Week 15: Live Music On The Show

8 05 2010

Musical Performances

Originally, our show was intended to feature a format that alternated between live music performances from local artists and our own segments (animation, interviews, narrative scenes).  We wanted our show to be an outlet for the community’s music, which is a fairly decent crop of artists.  After lining up our first two acts, we decided to focus on creating our own material.  This was not because we disliked the musical performances, but because our show was becoming too broad.  We really didn’t have the resources to be seeking out artists, arranging to film in venues, and shooting the performances for every episode we created (all in addition to the work we were already doing).  We started to grow in numbers as a staff, but our time commitments to classes and jobs just proved too great.

I’m hoping to revisit the idea by returning to it on our show or by helping create a new show for MUTV with the premise of focusing entirely on local artists.  They all need attention in order to function and grow as performers, so I wouldn’t anticipate that a dedicated group of students would have too much trouble lining up acts to appear on their show.  The biggest challenge, as we found, was finding places to film bands that wouldn’t appear too amateur on camera.

Molly Trull and Anodyne

Our first musical guest was Molly Trull (who regularly plays with a band called Anodyne), who agreed to perform by herself with an acoustic guitar.  We looked at several venues in town, originally with our eye on the Blue Note for a large-room feel with nice acoustics, but it sounded as though that would be difficult to arrange.  We decided to look for a place where we could film after hours or during a low-traffic period so that we didn’t interfere with business by putting cameras around the room.  We eventually convinced the owners of the Cherry Street Artisan (now “The Underground”) to allow us to shoot there on a weekday evening.

We used four cameras, which seemed to vary the sequence enough, but I must say that the energy is fairly low.  I instructed the people holding cameras, some of whom didn’t have much experience, to keep in certain areas of the building and to avoid moving around very much.  This was just to ensure that we didn’t have footage that was too shaky to use, which sometimes happens when the camera is moved too much without a clear objective to the movement.  In hindsight, I absolutely wish we had more of a plan for the look of the sequence, but the management only gave us a few minutes to shoot our performance, giving us only one take.  If we shot it again, I would have one camera shoot a close-up of the guitar, alternating between the strumming hand and the hand manipulating the frets.  Another camera would give us a long shot of the entire stage from the back of the building while a third would be a close up on her face, from the shoulders up, from the right side of the stage.  A fourth camera could be a low angle (similar to the one we used on the left side of the stage) that captured her performance while she was heavily back-lit by a stage light.  If we used a fifth camera, it would be nice to close in on members of th audience, although there were only a few people present at the time.  All of the shots could benefit quite a bit by having more intentional movements incorporated into their footage.  It’s important to keep the viewer’s attention by finding interesting elements of a scene to focus in on while also capturing the performance as a whole.

As it stands, the take we captured and edited was a pretty straight-forward way to present the scene, but it worked for us well enough.  I think future performances could be much more interesting if the team had a bit more experience working together, however.

Marcus Miller


For our second performance we shot most of a music video for a mixed rap track by Marcus Miller.  This was obviously vastly different from shooting Molly’s live performance.  Marcus lip-synced to his song and we shot scenes in random places on campus.  Nearly all of the extras were people who just happened to be around and wanted to be in the video.  We finished enough material for second episode and ended up leaving this video out of the episode and didn’t manage to find time to return to it.  It only needed a bit more shooting for completion, but sometimes school can get out of hand.

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