By Randi Altman
Seattle — Conrad Denke has been in this business a long time. He is founder of Seattle and LA-based Victory Studios (http://www.victorystudios.com), an early adopter and pioneer in HD production and post.
Since the introduction and implementation of HD, the industry has changed, and Denke and Victory Studios have changed along with it, now providing script-to-screen solutions. “I’ve been moving away from post exclusively and focusing on production,” says Denke. “Now our competition is the same people who used to be our clients! And it’s not just production. It has to be original production because the fight for business in the normal production arena is brutal — so I’ve embraced original production, along with keeping the shrinking post part of the business alive.”
One of those original productions is music series Band in Seattle, brainchild of former musician Denke, who was inspired by “an unfulfilled need for up and coming bands to get their music out to larger audiences rather than simply through the club scene.”
He says bands project a different kind of image when those who have never been in a band — or never experienced what it’s like to be an entertainer to live audiences — interview them. “Because of my own experiences, I like to think that I can help the band members give a more interesting and complete picture of what band life is really like and how the great music most of them play is created.”
Owning two production studios, and all the production equipment, post gear and staff to go with it, Denke knew Band in Seattle could be produced at Victory.
A pilot was shot in early 2013 with a band named “Mountains & Tunnels,” and its creator Chris Poage. It was from this experience that Denke and team found the right format for the show going forward.
“What seemed to work best was a mix of live performance and interviews with band members in their natural habitats at work or home,” reports Denke. “Originally it was planned to shoot the band performances at local clubs, but what works for a night club and a TV studio rarely match”
So Denke contracted with LA producer and set designer Shannon Hart to build a club in Victory’s Seattle studio. Care was taken to make sure the band’s performance could be recorded multi-track on an Avid Pro Tools system so the resulting music would be the quality of a professional recording studio, and that the studio had both a professional live and recorded sound.
THE WORKFLOW, GEAR
On the technical side, they opted for four Panasonic AC160 HD cameras for the two jibs, the center main camera and the floating hand-held camera in the front of the stage. In addition two GoPro’s were used for getting those intimate shots of the drummer and other musicians. Another HD camera was used to shoot the host of the program.
All the signals were sent into the control room to a Blackmagic ATEM switcher for a switched version of the concert. Each camera also recorded onboard ISO for access later in editing. The audio was recorded to a 24-track Avid Pro Tools with two operators: one controlling the house mix for the 100 audience members, and the other for the multi-track mix which would be fine-tuned later. After the shoot, including interviews with band members, all the footage was put into Victory’s CatDV system, logged and made ready for the editor. The program was assembled using Adobe Premiere. After the cut was finalized, a new mix was made along with color correction and closed captioning with CPC Captioning software. Graphics were done in Adobe After Effects.
Season One of Band in Seattle included filming 26 bands in the studio and over 100 individual interviews with band members. Generally, each half-hour episode included two bands
Band in Seattle is offered in two formats: A half-hour television program, and as full concerts of the band’s performance on Victory’s stage. The television program is broadcast at 11pm on Saturday evenings in the Northwest on KSTW, the CW-11, owned and operated by CBS Television.
“The goal of the program is to have it available internationally,” reports Denke. “Currently we are in discussion with several Internet distribution outlets for carriage.”
The episodes and full concerts are also available on www.bandinseattle.com. Companion material for the Web is also being developed from the full interviews and other material gathered from celebrities like Sir Mix-a-Lot, who has endorsed the program and appeared in television commercials for Band in Seattle.
“Band in Seattle is about music. It’s about musicians and the sacrifices they make for their art. It’s about where the music comes from and about bringing that music to audiences,” sums up Denke. “Band in Seattle is meant to entertain, inform and inspire. It’s about a special place in this world where music is nurtured, where band members collaborate with other band members, where individuals find motivation to improve from watching and sharing with those who inspire them.”