When Michael McDonald mentioned he wanted to record him and Boz Scaggs preforming “You Never Can Tell” for Chuck Berry’s 80th birthday, I was understandably excited. I was also, like, ok… how do we pull this off with what we have?
The answer is : round up every digital camera that shoots video in the venue, regardless of make, model, or capabilities. Stick two on-stage in front of the artists, clamp one to the drum set, tripod one on the B3, and use the last to catch shots from down in the pit. Run on-stage right before the encore, push record, and hope that it all comes out in post.
The result, as you’ll see, isn’t horrible, but it’s definitely not as pretty as it could have been. I’m still learning how to expose for stage lighting, and many of the cameras had very little control over exposure, let alone aperture. Add to that 5 different codecs and 4 different resolutions (ranging from full HD to 640 x 480) and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some extra work when it comes to post.
I used Magic Bullet Instant HD to upsample to 1280 x 720, and Colorista II to grade and recover some of the blown-out highlights (oh, why can’t every camera shoot video in RAW!). Some of the footage was still having issues in terms of color matching, highlights, and black, so I crushed it through Quick Looks and Mojo to give it a uniform, if unnatural, look.
The result is a quick and dirty capture of a great performance by a great band, and a loving tribute from two greats musicians to another. I’ve learned a lot about what I would do if faced with this again, so in that respect, it’s win-win!
Check out the full story over at the CBS St. Louis website.