Doing IMAG with two people vision mixing

Last summer I did an IMAG gig in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and we went for a three-screen setup. One main central screen and two side screens, with the side screens getting a separate feed from the central screen. It was a big event so we wanted maximum impact for the IMAG setup.

There were seven cameras set up as follows:

  • Two large studio cameras at FOH, one for solos and one for group shots
  • One DV cam at the side of the seating area for a side angle on soloists
  • two DV cameras at either side of the rear choir seating
  • One locked off DV cam at the back of the stage as ‘conductor cam’
  • One mini DV cam on a remote Pan/tilt head for ‘guitar cam’

In addition there was a PC graphics feed, and the projectors were 5k lumens on the sides and 6500 lumens on the centre (all Sanyo)

We set them up so that the centre screen did all the soloist and group work and the side screens were mainly instrumentalists, choir and conductor shots.

In addition we wired the two vision mixers (Panasonic MX50 and AVE55) so that the centre screen output (MX50) could also be fed as an input to the side screens (AVE55). This meant that we would choose to have all thee screens with the same shot (or graphic),  or split them to be different feeds.

I’ve done this kind of setup before and it’s a real brain-twister to get your head around the setup and to be able to concentrate on driving two different sets of screens at the same time. This time I decided to try something different and ended up having two people vision mixing, which was a first for me.

I operated the centre screen mix and directed, while my trusty colleague (who has done plenty vision mixing on his own) operated the side screen mix.

So, how did it go?

Well, you can judge for yourselves on this rather wobbly handycam footage shot by one of the artist’s associates

and here’s another clip


Overall I was very happy with the results over the three nights – the first night was solid but not exceptional, while by the third night we were hitting all the cues and really working flawlessly.

I would highlight a number of important factors that make this kind of thing work:

  • We had prepared a detailed breakdown for all songs of intro details, solos, instrumentals, etc. all laid out in an easy to read form.
  • We had a full rehearsal and 3 nights of concerts to build on, so we had a chance to make notes and improve.
  • We were located in a separate room so could communicate easily.
  • My colleague and I had worked together many times, knew each other’s styles and had a certain intuitive way of working together.
  • We avoided both cutting to different shots at (or near) the same time, as that was too hard to sync and looked a bit weird.
  • We paced out the show so that we didn’t over-stretch ourselves, i.e. the first three songs were the same on all screens, then we split for a couple, then song words on all three – etc. Just enough to break it up and to give the audience a range of stimulus so they wouldn’t get bored with it.
  • We also had very good camera operators who coped well with having two voices in their heads calling shots (and sometimes disagreeing!!)

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