CTV Videotaped the St. Michael's Concert

CTV volunteer Joey Stepnick contributed creative shots of the band and vocalists using a handheld camera.

Joey holds the camera on his right shoulder.
Heather gives a thumbs-up from behind the video camera.

Heather Minter operated one of the stationary cameras for the August 1, 2006, Roseville Big Band concert at St. Michael's Lutheran Church in Roseville.

In addition to broadcasting live from Central Park, CTV15 community television volunteers videotape indoor concerts for later broadcast on channel 15 in the area served by CTV15 North Suburbs (Arden Hills, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Little Canada, Mounds View, New Brighton, North Oaks, Roseville, St. Anthony and Shoreview). The August 1, 2006, concert was originally planned as a concert in the park, but it was moved indoors due to stormy weather. Even when a concert like this is not broadcast live, the video production goal is "live to tape." That means that when the concert is over, the videotape is ready for broadcast; no further editing is needed.

The crew for a video production like this typically includes a director (acting both as overall video director and technical director), an audio board operator, a videotapes specialist, a graphics specialist (to put the names of songs, performers, and other credits on the screen), an equipment technician, and five camera operators, two of whom are holding portable cameras on their shoulders. All of the volunteers are trained and certified for their positions.

To prepare for videotaping a Roseville Big Band concert like this, band director Glen Newton, who is also a CTV volunteer, gives video director John Rusterholz information about the music and where each of the performers will sit or stand, along with "road maps" of each song, indicating who has the melody in each musical phrase. John uses this information to plan the sequence of camera shots before the concert begins. He also uses it to prepare the opening title sequence, identification graphics, and credits. (For certain productions, the plans are even more elaborate.) During the concert, only the camera operators are in the room with the band. The others are in the CTV production van, which is a television studio on wheels.

On the day of the concert, the crew arrives several hours in advance to string cables, set up equipment, and check levels. Each performance space presents unique challenges for the video crew as well as the performers. At St. Michael's, one challenge was positioning the microphones appropriately to avoid distortion due to the high volume level of a big band playing in a small space.

To start the concert, director Glen Newton lets the video crew know that the band is ready to start, and then the floor director (Joey Stepnick for this concert) cues him to start playing when the show's introduction has completed. (For concerts broadcast live, the start time is determined by the scheduled air time, so the band has to make sure it is ready on time.)

After that, the video director and crew follow the script if possible and make adjustments when necessary. The director sees all five camera shots on monitors inside the production van and decides instantly which will be the one to go onto the videotape and thus be seen by the television audience. The director also tells the graphics person when to put the name of each song or soloist on the screen and when to roll the ending credits.

The high quality of the CTV15 videos of Roseville Big Band concerts is due not only to the video crew's technical skills and creativity but also to the fact that video director John Rusterholz and several of the other volunteers are accomplished musicians.