On May 10th, Mother’s Day we embarked on our first massive multi-camera live stream. As a team there was a lot of excitement surrounding this project and it would be the first time we were working a show all together. To add an extra layer of pressure to the mix we had two very enthusiastic sponsors – Folktale Winery, who provided the venue, and the Carmel Bach Festival who sponsored the event. With this in mind we wanted to make this live stream as special as possible. The Bach Festival had just released the news that their entire Festival season was cancelled due to Covid-19 and we felt like it was the perfect time to show their members some beautiful content.

Edwin Huizinga of Fire and Grace was the true MVP of this event, talking with the sponsors, securing funding, and working with us on every detail from the streaming platform choices to the floral arrangements (donated by the amazing Ashleigh Poland).

So with a flurry of anticipation and excitement we arrived on location at Folktale Winery at 9:30 to begin the day.

The Setup

Since this was our first multi-camera and multi-performer setup, we came as prepared as possible.

Our team roles had been defined in previous meetings and we had made sure everyone had tested their cameras and equipment. Kevin was on A1 duty and setup and would run the BlackMagic Studio 4K camera on the guitarist during the event. Grant was the video director and would set shots, adjust color and ISO, and run his Olympus camera on the violinist. Razz was the lighting designer and would be running the livestream broadcasting and manage the chat rooms and social media. Chelsea was the video switcher and second camera director who would decide which feeds would be sent to the broadcast.

Folktale’s Barrel Room is a cavernous and reverberating space with a lot of visual appeal and light control. With the massive doors closed we had a lot of ability to control the lighting even during mid-day. The massive barrels made for a fun if monotonous background so we opted for a playful lighting scheme of golds and purples to offset the starkness of the barrels and to evoke the floral themes for Mother’s Day. Two elipsoidal lights provided performer spots while our large ADJ movers created the pattern backgrounds. The floral arrangements were highlighted with battery fueled pin spots.

The Event

There were many lessons learned throughout this event. One of the primary lessons was – hardwire the computers as much as possible. Some shaky WiFi connections resulted in a late start to the broadcast and ended up down sampling the streaming to 720p. This may be the case for most of our broadcasts in the Covid era but a hardwire connection might have made up some of the difference and allowed us to stream at 1080p.

The audio during the performance was rock solid and very lively, needing very little touch ups or reverb due to the massive size of the room. The classical/folk performance also dictated that our production team deliver the performance as organically as possible and we mostly let the incredible Fire & Grace shine through.

Live stream performing without an audience is incredibly exhausting for the performers and this event was no different. But having two artists able to play off of each other was definitely a help, and Edwin and Bill are consummate professionals. The comments and appreciation for the event in the chat rooms were very enthusiastic and I was almost sad that the performers had opted not to see the broadcast feeds.

The end statistics of the stream were very promising for future events and our whole team left Folktale that day feeling very proud and excited about the potential that this kind of streaming approach has for our live arts community.