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.