Camera kits

Classical music gets unconventional treatment

Classical music gets unconventional treatment

Internationally acclaimed pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi takes inspiration from the elements of nature in his latest stunning work so any recording of his electric live performances have a lot to live up to up.

London-based indie Magenta Films took up the challenge, working with large sensor Canon C300 cameras to lend a cinematic sheen but with B4 mount lenses and adapters to provide a greater depth of field.

The Italian composer especially wanted Magenta to capture a complete performance of his latest album and most recent touring concert ‘Elements – Live’.

"The way the performance flows has been really well thought out and our job was to give a faithful representation of that,” explains Magenta managing director and producer/director Alexander Freidin-Goss. “Ludovico’s lighting designer [Francesco Trambaioli] has really outdone himself on this tour and the lighting and the projections are simply breathtaking.”

The lighting design, however, was intended for the stage and a live audience rather than for filming and this is where the camera choice was particularly important.  

“For the projections to work as well as they do the band themselves can sometimes be slightly dimly lit and to an extent we wanted to keep that slight element of mystery,” says Freidin-Goss. “But we also had to had make sure we catered for audiences at home.”

Five Canon C300s (two with HJ40 lenses and 3 with HJ22 lenses) were selected with IBE and Arri B4 mount lens adapters to permit B4 mount lenses to work with the PL and EF mounted cameras. A full complement of tripods, camera monitors and memory cards were also rented from VMI. 

“I've been shooting on the C300 and now the MKII for years and it was very much a format we were comfortable with,” says Freidin-Goss. “Obviously, suddenly using the B4 adapters with HJ22 and HJ40 lenses did add a layer of intricacy as what is essentially a compact camera become something of a studio camera but it performed really well. It also helped that our camera team was fantastic." 

He elaborates, “Having the depth of field of the C300’s large sensor coupled with parfocal ENG lenses was really handy in a live setting. We did consider using Arri Amiras for a while but having witnessed the show being performed many times before, I was a little concerned that perhaps we should just stick with the incredible low-light of the Canon cameras.  We were really happy with the footage.”

Freidin-Goss had used VMI on occasion for several years, usually on smaller scale projects. “I’d always thought of them as really friendly and professional but what really struck me was their willingness to help out in preproduction, allowing us ample to carry out camera test at their head office in London,” he says. “It was great dealing with Alasdair Wilson. There was a lot of mind changing and re-arranging but he was great. We also really enjoyed chatting to Mike White during our camera test. It’s fair to say VMI were a part of the crew.”

Filming was done in three chunks at the end of July 2016. Two concerts were shot in front of a packed Royal Festival Hall and then, on a separate day, Ludovico and his band performed all the tracks just for the film crew. 

“Being on stage that way really allowed us all to feel at one with the music which obviously was creatively fantastic, allowing us to capture unique shots we would have struggled to get on the night but also on a more personal level it was just a wonderful experience to have Ludovico and his band just play for us. It really made us all feel connected to the music. That afternoon was one of those really special moments that I think everyone in the crew will remember. 

As much as Magenta’s brief was to give a faithful representation of the concert there was also room for to add a little added drama through pacey editing. This is particular evident on the tracks ‘Logos’ and ‘Numbers’ where the editing helps heighten the drama. 

He toyed with the idea of shooting the whole production in C-Log but in the end decided to run with standard rec 709 colour spaces to save some time. 

The project really came together during the grade which was done at Narduzzo Too by Vince Narduzzo. It was slightly daunting as he works from a projector so I was able to see the concert projected on a really large screen,” reports Freidin-Goss. “Every time there was a cut from one performance to another I could tell, but after the grade the two halves are almost indistinguishable.  The final film really flows effortlessly."

Magenta’s film Elements Live is released on DVD and will be shown on Sky Arts on September 11.

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