Our client Opera North wanted to put on a series of orchestral performances for supporters during the pandemic. It was at a time that theatres were still closed and crowds were unable to gather in large numbers. The company approached us to help deliver a total of 5 live streamed events online featuring a number of musicians and a presenter over a number of weeks.
There were a number of challenges we had to iron out before we could begin planning in earnest. The company’s usual rehearsal space was not available as it was being renovated. Instead the performances had to take place in a large warehouse which didn’t have great acoustics or wifi. Our solution was to use a dedicated sound engineer to manage and mix sound and use a Teradek system to provide a separate network, thus ensuring the broadcast was as resilient as possible. The ever changing Covid regulations also posed challenges. All our performers had to stay 2 metres from each other which created a large spread of musicians, requiring multiple cameras to cover them. But we didn’t want either the extra people or cost associated with having multiple manned cameras. Instead we used our suite of remote cameras which were controlled by our director, who was able to mix live between shots to deliver an engaging broadcast. Our in house presenter Kate Simms was engaged to introduce the music and act as a continuity safety net should any problems arise. She was also able to support with scripting the presenter links and developing questions for interviewees.
With many cameras and cables we rigged for the performances ahead of time. On the day of each live programme, we held a number of rehearsals to ensure we were as prepared as possible and to “block out” camera and presenter angles. Our director Richard had to manage multiple performers, live and preset cameras, a sound engineer, a presenter, titles and on screen graphics. It was an incredibly complex platform to manage but Richard’s experience over decades of live broadcasting for the BBC meant he kept everything running smoothly. Meanwhile presenter Kate was able to us her similar live experience to ad lib when a violin string broke, pausing the performance for several minutes
Opera North was delighted with both how professional the streams looked and how seamlessly they were delivered. Up to 600 people watched live and there were more views afterwards.