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Old August 15th, 2004, 05:28 PM   #1
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Beastie Boys on Letterman

Hi all,
Did anyone catch last weeks Dave Letterman Show with the Beastie Boys?, They started their performance a couple of blocks outside the theatre and ended up going through the back door and onto stage almost all in one shot using a steady rig of some sort. Looked like an amazing achievement for a live TV performance. Anyone know what they used as the steady rig?
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Old August 16th, 2004, 02:03 AM   #2
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Oh boy, I'm just waiting for Charles P. to chime in on this one ;) I think it would have been a steadicam but you never know. Regardless of the type used if the operator behind it did a great job then it should not matter on the type of rig he or she used to make the shot.
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Old August 16th, 2004, 10:26 AM   #3
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Well, I didn't see it, although I have seen them do that sort of thing before on Letterman but usually handheld.
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Old August 16th, 2004, 10:54 AM   #4
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OK, I allowed myself 5 minutes to search out of curiousity, here's what I found.

Here's the clip (from a German site!) of the performance. Due to the use of the fisheye lens, I couldn't ascertain the nature of the camera mount.

Then I found this picture of the performance, which shows a simple handheld setup in use. Again, the ultrawide lens would tend to smooth out footsteps making handheld look like a stabilizer, but I still give props to the operator for doing a great job (it's tiring backing up for that distance, at that speed).

I am however disappointed that the original shot didn't continue out onto the stage. It makes me think that it was pre-taped and the Boys just busted onto the stage at the appropriate moment. As I recall, the Letterman tapings start at 5:30 pm, and that article refers to the street "happening" as being around 5 pm, so perhaps that is a good indication that the performance was staged in two pieces.

Either way, that's fun television!
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Old August 16th, 2004, 11:26 AM   #5
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Good finds Charles...

I saw that live also and was disapointed that they didn't continue the shot also.... I remember thinking that the first half was taped, and second was live.... but in thinking about it that would in many ways actually be more difficult technically. At the end of the clip Paul suggests that it was live... by if you lie with the visuals, why not also with the words? :)

Strangely, the photo that you found has the BB in different outfits... could this have been a rehearsal? I can't imagine they would change for that, but you never know. If that is handheld I am amazed, even with the fisheye.

Agreed, it's good television.
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Old August 16th, 2004, 05:20 PM   #6
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It looked as though it was on some form of rig especially in the opening part of their performance, you could see a shadow of something and the climb up the steps had a sort of balance wobble. I think it would have been quite hard to piece 2 shots together live for sound reasons, although maybe they have a post edit? the show we see here in the UK is definitely heavily edited so an afternoon pre-record could easily have been done.
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Old August 16th, 2004, 07:15 PM   #7
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Nice catch Nick! Yep, you are right, there is definitely a stabilizer visible in that shadow. I can go as far as to say that it is in low mode, although I couldn't make out the exact model from the shape of the sled above the camera. It certainly makes more sense visually that this was what was used, although my hesitation comes from having seen some incredible handheld over the years, especially with a lens that wide.

And combined with what Barry came up with, I'm wondering if that picture was a rehearsal done even on a different day, or a technical dry run (with a handheld cameraman standing in for the Steadicam operator).

Either way, I feel confident in the assumption that it was pre-taped, otherwise my sense is that the shot would have continued the extra 25 feet onto the stage--why have an arbitrary cut right at the critical point? As far as it being harder to piece together, actually I feel it would be pretty simple. The pre-recorded track with the vocals on top for the first half would be playing in the house; at a certain point, the BB would start doubling their vocals and the sound mixer simply had to pick a point in between lines to punch from the prerecorded vocals to the live vocals, while the track continued. I did something similar to this years ago on a much smaller scale (the band was pre-taped goofing around in the dressing room, then amaking their way to the stage where they then appeared in person, giving the appearance of a live backstage camera).
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Old August 17th, 2004, 03:41 AM   #8
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well still, it was good stuff in a take.

Kinda reminds me of Coldplay's breakout 'yellow' and how they probably had to speed up the music at the shoot and do the filming, so that it would be in slow-mo. Also probably had to have one of those nifty GPS gadgets to calculate the exact sunrise time ?? just like what bob zemeckis did for Contact with jodie foster.

Is this a safe assumption to those in the know ?
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Old August 17th, 2004, 08:09 AM   #9
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I didn't watch the show and don't know anything about if they used a stabilizer, but I would like to take a brief moment to mention that the Beastie Boys ROCK.

Thanks. Please continue...
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Old August 18th, 2004, 03:27 AM   #10
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Well, I posed the question in the Steadicam forum, and just about everyone piped up and supposed the same thing that I did in terms of the street section being pre-taped. It turns out that we were all wrong; according to the operator, it was indeed live and continuous. At least I got the low-mode Steadicam part right--oh, no I didn't, I thought it was handheld at the top of the thread, huh. I think I'd better quit while I'm way behind!

Here's the thread on the Steadicam forum with the operator, Claus, chiming in on the details.
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Old August 18th, 2004, 08:33 AM   #11
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charles,
nice find - i tivo letterman every night and spent quite a bit of time with the 'slow' button during the cut from back- to on-stage. i was pretty sure there wasn't a cut (easy for me to say now, huh?!) and knowing a little about how that show is produced, i was pretty sure it was live. thats a hell of a shot.
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Old August 18th, 2004, 12:30 PM   #12
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Well, I think the odd thing is that they didn't just follow the BB right onto the stage with the Steadicam shot, and then cut away to the wide stage camera which would have eliminated all doubt. The Steadicam shot just died in the dark, then there was that brief pause before they came out on stage. It made it LOOK like there was a transition from tape to live involved, even if there wasn't. It's like doing a magic trick, and asking the audience to look away in the middle for no reason; they'll assume you've switched something around!
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Old August 20th, 2004, 03:39 PM   #13
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More info on that still image of the handheld cameraman that I linked earlier in the thread:

Claus (the Steadicam operator of the shot posted the following (read the full thread at the Steadicam forum link I listed earlier):

The photograph that Charles makes reference to is CBS camerman George Rothweiler who did one of the rehersals for me while I switched the rig into low-mode.
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