Wisconsin Public Television makes a lot of television. And, since we commissioned our mobile production truck, a lot of that television has captured a wide range of musical performances in theaters across the state. From solo performers to full ensembles, these productions bring viewers like you and me right into the front row from the comfort of our own living rooms.
But, how does it all come together? Well, that is a big question that includes miles of cables, lots of talented crew, many cameras, finely tuned microphones and, as I learned this weekend in Green Bay, a little bit of choreography off the stage.
While audiences were quickly being enveloped in the spirit of the season at the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops! concerts this weekend at the Weidner Center, I stepped out into the cold and up into our truck to see how the taping was going. As usual, I found our engineering and production crew busy at work monitoring audio, making sure the video was all right and switching between the cameras in the theater that were catching all the action.
But, how do the show’s directors make sure they are capturing the right action? In this case, down in the lower right hand corner of the photo above, I found director Steve Doebel and Young Performers Initiative manager Shannon Lobdell working in close harmony – with a lot of preparation – to hit all the right spots. Shannon, a classically trained musician herself, sat with a score of the entire concert – marked with post it notes with each important point of each track.
Trombones here, timpani there. Male voices here, females coming in over there. Like an orchestra conductor, she bounced a metal pointer across the sheet music, relayed what was coming to Steve, who deftly called out the necessary shots to each of the camera operators in the theater and the video switcher in the truck. The result is a seamless program that captures all the energy and vitality of the live show, never missing a solo or emotional note, that all of us can enjoy this Thursday night at 7 or at 3 p.m. Christmas Day on WPT.
But for now, I just had to turn on my video camera to capture just a brief moment of the television production dance so all of us can take a peek inside the making of music TV.