Phil Peel

Film, video, photography, sound and story




Meeting up with the student crew from Solent University.  A really keen group. I seem to be doing my normal trick of waving my arms around a lot.  🙂



Going through the script with Will, who was  vision mixing.


I had worked through the script, doing the normal analysis, highlighting who was speaking when, so I could work out which cameras could cover what. But though many scenes had 2 or 3 characters in, some had  6 to 8  and one had 13 different speaking roles.  As a scriptwriter my instinct would be to cut the number of characters, but this was the Last Supper.  Not a scene were you could suggest cutting the numbers of participants!   🙂


So on the Thursday afternoon, after some debate, we worked out the camera positions. With 5 stages and 8 cameras to cover them, it might seem a lot of cameras, but  with 3 stages at one end of the square and 2 at the other it meant less than 2 cameras for each stage. So the solution was to have the cameras fairly central at each end, so they had clear sightlines and could move across to cover each stage as needed.  The difficulty was that some of these moves were very fast.


Friday morning,  we went through a fairly haphazard rehearsal, which highlighted the problems of moving the cameras around quickly to get decent sightlines. Not helped by having spare staging blocking our camera positions.


But more critical was my inability to simultaneously direct and read my script notes.


Unfortunately there was no-one available who could act as production assistant.  So the VT operator offered to help.  Sorry I can’t remember your name


So we went through the pages of script.


P1020262-1 P1020263-1


The way I mark up a performance script is to highlight the performers on the script and then add info on where they are standing and moving on the facing page.  For the Last Supper scene I ran out of different highlighter colours !



Solent’s OB truck is slightly oddly designed for vision mixing. The front is filled with the most enormous spectacular wall to wall audio mixer, custom fitted, but the vision mixer is tucked away at an angle on a side table. The output monitor is little too high to see in the same sightline as the mixer without neck ache  and there isn’t a lot of space to put scripts on.   Still after a bit of re-arranging the furniture we got a workable compromise.  You can see me peering at the monitor.



VT play in was from an Ipad, which you can see at the bottom here.


First off was the warm up band



Anyway dead on 7:30  the square was filled with people and we got the the OK to go and played in the first opening VT.

…at which point the was a bang and everything went dead.

Coming out of the darkened truck, everyone wondered what had happened. I could smell burning and it was eventually tracked down to a burnt out power cable, which had been left coiled up under the truck.

A good example of the effect of running power through a coiled up cable drum. It gets very HOT!


It was actually quite fortuitous that it had blown before the main performance had commenced.

So having powered up again, (it would have been saved a few headaches if the truck had had a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) everything seemed OK so we  started again. Unfortunately the Audio mixer hadn’t fully rebooted.  …and that took an age. then the “Stageboxes” needed rebooting.

Everybody was hustling the poor guy on the audio desk “How long long?”   but he did a great job of staying cool and working his way through he menus.


(It seems you can’t switch on anything  technical nowadays, without it having to “boot up”

There are some disadvantages to computers. )


You can see the audio desk in the background here.


So as the large audience were waiting, we decided to go ahead with the vision only and PA people would play in the sound for the opening VT independently. So we ran the VT pix and  Phil le Clem ran from us to PA desk counting out loud to get the  sync right. 🙂



The plan was to get OB truck  sound system sorted out as we were “broadcasting” the programme.



This worked fine, except we couldn’t get the on stage sound out on the OB truck internal speakers, which meant I couldn’t hear anything. Not easy to mix complex multi-character scenes when you can’t hear the dialogue.  So we opened the door and I listened to the sound from the main PA!    🙂

Not easy to identify who is talking, when you’re listening to an echoing PA.  still it seemed to work.



So we started with the 3 stages at one end of the square.  then a procession covered by wireless link camera through to the other end



..and back to the first stage.    …and then back and forht a few times.


The only other problem was a short VT play-in from the Ipad of a nicely filmed dramatic scene.

When we came to play this the sound was fine but no pictures!   I decided that as we were right in the middle of the most dramatic parts of the play it would be best not to stop. The audience could hear what was happening and hopefully think it was a deliberate artistic decision.

When the sequence had finished, we discovered that all we needed to do was unplug and replug the Ipad and it ran the video pictures fine.  Must have been very frustrating for the film crew after all the time spent producing the sequence. but that’s what happens with live TV.


So apart from these technical hitches, it all ran fine. The camera crew and I had all learnt to work together and from the feedback we got the organisers were very happy too.


So  a good day.

OB in the Guildhall square

Posted by Phil On April - 21 - 2011


Just completed a very intermittent tech rehearsal. Marred by drunks. But I suppose it’s to be expected in a city centre in the UK on a hot Thursday night.  Still all roughly sorted for tomorrow.