The Tempest is a Shakespearean production performed at Brockenhurst College and directed by Alexa Philips. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to allow guests to visit the campus and watch the production in person, it was agreed upon to deliver the college's production through digital means (YouTube premiere live stream then sold through the Brockenhurst College website).
When I was first tasked with filming The Tempest, I was told to film in a similar way to The National Theatre. This meant we had to record the production in a way that allowed us to swap to the best suitable angle, and to give us the ability to cover multiple characters and reactions, we used a 5-camera setup
Approach to Production
As Director of Photography, I was responsible to create a workflow and camera setup that would match the style, tone and format that Alexa wanted to show in person. Working with a full in-house technical department, we worked on creating a stage that was blocked to be functional and looked great on camera. We used a 5 camera setup - 3 wide-angle cameras, positioned on the left, right and centre stage with 2 "reaction" cameras, running 55-200mm telephotos. Connor Quayle and I were the camera operators, each responsible for 2 cameras each, with production manager Ryan Butterworth handling audio and one of the wide angles.
Audio is a key part of theatre productions - in which we tackled through the use of 2 pencil microphones, positioned on the left and right of the stage, running into a mixer with a pre-amp (to power the microphones through phantom power) then into Logic Pro as a dual mono mix, that was then synced in post-production. Due to the theatre being positioned around numerous busy locations, we had to mitigate any potential outside noise, requiring us to configure noise gates and other equalisations.
Production and Post-Production
The Tempest was recorded over the space of 4 weeks, 1 day per week. All the sound effects and scores were recorded the week after production finished and was edited every day after production and then for 2 days after to compress to a master timeline and add in any credits, motion graphics and soundtracks.
In editing, I utilised Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2020 heavily using Multicam and nested sequences to synchronise all 5 cameras to each other and the master audio track outputted from Logic Pro. The final sequence is 1080p 23fps, which is suitable for all publication platforms.
Having never filmed a theatre production before, this project was really fun and engaging allowing me to learn a lot more when it comes to filming multi-camera operations and editing large scale projects.
The Tempest Trailer
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