Last October, me and Magnus Rye was once again approached by Eyeworks Dinamo to do openings and intros to Norways biggest TV-show, “Melodi Grand Prix”, better known as Eurovision Song Contest. The show was up for a major revamp, and they were about to make it bigger then ever, with inspiration drawn from the Olympics and World Championship. “Larger than life” was the new motto.
PRODUCER: Eyeworks Dinamo
DIRECTOR: Magnus Rye
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Håvar Karlsen
FOCUS PULLER: Anders Leegaard
GRIP: moviebird.no with Terje Røkke, Morten Magnusson&Pål Bugge Haagenrud.
STAGE/LIGHTS: AVAB-CAC w/Tobias Blåmoli&Hans Petter Jenssen
PYROTECHNICS: Pyro.se w/Per
SOUND DESIGN: Universal sound w/Marius Ytterdal
GRADE: Shortcut Norge w/Dylan Hopkin
We set about pitching ideas, but we and Dinamo immediately fell for the grand opening of several NFL games some years ago. Stuff like this It became clear the stage was set for a major production. Eyeworks Dinamo with Pia, Mari and Magnus, started to make all the preparations necessary, amongst them gathering an orchestra. It wasn’t easy, the shoot scheduled for the last week before christmas. A busy week for most orchestras. We found a willing bunch of musicians at Romerike Symfoniorkester
Pre-production was quite intense, with several other shoots in between. After a while, NRK Promo (NRKs unit for producing marketingspots for shows)came onboard, enabling a unified look for both promotion spots and opening. it also became clear that we needed to shoot with the actual films in the background beeing projected (not greenscreen). This made for a mad dash to gather shots of all the artist that we needed. This was another huge undertaking worth a blogpost in itself. The background plates were shot on Canon 5dmrk2
Technically, it was a decision between Arri Alexa and RED Epic. We needed an high end look and the show is broadcasted (for the first time this year) in HD. We also needed 120 fps for a pyrosequence. I was not aware of the fact that Alexa recently released a new firmware, enabling just that. 120fps! So, it came down to a post-workflow decision. The down-conversion of 5k->1080p would have killed us (working in FCP), so it was in the end an easy decision. I was also eager to try Alexa for the first time. I picked the Angenieux Optimo DP Zoom 16-42 2.8 for the shoot, a great wide angle zoom making the perfect combo with the Technocrane. Onset, I used several TVlogics and the onboard false color to adjust my exposure. I viewed mostly in Rec709 (seeing the blacks properly), and switched to log c mode to check up on my exposure some times.
To get close ups and details of the orchestra, we hired Magnus Owe to shoot with a 5d alongside our crane. Those shots have been really handy in the edit.
Technocrane technician, operator and magician, Terje Røkke.
The fact that we needed to shoot everything in one day, made our setup-schedule critical. Enter moviebird.no Even though they were in the middle of a hectic tv-season, we managed to secure their 44ft Technocrane, enabling us to shoot all of the pieces (3×2 min) from only 3 positions. Amazing tool, we couldn’t have done this without it. Thanks to Terje Røkke, Morten Magnussen and Pål Bugge Haagenrud.
Lighting and projector.
A big part of this piece was two huge screens showing pictures of artists and beauty-shots of the local area of the venue. It needed to be crisp, and saturated, and match the light output of the “light wall” we were planning. We went into talks with AVAB-CAC early on , and they suggested their brand new Bronco 14k projector would be ideal.
On the lighting fixtures themself, we originally wanted Maxi or Dedobrutes. AVAB, beeing a huge stage light company, didn’t carry that. We ended up with a massive array of 8&4lites, generating a total output of 180.000w. That beeing said, we ended up never powering up much above 24%, giving us a crisp fstop around f4-5.6
Floorplan, ended up not using the 5k chimeras, 180kw backlight made the trick..
The shoot was a massive effort, both logistically and psychologically. We were to organize a 20+ crew to work in one of Norways biggest indoor halls (Norwegian Trade Expo), assemble a huge stage and light setup, and to rehearse and shoot a 40+ orchestra. And for the director and myself, it was important to keep the energy at full speed, even though we repeated so many of the setups. Every shot, every pan, had to be done 3 times, for each of the three backdrop-films. And the third time was just as important as the first. This was a potential energykiller for the orchestra and ourself. That’s one of the reasons we spread the pyro sequences throughout the day, to have something that “refreshed” the shoot. Pyro.se with Per at the buttons delivered beautifully.
Pyrosequence, captured at 120fps
We thought early on that the edit would be straight forward, because of the backdrop films “locking” us in with regards to sync. Not so much. It was of course possible to slip and slide backdrop sync, go to fullscreen, or use shots from another “city backdrop”. In short, everything was possible, and mad cred is deserved for Magnus, the director and editor, for exploring all options. The end result is in my opinion extremely tight and thought through.
I knew right away that I wanted to use Dylan Hopkin on this grade. His immense technical know-how and post-production wizardry guided me alot when it came down to camera choices and settings for the Alexa. The cameras Log-c 4444 ProRes was perfect for the job, gathering our black details beautifully (which we have alot of). Although, I needed some time to adjust my eyes to see the blacks truly black in the grading suite, and not milky as in the raw ProRes. Alot of work was put into getting the blacks unified, with not to much red in them. Our lights was constantly dimming up and down, creating dynamic light cues. But also creating trouble for our look, because every shoot needed new color balance and black adjustment. We have alot of shots… Also, the projectors were daylight and our 8lites have extremely low kelvin values (dimmed below 24%), creating a huge color shift going from projector to fullscreen (some of this quite complicated to explain without having seen the film). This was something that I should have thought of on beforehand. Because we worked into late evening getting the saturation and feel of the backdrops just right. Dylan did an amazing job!. If your interested in his opinions on the matter, check out his blog.
Ungraded vs graded look, a little insight into Alexa Log-c