Duet Media Produces Wagner Showstopper

At the end of August 2019, Duet Media was commissioned film Götterdämmerung, the final part of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

The task of filming this four and a half hour operatic marathon required planning and preparation and detailed study of the 1000+ page score. The technical delivery of the project made use of equipment currently leased (by Duet Media) to the RSNO for their Glasgow HQ and the audio was mixed by the RSNO's in-house Tonmeister.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” - Abraham Lincoln

With approximately six hours of performance (including the intervals) there were, fortunately, more than four hours to prepare! Materials were assembled; recording, score, orchestral seating plan, camera angles and coffee. In order to keep the impact of the multi-camera production to a minimum, PTZ or 'hot-head' cameras were used allowing the quick and easy recall of preset camera positions. Camera cues were marked into the score and a spreadsheet with the corresponding camera presets created.

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A long week of preparation later and the long drive to Scotland completed all that remained to do was to install the kit into the Usher Hall in the small windows of down time in the crammed festival programme.

For this performance the Duet Media team had a full day of rehearsals and a dress rehearsal to test the equipment and run the 1000+ camera cues. Technically the NDI (Video over IP) workflow worked flawlessly (backed up to ISO recorders) and the camera cues needed some simplification in this very busy score. All was set for the day of performance.

Dressing Room 3 - Temporary Control ROom

Produced 'as live' the control room team comprised of a score reader, vision mixer, camera engineer and sound engineer. The crowded dressing/temporary control room fell silent as the conductor, Sir Andrew Davis, walked onto the stage. CUE 1 was ready and the next two hours of ACT 1 flew by in a flash of concentration from all of the team. After the 90 minute first interval, the shorter ACTS 2 and 3 passed and before long it was just the de-rig to go!

The sheer size of this project meant that it had to be given the correct amount of preparation time, but this should be an example to productions of all sizes.

In today's world of easy live streaming and broadcast, it is so easy to run in and out of a project without the appropriate pre-production time. Quote for a 'film' project with the need for post-production and clients easily understand this. Trying to negotiate, and therefore budget for, sufficient pre-production time is always more challenging and will often require chasing a client to provide the necessary materials with enough time. Following the example of the RSNO, EIF and other large arts organisations, even the smallest event should be given the appropriate amount of pre-production/planning time - and this is usually twice as much as you first think! I leave you with one final quotation:

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin