Deconstructing State of the City

Approximate 3 minute read

One of the difficult things we do is train someone to be a competent technician. Training someone to be a video director is really difficult. Training someone to be a competent tasteful video director via a blog post is near impossible!  But then, I love a challenge.

Why is training someone to be a competent tasteful video director near impossible? It’s that word “tasteful.” How do you teach someone to have “taste?”

A number of people have encouraged me to start a series on the basics of video direction. Really basic stuff. I will try and take on that task over the next few weeks. I think one of the best ways to start that task is to teach people how to deconstruct someone else’s work. It’s how I learned, maybe it will help you or someone on your team as well.

The way I deconstruct a video director’s product is to watch their work frame-by-frame and create a log of what the director did. Knowing where all the cameras were located is helpful information, but figuring out the camera angles is a useful skill as well. Creating a log tells us shot selection, pacing, identification of patterns, etc. It’s also great practice preparing you to create your own shot-sheets to hand out to your own camera-operators before a rehearsal.

Where then do we begin? Aside from watching other church ministry videos (some of which may illustrate good techniques, others which may not) I think the closest metaphor to someone preaching/teaching is a political speech. I’ve worked with the NYC Mayor’s Office since the Michael Bloomberg administration, that’s over fourteen years.

This “deconstructing” is of the 2018 New York City – State of the City Address delivered by The Honorable Bill de Blasio, Mayor. The entire recording is 110 minutes long! Below I’ve deconstructed only about six minutes starting with the Mayor’s entrance. The YouTube link below begins exactly at that point. Feel free to watch other parts if you are interested.

If you decide to start deconstructing other director’s work, let me know! I just may invite you to have your deconstructions posted here on controlbooth.tv !

Before we get started let’s go over some abbreviations and terminology. Duration is in seconds. “HR Balc” means a camera shot from the House Right balcony. It’s a high wide. “FOH LF” means a camera shot from Front of House in a “Loose Follow” role, “FOH TF” is a second camera in a Tight Follow role. “SR DSL” is a camera near the Downstage lip – Stage Right (which is audience left). “SL DSL” is the opposite. “Upstage” is a reverse camera angle. The abbreviations EWS, MWS, MED, etc. all refer to various Fields of View. You can find a list and definitions in our glossary.

Title: Mayor de Blasio Delivers State of the City Address (2018)

Venue: King’s Theater, Brooklyn NY

Director: Steve Vigilante

Show Date: 13-Feb-2018

Set-up: 1 day prior

Camera count: Six. Two Sony HDC1000 “hard” cameras at FOH about 80’ to stage with > 66×9.5 lenses on Fulmar Pedestals. Two Sony HDC1500 “mini” cameras on the DSL about 20’ to the podium with 20×8 lenses on sticks (handheld configuration). One Sony HDC1500 “mini” camera in the House Right balcony about 100’ to the stage with a 13×4.5 wide angle lens on sticks (handheld configuration). One Sony HDCP1R “box” camera upstage center on a rail system.

Camera Locations (click on it to enlarge)

Record: Seven. Aja KiPro

Transmission: Fiber to three destinations. (a) City Hall for encoding and streaming of the line cut. (b) pool feed of line cut to various broadcast news outlets. (c) pool feed of tight follow shot to the same.
Broadcast Audio: Mixed at FOH.

Log:

TIMEDURATIONFROMTOFoVNOTETRANS
37:22.000:05.0HR BalcStageEWSCover EntranceCUT
37:27.0
37:27.000:04.0FOH LFStageEWSCover EntranceCUT
37:31.0
37:31.000:09.0SL DSLAudienceEWSApplause w/PullCUT
37:40.0
37:40.000:16.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
37:56.0
37:56.000:05.0FOH LFStageEWS w/ScreenAt LecturnCUT
38:01.0
38:01.000:27.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
38:28.0
38:28.000:09.0SR DSLWifeMWS GroupHouseCUT
38:37.0
38:37.000:02.0FOH LFStageEWS w/ScreenAt LecturnCUT
38:39.0
38:39.000:11.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
38:50.0
38:50.000:08.0SR DSLStaffMWS w/panHouseCUT
38:58.0
38:58.000:18.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
39:16.0
39:16.000:04.0HR BalcStageEWSApplauseCUT
39:20.0
39:20.000:14.0SR DSLFormer MayorMWSHouseCUT
39:34.0
39:34.000:03.0FOH LFStageEWS w/ScreenAt LecturnCUT
39:37.0
39:37.000:48.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
40:25.0
40:25.000:12.0SL DSLStaffMWSHouseCUT
40:37.0
40:37.000:10.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
40:47.0
40:47.000:04.0SL DSLStaffMWSHouseCUT
40:51.0
40:51.000:07.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
40:58.0
40:58.000:05.0HR BalcStageEWSApplauseCUT
41:03.0
41:03.000:20.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
41:23.0
41:23.000:10.0SL DSLStaffMWSHouseCUT
41:33.0
41:33.000:21.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
41:54.0
41:54.000:10.0SL DSLStaffMWSApplause ReactionCUT
42:04.0
42:04.000:05.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
42:09.0
42:09.000:03.0SL DSLStaffMWSApplause ReactionCUT
42:12.0
42:12.000:05.0SR DSLHouseMWSApplauseCUT
42:17.0
42:17.000:02.0FOH LFStageEWS w/ScreenAt LecturnCUT
42:19.0
42:19.001:02.0FOH TFStageMEDAt LecturnCUT
43:21.0
43:21.000:11.0UPSTAGEReversalEWS Truck R-LLecturn ApplauseCUT
43:32.0
43:32.000:05.0FOH LFStageEWS w/ScreenAt LecturnCUT
43:37.0

You can watch the video here ..

What can you learn from this video?  Aside from liking (or not liking) the content, what is effective or feels good regarding the Direction?  What would you have done differently?