The Closest You Can Get To Real Life Now Is Live

UNITED collaborates on the release of the first concert film ever shot in 4K for Muse

With 16 4K cinema camera’s in the stadium for über-realistic detail Serpent   Productions and UNITED/OnLine Media and director Matt Askem bridged the last gap between life and live and between close-by and close-ups. Their project ‘MUSE at Rome Olympic Stadium’ is released for cinema on November 5th in London.

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“The edit suites in Hilversum looked like a war room, with an enormous meter long work flow chart on the wall. At some point, with only one week left, we had planted a hundred little flags to see which scenes and shots had been finished and to check whether we perhaps again needed to skip a night’s sleep. Still, we were only ready with the 2K for Color, the first light Color Grade, the Q HD viewing and some of the paint jobs. About one third of the whole process. Thanks to the sheer magic and creativity of the colorists and media managers and other technicians, we finished it in time and made it a pretty smooth and peaceful operation after all, though we indeed had to tackle many unforeseen technical challenges.”

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British director Matt Askem  and producer Dione Orrom speak about the technical and creative people from United’s post-production facility OnLine Media, housed in the Music Pavilion in the Media Park in Hilversum, the Netherlands. “Without these guys it couldn’t have happened, given the short timelines and complexity of the edit, but Bolke and his team have been utterly amazing.  Together we practically invented how to use 4K in order to bring the look and feel of film in this multi-camera set up.”

The two weeks of 4k post production were nothing compared to the operational and logistical complexity required for the filming. We had only one month to prepare for the shoot of the concert, cameras had to be flown in from all over the world. It was the first time someone took on 4K on this scale and we had to organize and pioneer the work flow from scratch..”, adds Bolke Burnaby Lautier, operations manager for United.

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New Olympic Muse                                                                                                                               The adventure started in June when the preparations for MUSE’s massive gig in the Rome Olympic Stadium for the 6th of July were prepared. Rock band MUSE, with over 18 million sold albums, one        of the biggest bands in the world, had turned to Matt Askem and Serpent Productions for a live product. MUSE are known for their energetic and extravagant live shows.

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“ I wanted to make this film really filmic, and I was determined to use film lenses and the new digital film cameras which also gave us the opportunity to take a step further and capture this in 4k which really adds another level as it is so immersive.”, explains Matt Askem.

“… I wanted everyone to see every pure emotion in the audience and of the musicians, plus the latter’s artistry, from their toes where the music ascends, so to say, to their virtuosity-flow controlling fingertips and their expressions, in every angle and in every background. As clear as   when you yourself would be up there in the midst, struck by the same euphoria by so much recognition and enthusiasm right in front of you.”

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New technical savviness                                                                                                                                  Instead of 6 or 8 Film cameras mixed with HD cameras, which has been the regular approach due to cost and technology limitations, Askem, Orrom and Burnaby Lautier decided for 16 Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K (4 times HD!) cameras with optional cinema lenses, 5 Angenieux 24/290 lenses, an Elite 120/520 lens and a number of  Optimo 14/52 lenses. Usually these are steered with film zoom/focus controllers, but now a conversion was realized so they could be controlled with video zoom/focus demands. Next, they chose two brand new Fujinons, the 19-90 Cabrio and the 85-300 Cabrio, film lenses with already a video functionality. Zooming and focusing works as with video, perfect as handheld combinations. Thanks to support partner VER (Video Equipment Rentals) everything could be flown in from all over the world in time.

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The stage set-up included a crane, a Towercam, various hotheads and a Spidercam. Control of all cameras took place in United’s XX-LARGE OB-14, the 16 meter fully equipped outside broadcasting truck. A reporting truck and another two trucks with trailer completed the caravan from Hilversum to Rome, needed for the equipment and the 44 man strong crew and in order to technically combine all audio and image sources in mobile units.

More technical savviness: control of all cameras was done just like video cameras on a film set, from within the main truck while the IRIS-control set up was made via a separate data stream. When the content asked for it, focus pullers were informed via an intercom. All imagery was stored in HD and 4K (4 times HD) on 30 3-terrabyte hard drives. Apart from video 120 lines of multitrack audio were recorded, everything redundant. The result was 4 sets with material, 2 sets main and 2 sets back up. An enormous quantity of data.

Because of the enormous challenge integration of all aspects would ask, Serpent Productions could   only have worked with two or three parties in Europe. “That they chose United is because of our experience with large scale projects such as the Olympics, sports and other mass events like indeed pop concerts”, says Burnaby Lautier. “Apart from technicians we can bring our own brilliant camera men. Necessary, because only they would know how the whole system was built up, which leads to a better understanding and closer cooperation with the director’s team.”

New Business Case                                                                                                                                           The late summer sunset, the Olympic area, the Italian passion, the fact the band knew it concerned a live registration, one might wonder what the reason was, but the show turned out, as front man Bellamy later confirmed, the best gig of the year. Indeed, full of emotion and seamless virtuosity and naturally with the recordings as astonishing.

The whole case proves 4K probably might as well be the next standard for huge live events. While  also as a business case it’s interesting since production companies like Serpent and United are already becoming  clever in creating enormous production value within workable budgets. With one registration one prepares for all media, including content for mobile websites, websites, YouTube and TV-clips and broadcast programs, DVD and BluRay, and now Cinema can have the best format too.

United, based in the Muziekpaviljoen at the Media Park in Hilversum, provides full service management facilities for media and broadcast organisations. United is able to offer a broad and diverse range of services from its many departments. United is part of Euro Media Group (EMG).

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