WORLD TOUR #9 : UK
Touring the UK is something I’ve spent a fair amount of time doing the last few years. From barebones in a van with just myself and a band in C-market towns, up to in a bus in the larger A-market Academy venues; anyone who’s done this even once gets the jist of it. There’s lots less to be discovered here than anywhere else we’ve toured recently; I usually know where the closest coffee shop to the venue is, where the power points are and more often than not my laptop knows the WIFI password. I love getting to see friends in each town and consistently big crowds, although some of the last couple of weeks has certainly felt a little less glamourous than around the world prior.
Through our time in Asia and Australia, I kept footage well sorted and labelled, but didn’t have time to edit much other than select particularly good bits as I went. I looked forward to Europe and travelling on a bus so that I could get my teeth into the edit a bit, and work on travel days/on the bus – where we usually have dead time in the evenings and morning. However, I didn’t anticipate how well Architects and the bands we travelled with in Europe and the UK would get along, and almost all of our time on the bus travelling was spent forging friendships, admittedly over lots of alcohol – with While She Sleeps and Deez Nuts. Definitely 2 of my favourite tours to date.
One of the bonuses of going home briefly before the UK tour was a re-supply of parts and consumables. More memory cards, iPhone cables (which get lost daily on tour!) and batteries, but most importantly a replacement remote cable for the FS700 from Sony Australia. After getting the broken remote cable repaired in Hong Kong (see here) it required further attention in Australia, before breaking completely in Europe. I’d spent so much time in Australia trying to track down a new part – explaining I couldn’t bring the camera in/send it away for repair, that I could fix it myself given the part, and the nature of my work repeatedly over the phone, I finally got in touch with a retailer in Sydney who could order in the part for me and post it to my home address in the UK. The first day of the UK tour I was reunited with a fully working handgrip again – relief! The camera is still fully operable without it, but I’ll discuss this more in an in-depth FS700 review in the next week or 2.
Touring in the UK brings the added bonus of local film maker friends to help out as second/third camera. Not only that, but my brother Mat rode on the bus with us for the majority of the UK tour and is pretty handy with a camera – so made a great jib assistant on many nights.
A huge thanks also to Steven Prebble, out with Bury Tomorrow – who helped out on great second/third camera shots across numerous days; check out his blog here. My friend Alex Cribbs brought his FS100 to the first show in Southampton – I wish I could use this camera as a second camera every night!
It’s a diffuclt choice but I would highly consider moving entirely over to the NEX series of cameras, and using an FS100 as B-Cam, plus a 5N/7N as handheld. James Tonkin wrote a great post on shooting the new Coldplay Live DVD (which I can’t wait to watch) with Sony cameras, definitely worth a read – http://www.dslrnewsshooter.com/2012/10/09/james-tonkin-shoots-coldplay-live-2012-documentary-with-sony-nex-cameras/
It’s going to be a tough decision for the next set of lenses I buy to stay with Canon mount or go Sony NEX…
FS700 & FS100
Our second day in the UK was the almighty Warped Tour UK. 10,000 people, 4 stages, 30 bands… and as excited as I was to shoot it, neither the band or myself knew what to expect. Alexandra Palace is one giant room, how would 4 stages fit? Would we have permission to shoot video (as so many other venues in the UK have clauses/fees to do so) – and most how many people would the band play to? With 4 stages and unannounced timings, they could clash with someone else big.
I was pleased to discover no filming limitations in place, and a stage manager happy for us to setup the jib. Glorious. I sat down with some of the crew before the set to go through our plan.
The main difficulty that was in the huge main room, the 2 ‘main’ stages were actually one stage split down the middle. With only 5/10 minute changeovers, the other band & crew would be setting up and line-checking, whilst the band next to them were mid-way through their set. I wanted to make sure we avoided shooting any of that side of the stage, whilst still capturing the large crowd infront, which would inevitably be a little lopsided.
All previous stress and worries about the day were thrown out the window the moment the band walked on stage, into what felt like the perfect slot of the day – darkness had just fallen, and it seemed the entire 10,000 attendees were in the main room, with much more energy than they displayed for the bands playing later. Everything really fell into place for this set – it’s undoubtebly going to be the highlight of the UK section, and the entire film.
The anticipation, buzz on stage and crowd noise felt like we were on tour with Rise Against again, when I filmed this mini documentary earlier in the year. Watching this back – I never could have expected this would lead to a job of this magnitude, just goes to show…
We shot some of the other bigger shows in the UK – Glasgow and Nottingham with the jib & mutlicam setup, usually with myself side-stage on the FS700 w/11-16mm, Steven in the photopit on the 7D w/35mm f1.4, Mat on a balcony/front-of-house desk on the 550D w/11-16mm on the jib, and an extra 7D w/ 50mm on drums if possible. My highlight jib position was in Glasgow, on the balcony in the Garage – which enabled me to swoop down over the crowd. Here, during Ali’s inaugaral crowdsurf-to-the-back-of-the-room, I could get the camera just a couple of feet away from him and follow through the air, a hugely unique shot.
Much of our other time in the UK, and a couple of days afterwards were spent shooting interviews rounding up the trip. I can’t speak highly enough of the Rode Lavalier mic for this task, I could never shoot any sort of extended interview again without it. The audio quality side-by-side with even a decent shotgun mic is fantastic.
I’ll post up some samples of the audio when I get into post production.
Another bit of kit I’m a bif fan of is my Kata rucksack. I had some reservations about it’s cost before the trip, but knew it would be money well spent. It has come through the trip completely undamaged, and happily transports my Macbook, hard drives, FS700, 7D and all lenses and accessories. My brother has a smaller version, and after seeing mine our tour manager Ben bought a larger version. Very happy customers!
Ethics: I do have an affiliation with Rode Microphones, but do not with Kata.
After travelling to so many wild places, it was somewhat ironic the World Tour finished in Norwich! The show was killer though, so no complaints. After filming the set day-after-day it was somewhat surreal we were all doing our jobs for the last time this year.
100 days, 75 shows, 25 countries
We headed back to the band’s home Brighton, and conducted interviews whilst everyone got Avocado World Tour tattoos, an appropriate souveneir.
I spent another day in Brighton summarising the trip over extended interviews, to make sure we have voiceovers for everything covered. There’s a fair possibility I will re-visit the band in the near future to voice-over some parts of the film if they need it – though the final structure and directive is still to be confirmed in post-production, and could take an alternative turn which doesn’t need them. Best to cover as much as possible while I’m with them though.
It’s difficult to describe my feelings as I left Brighton and returned home finally. It feels incredibly surreal to have seen so many places, in what is actually quite a short time – yet feels like I’ve been away from home for an eternity. Undoubtebly it’s been the trip of a lifetime and many of the places I’ve visited would have been inaccessible off my own back. I am hugely greatful for Architects in allowing me the chance to document their experiences, and am particularly happy to have a huge amount of incredible footage, which I’m confident will form one of the best music documentaries out there. Post-production, here we come…
BTS Photos – Nick Worpole, Steven Prebble
Technical blog posts on cameras/workflow/editing coming over the next few weeks!
Huge thanks to anyone who’s took the time to read these updates over the past few months, hope they’ve been of some interest.