Last night I went to a concert and they had live IMAG. Now overall this company did a great job with video. There were some personal preference differences but it looked good. One of the things that drove me nuts though (and in fact it is one of my pet peeves) is when a director will Trashcan video. By trashcan, I mean quickly cut between all available cameras at the end of a song when the band is holding and riding that last chord in a high-energy fashion.
This got me thinking about the different pieces of production, audio, video, lighting and how they incorporate to our experience as attenders/ observers. I asked myself the question, “Who creates the show and who enhances the show?” What I mean is who creates the experience for the attenders/ observers and who supports that creation?
So I started at the beginning, why are we attending this concert? We are all attending the show because we enjoy the music of the band. They are the first level of Creation, they create the music, the set-lists, the arrangements, ect. These songs are then enhanced through audio reinforcement via a PA and an Audio engineer. Now a good audio engineer is critical to the experience at a concert but they aren’t creating anything, only enhancing/ reinforcing the sounds coming from stage. Again, it is extremely important to have a good audio engineer but they don’t have much to do with creation.
Then, as bands get bigger add in lighting, and lighting helps create an experience. Yes it does enhance the band, but lighting is key in creating a good show. It is like building blocks above and beyond what the band has created. As the building blocks go up they may eventually get into video elements such as produced content displayed on LED panels, walls, or via projection. Again, adding to the creation of the show.
If you have ever seen a band live more than once, ask yourself what was better from one show to the next. More than likely when a band gets bigger they add in more production elements to create a more exciting environment. And even as you hear the same songs, as well as some new songs, what the band has created has relatively stayed the same, only the tools used to add to the experience have changed Creating a better experience for the attenders.
But eventually you get to IMAG, and Cameras. Video and cameras are different, video is content used to help create the show where cameras are there to enhance the show to the audience. It should re-enforce the show that was created via the band, lights, and video elements. There is no need to re-create the show through cutting cameras.
I see some directors do this, they feel like they need to hit every beat and create energy as if the band is standing still like props and the only way to make it interesting is to cut really fast or on every beat creating “flashy” video directing. It is in this moment that people stop watching the band and start watching the video directing. At that point you are cutting cameras to music and people could almost careless what or who is on stage. And at the end of a song when a Band is Trashcanning and going nuts, there is no need to go nuts cutting cameras, there is enough energy between the band and lights that the cameras can easily translate this energy by holding longer on shots and letting the audience connect with the band. I’m not saying you won’t maybe cut cameras a bit faster but refrain from creating your own “Trashcan.”
The show has already been created, so enhance it, don’t create a new one.
I believe audio and video (IMAG) are support roles used to enhance the show happening on stage.