- The video production of the recent Kendrick Lamar concert in Paris employed multiple digital cinema cameras in a livestreamed outdoor broadcast.
- The production relied heavily on Sony equipment, including the company’s digital cine flagship Venice camera in both Super 35 and full-frame 6K configurations.
- Other equipment included an ARRI Trinity rig spanning the area from the stage to the floor, a spidercam, and a robotic rail-cam system “that acted like a sniper,” able to boom up and boom down precisely while maintaining a beautiful frame above stage height.
READ MORE: Mark Ritchie Brings Cinematic Experience to Amazon Prime Live Concert Film with Kendrick Lamar’s ‘The Big Steppers: Live From Paris’ (Sony Cine)
Camera technology that started out in the upper echelons of cinema have now become so accessible that the use of digital cine cameras and lenses is being use to photograph sports and music concerts too.
Normally, such cameras are used sparingly for cinematic depth of field cut-aways in live sports or in glossily post produced video concert footage.
The video production of the recent Kendrick Larmar tour took this to another level by using multiple digital cinema cameras in a livestreamed outside broadcast.
“Concerts shouldn’t look like a sporting event game,” said the production’s director, Mark Ritchie. “They shouldn’t be filmed like one either.”
Perhaps that isn’t surprising given an artist of Lamar’s caliber. The Big Steppers: Live From Paris, part of Lamar’s “Big Steppers Tour,” was streamed live exclusively on Amazon Music and Prime Video from the Accor Arena in Paris this past October.
“We didn’t want to just use a prefab camera plot,” Ritchie explains. “We really wanted to understand what would be dynamic, what would be a great storytelling device, what lenses would feel more immersive versus objective.”
The amount of technology used for the shoot was astonishing, as detailed in the Sony case study. An ARRI Trinity went from the stage to the floor for specifically choreographed moments. Two additional Steadicams, one on stage for fluid live moments, and one in the audience, captured moments with fans. They had a robotic rail-cam system “that acted like a sniper,” able to boom up and boom down precisely while maintaining a beautiful frame above stage height.
They also had a spidercam for very specific cinematic moments, a 25-foot tower camera and Technocrane gliding slowly over the audience that captured waves of hands as it made its way to the stage.
Principal photography was from 16 Sony Venice cameras and Sony’s new cinematic pan-tilt-zoom camera, the FR7.
Ritchie used the Venice at 6K in full-frame, along with lenses like Signature Zooms or Fujinon Premistas and primes.
“The beauty of full-frame is you can see a nice wide shot of a stadium or an arena, but stay focused on the person right there in front of you,” he said. “To be able to control someone’s attention with more shallow depth of field in certain moments is critical to the narrative. I can show you 80,000 people and a massive stage, and by using a shallow depth of field I can ensure the audience stays laser focused on the artist while still offering an epic sense of depth and grandeur.”
He also used Venice in Super 35 mode, allowing him to employ longer cinema zooms and converted broadcast lenses that can offer both tight and wide coverage from all angles.
“One of the biggest challenges in live spaces is distance to the subject,” says Ritchie. “Feature films happen between eight and 20 feet. However, it’s often challenging to maintain the inner ring of close coverage in a live space, especially when you have massive stages and catwalks in excess 120 feet, while trying not to impede on the audience experience. Having that second ring of coverage is crucial to maintain coverage throughout the film.”
Live Grade LUTs were applied, adjusting exposure and black levels and accounting for any variances between lenses and the environment, which as you can imagine means battling with constantly changing extreme contrasts, bright LED screens, and highly saturated lighting.
“We’re doing that with 16 to 20 cameras in the live space where every one of these needs to be as close to perfect as possible,” adds Ritchie.
“When you’re shooting for a film, you have the luxury of time and an edit. You can just shoot Log and tweak the exposure and color later. But in the live space it’s real-time. In line LUT boxes apply our base look and our truck RCPs control Iris as well as subtle variances between cameras. The cinematographer, DITs, LD and video engineers are all working in perfect sync, safeguarding the image through every crucial step.”