Bang out of Order : Making a live concert film.
Updated: Dec 28, 2020
In March 2020, just before the Pandemic shut down live music as we used to know it, I was Director of Photography on a multi-camera shoot for the band Tragedy. Hailing from New York, Tragedy have been producing albums of the catchiest disco and pop covers in a variety of metal styles (yes there are different styles) for over a decade. Originally only covering the Bee Gees, the band have moved onto the finest dance floor fillers from the 70s and 80s.
As a live act they excel, with stellar musicianship, cheeky humour and lots of glitter. So we thought it was time to film a complete show properly. Little did we know that there was world-changing event waiting in the wings (not Lance).
The venue for the shoot, a band and fan favourite, was the Robin, located at Bilston in the West Midlands, AKA ‘The Black Country'. For a medium-sized hall, it has a high stage, great lighting, experienced local crew, but most importantly in-house catering of the highest standard (Balti, yes please). All in all, ideal for our shoot.
Using 8 HD Sony camcorders and 3 Gopros, the gig was filmed with 6 operators and some locked off cameras. There were 2 operated cameras on tall tripods behind the audience, 3 handheld cameras at the front of the stage and a roving camera (Andy) on stage getting audience shots and over the shoulders of the band. A 4K camera by the sound desk captured a master shot of the stage, to ensure coverage, should anything be missed by the operators. Finally we had 3 Gopro cameras on the drums. All the cameras were matched with a picture profile I had adapted that would give good colour, shadow detail and improved highlight rolloff as I knew we were going to be shooting into the lamps much of the time. The Gopros were set to neutral and I graded that footage to match when I transcoded it to go into the project to save time later. Here are most of the camera crew. Not included is Simon Hill who was in the loo.
L-R. David Finan, me, Hannah Lamond, Richard Forster and Andy Moore.
This was handled by Beautyrock productions in NewYork once I had set up the project in Adobe Premiere Pro. The picture edit was completed using the Multicam workflow included in the program. Prior to this all the footage was transcoded to ProRes proxy files in Media Encoder to enable the Mac computers to cope with the high data rate of the 11 cameras. This process worked well, giving smooth enough playback during the edit. For the final export, Premiere draws from the original footage so the quality is maintained.
All the colour grading was completed in Premiere as well.
The finished audio was produced from a 24-track recording from the sound desk and was mixed in Protools. The mixing process was similar to mixing a studio album. Adding EQ, compression, and effects on each individual track. Muting tracks when not in use, and using automate effects, especially on vocals. For more info on Beautyrock's work, here is a link.
The finished film, titled 'Tragedy, Bang Out of Order : Live from the Black Country' affectionately references the area of the West Midlands where the venue is located.
The Black Country was named after the choking black soot produced at the smelting works and heavy industry which was prevalent in the area up to the 1960s.
Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Robert Plant and Slade are all from the Midlands, which was dubbed 'The Home of Metal' in an exhibition in Birmingham in 2019 celebrating 50 years of Black Sabbath. Rob Halford of Priest still has a house in Walsall.
Here is the trailer for the concert film
And a storming version of 'Africa' by the little known band Toto.
More info on the Exhibition below
Having grown up in Walsall, I was delighted that Tragedy, from New York City, used this cultural reference for their concert film, which one day will stand toe to toe with the 'Song remains the same' and 'Stop making Sense' (maybe...).
More info on Tragedy, and the venue below.
I very much hope that soon, the Robin and any other surviving music venues can turn their lights and amps back on to 11 and invite us in for the excitement that is live music.