DYVI has a starring role in Francis Francis Ford Coppola’s Distant Vision live cinema project
Award-winning American film director, producer and screenwriter, Francis Ford Coppola has directed some of the most iconic movies of our generation including the The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now. With a career that spans four decades, Coppola shows no signs of slowing down, continuing to create and push boundaries for a new generation of audiences through his California-based Zoetrope studio.
Testing the limits of cinematography and storytelling, Coppola’s latest project, Distant Vision, combines the immediacy of a live event with the sophisticated cinematic grammar of film, or “live cinema.”
Distant Vison is a traditionally scripted story that’s rehearsed and blocked before being performed live and broadcast in real-time to online audiences. The first part of the project, which tells the story of an Italian-American family spanning four generations, was captured at UCLA. With so many actors, backdrops, and action on different sets, Coppola needed a live solution that would be able to capture all of the moving parts to create a cohesive narrative.
EVS’ DYVI IT-based switcher brought the entire project to life, used to cut together feeds from the 40 on-set cameras. The film’s 17 scenes each had their own distinct camera requirements, so each scene’s inputs and sources were pre-set for each one in DYVI, dramatically reducing set-up times and simplifying the overall production process.
As each scene was captured, its pre-set inputs and sources were displayed on one of the two multiviewer screens in UCLA’s control room controlled by DYVI, while the next scene’s set up was displayed on the other screen. These multiviewer scene displays were generated internally by the DYVI system. The live scene was highlighted by a red background – a virtual on-air recording light configured for the Distant Vision production.
The technical director who operated the switcher has extensive live sports experience, including for large professional golf and football events such as the Super Bowl final. Even with this experience, permanently displaying all 40 cameras, when only 10 to 15 were used in a scene, would have been very difficult.
Thus, the DYVI panel was configured specific to the challenge: only scenes, not cameras and servers, were assigned to its lower part - traditionally the “PP.” Depending on the selected scene in the lower part, the upper portion showed all cameras and servers used in the current scene, another section showed those for the next scene – allowing the technical director to fully prepare the scene before swapping it to live.
At the critical time of switching from one scene to the next, thanks to sophisticated powerful macros, Francis’ view was automatically changed from one multiviewer to the other, and brought a new set of sources to the technical director’s fingertips.
An EVS XT3 live production server was also used, with all scenes cut and recorded on a 12-channel XT3 during rehearsals. Since anything can happen in a live broadcast, the technical director could immediately cut to the XT3 channel of pre-recorded content, avoiding any mistakes being delivered to the audience watching live at home.
Discussing the concept, Francis Ford Coppola said: “I felt the need to experiment in order to learn the actual methodology of live cinema, which is a hybrid of theater, film and television. The shot is the basic element, as in film; the live performance is from theater, and the advanced television technology to enable it is borrowed from TV sports.”
“I want to thank EVS for their great help during this experimental production and for their unbeatable tradition of precision and reliability.”
Francis Ford Coppola, Academy Award-winning director, producer
The concept of live cinema consists of utilizing feeds from various cameras, instant replay servers and other sources, which the director can switch live with the most technologically advanced broadcast equipment. Therefore, Coppola believes a new kind of moviemaking is possible — performed live and viewed by an audience in real-time.
“I think the dynamic multiviewer and control panel assignment are the two most important elements from the point of view of the director,” said Coppola of DYVI”s implementation. “In the system our displayed sources could be dynamically rearranged at any time during the production. This allowed me to focus only on the sources needed at a certain point of the production and enabled faster and more direct switching for our technical director. The way we could set up and use DYVI would have been impossible on a conventional board.”
This multiviewer installation meant that the traditional broadcast setup – having all available cameras displayed at once – could be replaced by this more logical, pre-set configuration, perfect for the live cinema project’s production.
Delivering the excitement of live theater and supported by technology that powers the world’s biggest broadcast events, live cinema represents an entirely new kind of filmmaking and new viewing experience. Coppola, for one, recognizes the close connection between the artistry and the technology, adding, “I want to thank EVS for their great help during this experimental production and for their unbeatable tradition of precision and reliability.”