There aren’t that many documented instances of the intersection between the worlds of classical music and football. Nessun Dorma’s use during Italia 90 is one that sticks out (in a performance made famous by one time goalkeeper Luciano Pavorotti), along with my personal favourite; trying to spot Fabio Capello in the audience at Barbican concerts during his ill-fated tenure as England manager.
It is however precisely that unlikely pairing that helped prompt the genesis of LSO Play – the new interactive online video project we launched earlier this week.
Back towards the end of 2009 the orchestra, and more specifically LSO Live, was taking its first steps into the world of video production. Would it be possible to record a full orchestral performance in a fresh and dynamic way, captivating to a new audience used to consuming media in short sharp bytes, yet not alienating for those to whom the concert going experience is a treasured activity? The plan was made to place manned HD video cameras amongst the musicians, eschewing the standard wide shots, and capturing a sense of motion and level of detail previously little seen in concert recordings.
Under the direction of Christopher Swann, each camera feed was captured individually, to be painstakingly (I imagine) edited together in post-production into a completed performance video, released into an unsuspecting world nearly a year later through the iTunes store.
When it was finished we organised a showing for the orchestra’s players in one of the Barbican cinemas. Writ large upon the screen, the extreme level of detail became still more apparent (even down to the individual beads of sweat flying from Valery Gergiev’s forehead at the piece’s climax!), and during conversations with players afterwards the same few themes starting emerging.
“I wish it was possible for my dad to see how we see Valery”
“It’s brilliant how you can see every little movement of my fingers”
Were fairly typical of the kinds of comments being made, starting off the thought processes that led to LSO Play. And this is where the football came in.
We wanted to present an experience that was more involved than simply watching a video. One where the user felt a level of control and ownership over what they interacted with. And when we started to think about the innovative ways in which video content is presented, sports coverage very quickly came to the fore.
Think. While watching a game of football on TV you can often use interactive services to focus on a camera following a single player, listen to alternative commentaries, even control replays of significant moments. Then, after the game’s finished, a bunch of pros analyse the performance, picking out key moments and explaining tactical decisions so that we can all become experts from the comfort of our sofas. What if we could apply a similar treatment to a musical performance – the raw footage we had of the Bolero recording?
At this stage we really have to doff our hats to Sennep – the East London design studio who helped us realise these fledgling ideas. From the start they totally got what we were trying to achieve, and really helped make the project a genuine experience through their careful analysis and research into user behaviour. The design is astonishing, and their technical geniuses are the ones responsible for making sure everything stays in sync throughout!
It feels like it’s taken us a long time to get to this point, but we’re really happy with the way it’s turned out, and are already looking forward to planning how we’re going to present future performances, different orchestrations and improve the range of additional content available in the ‘explore’ section. We’d also love to hear what you’d like to see – more masterclasses with different instruments? the view from the stage manager’s perspective? GoPros on the bass bows?!? – so please feel free to leave us some suggestions in the comments.