Last night was the opening night of the Singing Christmas Trees. It’s quite simply the largest production we do. Hundreds upon hundreds of man hours go into getting ready for this production. Two 40′ trees with 266,000 mini lights controlled by MIDI hold hundreds of choir members.
This year the theme is Reflections. The drama shows scenes of people going into an attic, looking at their Christmas storage, and remembering Christmases… long long ago. I wanted to do something that allowed the audience to participate in this, as well as something kind of cool with technology.
If you have ever been the Disney’s Hollywood Studios here in Orlando, and seen the American Idol Experience, you may remember the video camera that came out into the line pre-show, and later that footage appeared in the production. I wanted to do something similar. I wanted to go into the crowd for the show, have them share a Christmas memory, and show that at the beginning of the presentation.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a wireless connection from an HD Grass valley into an editor, tied to a playback system. How could we do it? We talked about it, I asked for advice. There are two elements that take up time in the process from recording to playback that we would have to cut very short in order to accomplish the task. We had to be able to get the video into the computer quickly and we had to be able to get it out of the computer quickly.
In order to make this work we used a Sony Z1U with a FireStore FS-4 to capture the footage. From there we transferred the Quicktime files to a Final Cut Pro for a quick edit. The animation, graphics and music bed were already waiting on the timeline. Once done, we played the video directly out of the computer through an AJA, into the utility input of our video switcher. We practiced this a couple of times before the opening night.
It’s basically a 45 minute turn around. Last night the video finished final renders about 10 minutes before we needed to play it back. In order to cover ourselves in case of a equipment malfunction or human error, we will always have the video from the night before ready to roll, just in case.
It was nice to see this be successful, and well received by the audience last night.
And Saturday (we hold some clips over from the night before, if they were good or funny):