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  • Writer's pictureChris Hollier

The New York Met

2020 gave me two very different experiences as a camera operator shooting classical music.

Just before the first national lockdown in March 2020 I shot the BBC’s young Musician competition in Cardiff. The shoot was “traditional” in that everyone working on the Outside Broadcast was onsite in Cardiff and changes were made with Director Sian Parry face to face.

December 2020 couldn’t have been more different with the global Pandemic restricting travel and countries all over the world in various states of lockdown, I was fortunate enough to be asked to shoot Bryn Terfel in Brecon Cathedral for the New York Metropolitan Operas Met Stars Live series.

The Director Gary Halverson (who I later discovered had directed over 50 episodes of Friends) was located in New York, with the score reader and AD also in the states but not in the same location as Gary. The Vision Mixer and LD were in the UK and our normal face to face notes meetings were conducted over zoom calls in the lead up to Christmas.

There were challenges as you’d expect but once the latency had been calculated and associated cuing had been adjusted rehearsals started to take shape.

It was interesting seeing how the dynamic of conducting camera notes changed as we all added our comments and suggestions to Gary and listened to his changes firstly from home, then our hotel rooms in Brecon and finally (after the first rehearsal) from the Naive of the cathedral; where we could all remain socially distanced and freezing.

It was the first time I’d not been able to use traditional camera cards for my shots as the master shot list and individual camera cue cards were sent digitally. I decided (as I’ve done previously with new tech - when I made the switch to LED lighting about 10 years ago) to double up with digital cue cards on my iPad and a back up paper master shot list. I purchased a couple of iPad holders and clamps and tried a number of different word processing Apps before settling on the following:

They worked perfectly, with the adapter clamped onto my pan bar it gave me a larger self-illuminating surface area to read from and using the Apple Pencil it allowed me to annotate my shots & edit my notes quickly as the latest versions came through from New York.

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