Den's production Update - Dec 2011

Duran Duran Live.....well maybe.

So back in May, I was asked to DP a multi camera gig shooting on Super 35mm with Director James Tonkin from Hangman Studios.  We planned to use Sony F3's, FS100's, a Sony SRW 9000 and some minicams on stage.  But sadly due to vocal problems with the lead singer at the time, the gig was postponed.  This can happen on productions although fortunately, not all that often.  We had gone to Berlin in Germany, rigged the venue and were setting and testing camera positions the night before the show. The sound system was in place, the lighting rig was in place, 2 of the 4 band members were in the venue, then we got the call we were dreading.  But you can't have a live show without the lead singer.

Fortunately Simon Le Bon has fully recovered and now the band are continuing the tour albeit a few months later than planned.

I was filming behind the scenes at the time as I wanted to show you the process we go through on these big shows but was holding off showing you this because I was always hopeful that we might get the chance to shoot one of the new shows and therefore the complete project...

Well, we are in negotiations with the band's management about possibly filming a Gig next week.  And this is why I wanted to write to you about this.  You see you might think that these things have months of planning. The truth is that in many cases we get very short notice.  For example James called me 2 days ago to say he'd had a call from a Music Management Company based in LA who represented a Danish Artist.  They wanted to shoot a music video in Copenhagen, Denmark in 4 days time.  So James called me, then wrote a treatment for the band.  We started planning  a 1 day shoot, not knowing if we'd win the gig. So the plan was to shoot on the Sony FS100 but use a Pl to E-mount adaptor.  I wanted to shoot with Arri Superspeeds because much of the planned filming would take place at night. [private_ICFM]


You see, despite not knowing if we'd even win the gig, we still went into full on pre-production planning mode, pencilling kit with hire companies, planning logistics, looking at flight times etc etc.

Anyway, it's now Wednesday evening and we haven't heard back from the Bands management so we're figuring the gig went to someone else.  This is not uncommon.  A manager will put out to tender to 5/6 directors to pitch an idea then he/she will present the ideas to the band and the band will choose the concept they like the most.

But the process remains the same.  You have to plan meticulously and things don't always go to plan.

So back to Duran Duran. One phone call later and we're now prepping a potential 13 camera shoot for Dec 16th in Manchester at the MEN Arena.

This is a much larger venue than we'd first spec'd, so we need to take our original camera plan (see below) and do some reworking of positions and lens choices.


The biggest single challenge in a show like this is the sheer distance you need to be from the stage due to where you can safely put cameras in an auditorium filled with 20,000 paying guests.  So focal length of lenses becomes critical but also the ability to keep the shot steady.

We previously did a number of lens tests in a park trying to figure out frame sizes and distances.... it may surprise you to learn that we try to figure things out in this way but our problem was we could not physically see the venue until the day before the show and we had to hire lenses and tripods in advance.  So you have to call on 17 years of experience and some advance guesswork.

Here is a .pdf article I wrote about the experience:

DD Berlin Article

In this video diary we made while preparing the last shoot I show you how we go about preparing for a shoot like this.


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Naturally, if we get the go ahead next Friday 16th, I'll be bringing you an exclusive behind the scenes.  At the time of writing it's between us and a 3D production company.... I will let you know.