Despite the pandemic the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has continued to perform to global audiences throughout the past 12 months. This is no small part thanks to a recent upgrade to Panasonic 4K PTZ units at St. Luke’s – the converted church rehearsal space in London’s Old Street that is home to the orchestra’s community and music education programme, LSO Discovery.
When the LSO was forced to halt performances at its ‘home’ venue of the Barbican, the orchestra decided that the show must go on. The floor space at St Luke’s could just seat the full orchestra with social distancing, but it meant that a different camera set-up was required in which the cameras are positioned around the musicians.
The new system consists of seven Panasonic AW-UE150s cameras. Featuring a 1-type MOS large sensor, this PTZ camera supports high-quality 4K 50p video with simultaneous 4K/HD operation. It is equipped with a 75.1 degree viewing angle, 20x optical zoom and versatile outputs, including 12G-SDI, HDMI, optical fibre and IP.
The cameras are connected via their fibre modules, with a spare line to integrate an additional camera or connect to an OB unit where required. One of the ancillary spaces in the basement has been converted for use as a TV gallery, where there is capacity for up to three camera operators. They can use both the new and previously installed Panasonic cameras, which were already in place to record smaller chamber-scale concerts. Each operator has the ability to control multiple cameras, whilst the controller flexibility allows LSO St. Luke’s to tailor its approach to the script density.
“One of the imperatives in keeping the orchestra performing safely was to minimise the number of other people in the space,” commented Peter Mycroft, technical manager for LSO St Luke’s. “The Panasonic PTZ cameras have been particularly helpful in allowing us to remove camera operators from the performance space, but still capture a concert in the same quality. We have found the cameras can be easily hidden from view and are also extremely quiet. They perform extremely well in low-light conditions, and the optical quality has noticeably improved.”
Reflecting on the benefits of the upgrade, Mycroft added: “One of the most exciting things about taking on the challenge of capturing the orchestra at LSO St. Luke’s is that we have been able to put together a much-improved system, which in turn has allowed us to take on more creative filming possibilities that wouldn’t have been previously considered. Getting the orchestra to return to the Barbican is really important for us, particularly to have live audiences for live music, but to bring some of that joy to our audiences from LSO St Luke’s has been fantastic.”