2014 was an innovative year for production, with all sorts of highlights on the small screen, big screen and every other screen possible. What follows are just a few of the best and most memorable:
1. Hugh Jackman BOUNCES To The Tony’s:
The sheer audacity of this opening is astounding. Not just for Jackman but for the steadicam operator who follows him literally from the city street to the stage, through the backstage area, on to an elevator and back again, all in one single take. Jackman and the camera operator Tore Livia rehearsed the whole move about 3 times before tackling it live for the broadcast and it was a feat that will be hard to forget.
Why exactly was he bouncing? Well, he’s HUGH JACKMAN, that’s why!
Also, it was an homage to this, “Bobby Van’s Take Me to Broadway”:
Not only were both moving, Livia walking backwards most of the time, by the way, but Jackman eventually has to emerge and sing to start the show. I’m sure he had to pop a few sour patch kids before he got on stage to be ready to belt out those opening lines! (A few years back I had a conversation with a fellow who worked backstage with Mr. Jackman on Broadway and one of his tricks to avoid getting dry mouth before a performance was to eat something sour to create saliva. Not sure if it’s true, but if so, it’s almost as charming as the man himself.)
It was a good year for steadicam tracking shots as the creators and operators in the movie “Birdman” also proved up to the task, by seeming to shoot the movie in one seamless take:
2. OK Go – Drone Heaven
Drones became an almost household item in 2014 and that will only continue to grow in popularity as he head on in to the future. The limits of what we can achieve will no doubt change and astound with each day but for my money, it will be a long time before anything tops the OK Go music video, “I Won’t Let You Down” which is shot, again as one single take, this time with a remote drone:
Not only does the sheer amount of moving parts make this seem impossible (It reportedly took almost 50-60 takes to get it all right) but the fact that it also had to synch up to the song just boggles the mind. To achieve this, they played the song in half speed over speakers so all the dancers could coordinate their moves then sped the video up to get the frantic pace of the final product. At the very end, yes, that is still an actual shot from the drone, now nearly a half mile in the air.
Supposedly, you can also buy those motorized personal scooters, so be sure to add that to next year’s holiday wish list!
3. Live Coverage!
2014 was a HUGE year for live events with a winter olympics and a World Cup, along with the usual Super Bowl, World Series and any other host of sports competitions. Covering all of that meant we had a litany of production technology at work, from the spidercam:
To, you guessed it, Drones:
Likewise, 2014 gave us the second live musical, this time “Peter Pan” and while the response was somewhat mixed and perhaps a few technical glitches did occur, the fact that for the second year in a row an entire musical was performed for a live national audience deserves tremendous kudos. Everyone from the actors to the tech crew to the producers, directors and everyone else involved should feel a swelling sense of pride for having pulled this all together. So much could go wrong and so little did. That speaks to the level of craft, care and ability involved:
The real takeaway is that we live in an era where what rules now is the innovative and the original. Content, especially live content is king since so much of what we experience has been recorded, pre-programmed and downloaded for future use. Anything that can be done live and done well will outshine and out perform something that has a been there, done that pre-packaged feel or look to it. As we continue to march forward, technology will be leading the way to give us new ways of connecting and entertaining.
This was just a taste of what 2014 offered us on a technical level. Who knows what is to come in the next few months?