Panasonic Takes to the Stage with Disney’s Broadway Hits

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The new Disney live concert celebrating over 20 years of Broadway shows received its European premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London in October 2016. This one-night-only event marked the first time this show was seen in Europe, and was staged as a broadcast version.

The two-hour concert of Disney’s Broadway Hits has premiered on Sky Arts Network on 21 December, available to audiences throughout the UK as well as to worldwide subscribers of Sky Arts. Panasonic professional 4K cameras comprised of 13 VariCam LT 4K cinema cameras, two AK-HC3000 4K studio camera systems and five AW-UE70 4K integrated pan/tilt/zoom cameras captured the concert of musical hits.

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It featured music from the award-winning scores of Aida, Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Tarzan, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the rest of the Disney Theatrical catalogue performed by the 75-piece BBC Concert Orchestra alongside a large cast of stars – including eight-time Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken and members of Aladdin’s West End cast.

The Panasonic 4K camera systems, delivered and configured by rental company VER London, were the centre of a complex equipment package, controlled via a fly-pack built around Evertz routers, Grass Valley Kayenne switching and Riedel communications.

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Jay Hatcher, Broadcast Video Director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said, “This event had so many elements—the orchestra, the 80-person choir, West End and Broadway celebrities, glorious lighting, Alan Menken, the famous venue—that it was fairly daunting. As the TV production designer and director, my objective was a cinematic look, a visually beautiful product to match the magic of the music.

“I was extremely pleased with the quality of the 4K cameras and how they performed, especially in view of the amount of footage involved, and the variety of shots and points-of-view that were required. For every shot that I designed, Panasonic and VER were able to deliver a system for us.”

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During the week leading up to the concert, Jay’s team was also shooting a behind-the-scenes documentary recording the performers as they prepared for the live show. Panasonic and VER worked together to configure four of the VariCam LT packages for single-camera ENG field shooting.

With the objective of recording multiple viewing angles of the concert as well as capturing shots of the venue’s historic Italianate architecture, one LT was placed on a 30ft jib in the upper gallery, another on a second 30ft jib in front of stage left. Two LTs were placed on risers on both sides of the floor, right and left. There was an LT on a Fisher dolly on the arena floor, looking across the audience onto the performance space. Another LT was placed in the second level Loggia Box on stage right. During the dress rehearsal, there was an LT on a dolly directly in front of the stage, and another on a Steadicam on stage to capture wraps.

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John DeMaio, the concert’s Director of Photography, explained that because the VariCam LT is very agile, the 4K camcorder was able to be utilised throughout the massive Royal Albert Hall. The lightweight Super 35 sensor camera suits handheld, Steadicam, jib, crane, drone, gimbal and overall cinema verité work.

The two UC3000 studio cameras were placed at front of house shooting toward the stage. One was on a riser on the floor level. The other was placed in the second level Loggia Box. Of the UE70 integrated PTZs, one was hung on the stage facing back toward the audience for Alan Menken’s performance at the piano, another in the lighting grid pointing down, another stage left, one trained on the conductor, and the last on a back rail pointing out to capture a reverse shot of the orchestra or wide shot of the audience in front of house.

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John DeMaio said used the VariCam LT’s dual native ISOs of 800/5000, choosing ISO5000 for extreme low-lighting situations. ”The concert was gorgeously lit with a rich colour palette in Disney style, but lights were kept down on the audience, which numbered close to 5,300, so as not to undercut the viewing experience,” he said. “I don’t know of many cameras that could have pulled it off with this level of success, capturing the effects of lighting that changed from song to song, while at the same time not disturbing the audience.” At ISO5000, the VariCam LT can capture effective images from dark scenes that are unobtainable with other cameras.

The DP said the concert was shot in 4K V-Log to create the broadcast version. “Panasonic’s team worked in advance to provide a LUT for the live switched show displayed on the large in-house IMAG screens, and we utilised that LUT in the early stages of post,” he noted. “In terms of colour matching, we worked only slightly back from the LTs to the UC3000s and UE70s - overall colour rendition was excellent.”

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Outboard recording from the UC3000s and UE70s was done in ProRes 4444 to AJA Ki Pro recorders. In addition to his DP responsibilities, John DeMaio supervised post. Editing for the Sky Arts broadcast was done in Adobe Premiere Pro, and colour correction in DaVinci Resolve. “We’d shot an ungraded 4K master in V-Log, so we didn’t realise the full effects until after the colour correct,” he said. “Details jumped off the screen and brought the show to a completely new level.”

The VariCam LT lens package included a mixture of Canon Cine-Servo 17-120mm 4K T2.95 PL, Fujinon 14-35mm T2.9 Cabrio PL Zoom and Canon CINE-SERVO 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9 lenses. The UC3000s used a Canon XJ95x8.6B HD DigiSuper 95x lens and Fujinon XA99x8.4 HD Digi Power lens.