A celebration of silliness. Jill Blackwood stars in Zach Scott's Presentation of Xanadu.

Zachary Scott Theatre never does anything halfway. When they do a campy musical they pull out all the stops and rev up the camp. This week the Theatre opens their version of Xanadu.  This isn't your 1980's movie version either. This is a magnificent spoof-musical that made me laugh so much the image stabilization in my cameras was working overtime. 

Last night my trusty video producer, Ben Tuck, and I headed over to Zachary Scott Theatre to do some work.  Ben was there scouting locations for a video project. He was also shooting some general "B" roll during the dress rehearsal.  I was there to shoot images for the local newspaper and for Zach Scott's marketing department. I ended up with about 1855 images but many of those are similar shots with different gestures and expressions. That's why shooting people, portraits and events is so frame intensive...you might like one sort of expression and the art director might prefer another.  You shoot both.  And while you're shooting you get the expression in front of you because it might be the best one, until the next one happens and you get that one because it's even better (and on and on).

While I covered all the actors in the show I decided I'd show only Jill Blackwood in this set of blog selections.  Jill is wonderful on stage and her singing and incredible action made the show for me.  In this role she is the team leader of the original Greek muses who ends up falling in love with a mortal artist.  A big, Mount Olympus No-No.  I love the way Zach's Xanadu is propped, lit and costumed.  

Ben shot his video with a Sony a57 with the kit 18-55mm lens and his Gitzo tripod with Manfrotto fluid head.  I shot with two Sony a77s.  I used one with the 16-50mm lens (which, along with the cheap 85mm, is my current favorite optic).  On the other camera I shot with both the 85mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm G 2.8 lens.  The lighting on this production was fairly bright, with lots of follow spots on Jill, so I was able to keep the ISO in the range of 400 to 800.

Everything I shot was handheld. Everything you see here is straight out of camera with no PhotoShop chicanery or lily-gilding.  

I love the musical and all the 1980's music has gone from nostalgic to kitsch and now is just flat out funny.  Yes, I'll line up for tickets.

One more thing.  Shooting theatre with a big, bright, detailed EVF is the only way to go.  Believe me, I've done it both ways....


Tesch said...

lily-gilding? :)

A wonderful set of photos. I take it the bottom images are from the 70-200. You don't talk much about that lens except mention now and then. Do you think it's worth the money? I'm currently seeking something to replace my Beer Can and considering that lens. I just bought a bad copy of a Minolta 80-200 2.8 which I had high hopes for but it's going back because it won't manual focus. I'm starting to shoot stock so I need something nice. I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Craig Yuill said...

Kirk, do you and Ben use AF or MF with your Sony SLTs when doing video? I've heard the AF on these cameras for video is very good. I frequently press my DSLR into service to take video clips. It has continuous AF capabilities when shooting video, but the AF is frankly crap. I usually AF and then put the lens into MF mode just before shooting video. This works quite well, as long as the subject-to-camera distance doesn't change too much. At least I don't get jerky AF and click-clack noise from my supposedly silent-AF lenses when the camera is in continuous-AF mode.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Craig, I tend to shoot locked down on a tripod and I'm an old fashioned movie film shooter. I used MF and take advantage of Sony's very, very good focus peaking. Ben relies on the phase detection AF of the a57 to get the same kind of performance from his camera that he would get shooting stills. The SLT mirror design of the Sony Alpha series makes AF much faster than any of the contrast detection systems including the ones in their own NEX camera line.

In my view the a77 Sony is a great video production tool in every parameter except audio. The audio circuits sound clean and the auto gain control seems fairly sophisticated but there are times when I really want full control over the audio levels. My little Tascam digital recorder makes a good adjunct.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Tesch, I like the 70-200mm G. I must confess that I have no idea what the "beer can" is. The 70/200 is just like the Canon and Nikon versions in that it is sharp and fast but heavy, heavy, heavy. Most of the time, when I don't need the speed, I just grab the Sony 55-200mm and I'm happy with it as well.

Todd Phipps said...

The beer can is the Minolta 70-210 f/4 (constant), part of the first generation of Maxxum lenses. It's a nice older optic though it does suffer from purple CA in some situations wide open, and it is a screw-drive lens. Usable at f/4 even at 210mm, though closing down a stop tightens things up nicely. It's a budget cult favorite, and has rather nice bokeh if that's your thing. The best thing about it is they can often be had for cheap. I use one on my A57 and have been happy with it.