Collaborations Video

Orchestral Performance Video Documentation: Eric Lemmon

Lee Milby camera

The Impossible Will Take a Little While: composed and directed by Eric Lemmon.

The set up included 3 GoPros and 7 DSLR’s. I set up every shot, with the edit in mind, and later edited the over 1 hour long video alongside Eric Lemmon, the composer and project director. I love to participate in documenting the realization of people’s dreams. When I was doing wedding video and photo, I often became caught up in the moment right alongside the bride and groom, and definitely got teary-eyed, even as an objective participant in a stranger’s life event.

We had one wide shot at center as the safety. One camera was handheld by a PA in the audience with a fixed wide shot, another handheld roaming camera with a zoom for details, and then I was moving around throughout the performance, following the script to re-position the other tripod-cameras in order to capture the best shots for the performances. It was challenging to anticipate and improvise shots quickly enough to capture the necessities.

With a scripted film, you have the luxury of time. You get to plan the shots in pre-production, or at least envision them before you’re on set. But with live performances, you have to think like a performer. Just as they only have one shot in front of the audience to play their piece perfectly, the videographer has only one chance to accurately capture everything.

Lee Milby camera
Lee Milby holding a video camera, standing with Dr. Lemmon, the father of the composer/production director, Eric Lemmon.

The orchestra was set up in a center half-circle, with the audience encircled around them partially. I kept one tripod camera on one side and one tripod cam on the other side of the semi-circle so that I could arrange the cameras without having to carry one too far. To travel from one side of the other, I had to swiftly run behind the audience. I took my shoes off so that I could walk as silently as possible, and not interrupt the performance.

Lee Milby and Eric Lemmon
Lee Milby transferring video on a laptop with Eric Lemmon after the performance.

After the performance, data transfer had to happen immediately. However, all of the performers were so eager to celebrate at a bar down the street, that in a stroke of absurdity, we carried the laptop and external hard drive WHILE IT WAS STILL TRANSFERRING across the avenues of Manhattan, and then continued the transfer in the back of the bar.

Lee Milby performance video documentation
Lee Milby reviewing video from the performance.

As a documenter, it’s a uniquely privileged position to be responsible for history. The choices you make, the way you frame the shots, color, editing, etc. All of these choices frame the story for ever. It’s an honor to direct.