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Old May 7th, 2009, 09:45 PM   #1
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What to do during overture for Live stage events, musicals

I would like to get some input here. I recently shoot a local community theater production and am trying to make some post decisions about the edit. This is not a public release and I can't put up clips. The license only allowed a set number of DVDs distributed only to the cast members and specifically stated no public online distribution.

For those of you that have ever shot a musical (or seen one live), there is an extensive overture played by the orchestra that sets the stage for the live performance. In real life the curtain is closed and there is nothing happening visually. I have seen many discs that cut this out and just jump in when the first scene starts, but the orchestra did a spectacular job and i would really like to include the overture. It is about 5 minutes long and the way it blends from segment to segment cannot really be edited down. I was toying with opening credits during the overture but 5+ minutes of opening credits might be over the top. So what have you guys done in the past for these things do we dive in at scene 1 or figure out some way to make the first 5 minutes more visually exciting and deliver this stellar overture performance....

Thoughts please?
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Old May 7th, 2009, 09:50 PM   #2
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I should probably also mention that i am about 9 days away from the delivery deadline so timely input is greatly appreciated...

Thanks!
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Old May 7th, 2009, 10:14 PM   #3
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maybe you could do credits, then throw up some production photos in a sort of introductory slideshow? Perhaps headshots of the leading cast menbers . Put their stage names and "as played by"

That's the only thing I can think of.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 10:57 PM   #4
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I've always just pulled a Kubrick and made the overture play with a black screen. I usually repeat the overture during the credits at the end though.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 02:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Daugherty View Post
For those of you that have ever shot a musical (or seen one live), there is an extensive overture played by the orchestra that sets the stage for the live performance. In real life the curtain is closed and there is nothing happening visually.
Too late now but I always try and get a camera on the band/orchestra (with permission of course) and try and catch the MD/Conductor with another. But as a classically trained musician I know my overtures that helps a lot when deciding who to point the camera at.

More helpfully, do you have a printed programme for the show? Some scans/rostrum shots of that can be used to pad out the visuals but not if they are going to duplicate the titles. Also, exterior locations of the theatre (still or video), arty static "still life" shots featuring relevant props eg a watch, a mask conductors baton and a bottle of champagne set on a table for "Die Fledermaus" is the usual cliche. In desperation you could use CU shots panning over bits of musical instruments' anatomy (you can stretch that idea out a lot). Pictures of the conductor and producer poring over a score - the list is endless.
You can tell I've been there and have several teeshirts.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 03:21 AM   #6
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If the overture was during the intermission before the second half of the show, you could put some video highlights (just the video without audio) of some "flashbacks" of what happened during the first half. Re-tell the story with visuals, this will then lead into the opening of the second half seamlessly. You can also add some soft focus or color grading to your flashback scene so the viewer knows it's a flashback.

Last edited by Warren Kawamoto; May 8th, 2009 at 05:12 AM.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 05:00 AM   #7
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Or a variation of Warren's suggestion - an overture usually introduces the main themes in the music to come. Since in a sense it's a preview of the rest of the show, why not use stills of the visuals where a particular theme first appears as sort of a "prequel" as the overture plays, fading to black and fading in again as the overture ends and act 1 begins.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 09:29 AM   #8
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Outside images of the front of the theatre, punters coming in, some views of the auditorum, and of course the orchestra itself. Add the headshots as mentioned and you can pad it our rather well. The entr'act between halves I always thing is not the place to put extras in, and I let this one, which is usually shorter, play out with the image the audience see - either house tabs or open stage depending on the show. I don't like long black periods.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 04:10 PM   #9
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I always include the orchestra. Often the conductor is the vocal coach for the cast. It is also a big insult not to include them as they are vital to a good musical production.

I usually let the overture go until an early crescendo and then splash the title overlay for the production. Then that's it. I focus on the orchestra and it's members.

Credits go at the end of all of mine.

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Old May 8th, 2009, 04:23 PM   #10
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You could always just make the opening overture a special feature on the DVD .. separate from the main edit. Or you could just use the audio from the overture for the DVD menu audio. Those would be two quick solutions.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #11
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Tied up in the edit

Thank you everyone for your great insight. I appreciate all the ideas. To address a few specific comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin McDonald View Post
Too late now but I always try and get a camera on the band/orchestra (with permission of course) and try and catch the MD/Conductor with another. But as a classically trained musician I know my overtures that helps a lot when deciding who to point the camera at...You can tell I've been there and have several teeshirts.
Colin, this is a great idea and I wish I had given it some thought before hand. I probably could have staged this as the angle I was allowed to shoot from could not capture the recessed orchestra pit. Next time this is the sure fire alternative!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
If the overture was during the intermission before the second half of the show, you could put some video highlights (just the video without audio) of some "flashbacks" of what happened during the first half. Re-tell the story with visuals, this will then lead into the opening of the second half seamlessly. You can also add some soft focus or color grading to your flashback scene so the viewer knows it's a flashback.
This is precisely my plan for the overture on the second act. It is a 2 disc DVD set so I think this will bridge the performance nicely. Great minds...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
You could always just make the opening overture a special feature on the DVD .. separate from the main edit. Or you could just use the audio from the overture for the DVD menu audio. Those would be two quick solutions.
I considered this but I would really like to work the music in. The production is the King and I and the first act opens with Anna and her son arriving to Siam via boat. So I think I am going to go capture some footage of gentle waves at a local lake. Open with exterior of the opera house, transition to water footage with some foggy effects, overlay slow opening credits, maybe a 25% opaque overlay of a travel route animatic of the trek from Singapore to Bangkok and then roll on into the scene one footage....
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Old May 9th, 2009, 11:29 PM   #12
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Just because it bugs the heck out of the musical theatre artist in me, the music before the second act is NOT an overture, but is known as the "Entr'acte".

When I shoot a musical I do all my credits at the top of the show (remember when all movies did that?) and time them to use the duration of the overture. That is if I need to do a credit roll at all.

I never see a need to put other images on the screen, as really I'm trying to recreate the theatrical experience as much as possible. It's also the orchestra's only chance to really stand out on their own, so rather than distract from the music, by just using a shot of the grand drape it focuses more attention on the music. These overtures really are brilliant pieces unto themselves, and deserve to be the primary area of focus. If I'm able to get shots of the musicians I do, but I insist that they be edited in sync with what they're playing.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 02:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
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If I'm able to get shots of the musicians I do, but I insist that they be edited in sync with what they're playing.
You've found a pit orchestra that that plays in sync in the first place??

:-)
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Old May 10th, 2009, 02:55 AM   #14
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Leave it in, its a part of the show - especially if pit members are buying it. I always put a chapter marker just after it as well, so if someone doesn't want to sit through it, they can just hit 'next.'
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Old May 10th, 2009, 02:23 PM   #15
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Thank you again for more counter points. And Frank, you are right to correct our terminology usage. Thank you for the clarification. To address more specific points...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Simpson View Post
When I shoot a musical I do all my credits at the top of the show (remember when all movies did that?) and time them to use the duration of the overture. That is if I need to do a credit roll at all...
Unfortunately, my contact requested no actor credits on this project. I am going to address this with them again because I am not sure if this is their preference or if they were trying to save me work. If it is the later than I would really like to include the actor credits, and if it is the former, than i will respect their wishes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Simpson View Post
...I never see a need to put other images on the screen, as really I'm trying to recreate the theatrical experience as much as possible. It's also the orchestra's only chance to really stand out on their own, so rather than distract from the music, by just using a shot of the grand drape it focuses more attention on the music. These overtures really are brilliant pieces unto themselves, and deserve to be the primary area of focus...
Interesting point. Am I truly trying to recreate the theatrical experience? This is a good question for one to ask one's self. In this case I do not think so. I am trying to deliver a motion picture experience of the event hence the multiple cameras and 5.1 surround. I want to give the impression of being there but with the optical benefits of being delivered in your own home. In a musical, the orchestra gets to shine throughout the entire piece but this is the orchestra's "solo" moment. While I understand the principle of the blank curtain when you are at the live event, I would equate this to showing the entire processional on a wedding video. To me there are times that things need to be remastered when made for home delivery. Frank, thanks for getting me thinking....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Haustein View Post
Leave it in, its a part of the show - especially if pit members are buying it. I always put a chapter marker just after it as well, so if someone doesn't want to sit through it, they can just hit 'next.'
It is part of the show, and to my knowledge no pit members have purchased a copy. And as it sets the stage for the live performance it also sets the stage for the DVD/BD delivery and in my mind, at home with 5 minutes of curtain to stare at, people are more likely to hit the next or FF buttons rather than listen to the overture or entr'acte, but if I give them something to watch with it they just might let it play...
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