Video: Million Dollar Quartet. ZACH Theatre.

Gavin Talks about Million Dollar Quartet at ZACH THEATRE from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

(before you comment on technical issues can I ask you to go see the video at Vimeo and sidestep the additional compression that comes free of charge at Blogger? Thanks!)

This is part of a series of videos I've been doing for ZACH Theatre's newest production, Million Dollar Quartet.  It's the true story of an evening in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash all gathered together for an impromptu jam session at Sun Studios. The music in the production is almost a greatest hits compilation and the energy the actors/musicians bring to the show is pretty amazing.

I had done a couple of interviews for Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, and for the recent LBJ plays at ZACH, and we found them to be a really good "soft" sell for the productions. People who are somewhat interested could hit the videos for more information while the still images from rehearsals provided another layer of texture and context for the plays. We had thousands of views of the videos and saw a commensurate uptick in ticket sales as a result.

I decided to do some videos again with Million Dollar Quartet and I had a lot of fun interviewing the four musicians.

Doing a set of videos is always more time consuming than you imagine it will be. Our interviews were pretty darn efficient; all done in the course of one long afternoon, but gathering enough material for b-roll required three more visits back to the theater. One for an early rehearsal where I was able to get good videos and good close-ups, as well as the Tech Rehearsal and the Final Dress Rehearsal.

I worked with Ben Tuck to get the interviews. We got to the theater an hour before our first interview appointment, selected our locations and our shooting angles and spent the rest of the time setting up lighting and prepping the room for better audio.

I used the Aputure LightStorm LED panels for our light sources and tried to light a little differently for each actor.

We shot with two cameras. I used the Panasonic FZ2500 running into an Atomos Ninja Flame video recorder as the "A" camera. I was excited to try generating ProRes 422 files and when I look at the original video on my monitor (pre-Vimeo and YouTube compression) I am very happy with the detail and sharpness of the HD footage. I tweaked Gavin's skin tones a bit... but not much. I shot too flat but made up for it with Nattress Curves (a "curves" plug-in for Final Cut Pro X).

Ben shot a second angle using a Sony RX10ii; also in HD, and he used a Sennheiser shotgun microphone on the camera to record scratch audio, which made it easier for me to sync up the two angles in editing.

I am anticipating my next project which will allow me to use the new GH5 as my primary shooting camera and will probably go right back to shooting in 4K again. It's fun to have files that you can crop in on when editing; it makes a difference in how flexible you can be in your editing approach.

I enjoy doing this kind of work and consider it in the same light as I do swim practice: the more often you put yourself out there the quicker and better you learn. But we'll talk about what I learned on this one in a future column. The list of new aspects of my "learning curve" is just too long.


Glenn Kujansuu said...

Kirk, great content and outstanding edit of the video, audio, and stills. Your skills are getting better all the time.

Eric Rose said...

Well done! Love the use of B&W still images.

Anonymous said...


I compared this version with the first that you showed about a week or so ago. I personally like the contrast and color better on this new one. Sound is still excellent. Was glad to see the b-roller dialed down the contrast in the rx10 II.

I have a question. How did you get the color of the rx10 and the fz2500 to match so well?


Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Jay, Thanks for the good feedback. As to color matching between the two cameras we both did custom white balances from the same Lastolite WB target under the same light. From there it was a more a matter of matching contrast. My fz2500 was set to a lower contrast level. I struck a balance somewhere in the middle. Glad to hear it worked.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirk

What a charming interview, I'd love to see that show ! Great inserts and you get a clear understanding of what you're going to

see when you go to the show ! Lovely last line that made me smile. Hats off to you as you boldly move forward with your video

work an inspiration for all photographers out there thinking about the complexity of starting to use video.


Craig Yuill said...

I saw the compressed Blogger version of this video. It looked and sounded fine. No issues!

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, Million Dollar Quartet is a great deal of fun to watch. I encourage any reader of this blog to go see it if it plays in his/her area.

Fred said...

I have watched this clip on Vimeo a few time now. I thought that Gavin's last line about seeing the show with him in it was funny. At the very beginning where he starts talking before the intro it sounds (to me) like the beginning of his sentence was clipped off. I would have liked half to one second of sonic space at the start before he started talking. Could that have been because of the file compression?
I liked the audio and the background sound.
I did notice the difference in lighting between the A and B-roll. That is not a value judgment, I just noticed it. And I do think that the B-roll added interest to the main camera footage and the stills.
I liked it.

Allan. T. said...

Totally superb Video Kirk, your talents are extraordinary, I have the fz2000 here in the UK and was mainly a stills shooter, however I would like to become more video orientated, I have tried out HD@28mbs and find the video superb, I don't know much about .MOV I seem to remember I had that on one of my older Canon DSLRs, however through time I will hopefully learn the dazzling amount of settings this stunning fz2000 has, however, well done again Kirk, you really are an inspiration, thanks!!