On-Set: The making of a BSO Video

The spotlights are shining brightly as the clapperboard drops and emits a sharp crack; the camera is rolling and the director shouts “ACTION!”

Ignoring that the clapperboard is my hands and the spotlights are energy saving bulbs bought off eBay, our latest video brought a little Hollywood glamour to BSO HQ as the marvellous Petroc Trelawny popped by to lend us a hand.

Hopefully you might have seen the finished product, where in two minutes and 28 seconds you get a whistle stop tour of the great music that we have lined up for our 2012/13 Bournemouth Pavilion series. This blog shares some behind the scenes snaps of how it was put together.

A little while ago, Petroc was in Poole to introduce one of our live broadcasts on Radio 3. Having spent the morning with the crack BBC team and their incredible outside broadcast truck, he kindly offered to traipse up the two flights of stairs to our lavish “studio” and make his mark on cinematic history… So, piece of green cloth pinned on to the wall of an empty office and the light bulbs coaxed into life, we were ready to go.

Petroc Trelawny in the BSO Studio

Petroc doing his thing in the BSO office-cum-studio

Completely unfazed by his suddenly less illustrious surroundings, Petroc was brilliant and within 10 minutes we had everything needed and more in the can; a true pro and we’re incredibly grateful to him for helping us. Next we had to sort through the footage and begin to piece together the best clips, making sure everything flowed and made sense. Some quick digital trickery later and the obnoxious green hue had disappeared, leaving Petroc ready to narrate over any background of our choosing.

BSO Green Screen Sequence

Three stages of the edit: Petroc as filmed; greenscreen removed; and against the Southern Climes graphics

The problem with previewing concerts yet to happen is that there isn’t really an opportunity to film the Orchestra and soloists in action. The BSO’s busy schedule means rehearsals for a concert usually take place a few days before – not ideal when we want to show you what’s coming up next May! However, over the past few months we’ve been collecting footage every now and then of the Orchestra rehearsing and the archive is proving invaluable now. Throw in some photographs, tweak the audio, design some animation and, voilà!, you have… well, 200-odd little boxes all lined up in the editing software.

BSO video in Premiere Pro

Lots of boxes: the project in the video editor

Each box is a separate element (footage, graphic, audio or text) within the video which you can line up and play with as you go along, but you don’t really get a proper idea of what it’ll look like until the computer beats its processor into submission and half an hour later a shiny video file drops on to your desktop.

Hopefully you’ll agree that it was worth the effort, and perhaps even be tempted along to the Pavilion? Over the coming months we’re also looking forward to some bigger and better digital projects that help you get closer than ever before to the workings of the BSO. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see, get in touch! – we always love to hear from you.

Matt (Digital Officer)


That rarest of things…

At the beginning of every new season there are some things you always see. The happy faces of musicians glad to swap the sandy beaches and almost warm seas for the glamour and excitement of the rehearsal schedule, the new rota for tea duty and, more often than not, a few people with annoyingly wonderful tans and stories of glorious holidays abroad.

This time, however, I saw something that I’ve never seen before in 20 years of orchestral playing. Something almost as rare as unicorns or dragons… I saw a Double Bass player changing a string!

BSO Double Bass

That rarest of things… Jane changes a string on her double bass

As a viola player, I tend to change my strings two or three times a year. Occasionally they break (our last section principal, Stuart Green, had a fantastic habit of snapping his C strings through sheer brute force), but more often they just wear out leaving the sound dead or scratchy. Violinists change them more often, cellists less often, but bass players never, ever change their strings because they just don’t break. The lower ones are almost as thick as a finger and at well over £100 for a set, I can understand their reluctance to change for the sake of it. I’ve heard stories that ex-players pass on their strings with the instrument and the next player uses the same ones until they retire. It sounds very plausible to me and as the poor old basses get mocked as being wardrobes strung with rubber bands, I can empathise with their parsimonious ways, making a virtue of necessity.

Jamie Pullman (Viola)