monitor switching and tally solutions built with Bitfocus Companion and Elgato Streamdeck controllers. They also used custom software for recalling preset camera shots on the AW-UE150s from a playlist.

Orchestra filming

Filming orchestras has a range of specific requirements. The cameras must be silent for use in concert halls and they must also be compact and able to disappear on a stage – so as not to be a distraction to either the audience or the musicians.

Due to social distancing measures, the Stagecast team used the PTZ cameras to keep the physical presence on stage to a minimum, and to put cameras in positions where you wouldn’t be able to place a camera operator. This greatly helps in full-capacity venues, as organisers do not have to take out as many seats to accommodate camera positions.

Stagecast believes that without the Panasonic PTZ technology, they would not have been able to deliver the quality and range of concert coverage that they’ve been able to do this past year. The PTZ workflow allows them to be fast and efficient in a way that nothing else would have allowed, especially with the restrictions and challenges of social distancing, and it has transformed what they are able to do for the musicians and event organisers.

With these types of live streaming solutions, music fans look set to continue to be able to experience the events they love – whether in-person or via the wonders of PTZ cameras and live streaming.

Find out more about the PTZ camera range.

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