URSA Broadcast at Cirque du Soleil
The latest broadcast technology from Blackmagic Design, including the new URSA Broadcast and ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, is used to deliver a 4K live production for Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère.
Blackmagic Design announced that Moai Films (led by Lukas Colombo) joined forces with Los Nativs (led by Jacob Mann) and Rebel Studios (led by Carlos Lopez) on a live production of Mystère by Cirque du Soleil using Blackmagic’s newest line of broadcast products, including URSA Broadcast, Camera Fiber Converter, Studio Fiber Converter, ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel, and ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K. The large scale, multi camera, live switch shoot was powered by the latest Blackmagic Design broadcast technology using the company’s new Fiber Converters to create a full 4K workflow across Cirque du Soleil’s expansive theatre.
Mystère is one of Cirque du Soleil’s longest running shows, performed in a custom theatre at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As with many Cirque du Soleil productions, Mystère combines powerful athleticism, high energy acrobatics, and inspiring imagery, thrilling audiences with its whimsical drama.
Lukas Colombo is the multi-award winning filmmaker and founder of Moai Films, a production company that has produced countless commercials, music videos, narrative films, TV series, and documentaries. He has received over a dozen international and national awards for his narrative work, and his music videos have been viewed millions of times online via MTV, VEVO and VH1.
Colombo, along with Director Jacob Mann — the co-founder of the newly founded Mixed Media Design Studio, Los Nativs, which specialises in live event coverage, multi-cam audience experience, and storytelling – captured the performances using a 10-camera set up featuring Blackmagic Design’s URSA Broadcast, URSA Mini Pro and Micro Studio Camera 4K. The set up included an URSA Broadcast camera on a 20-foot jib, one URSA Mini Pro camera on a Dana Dolly and two others at the front of house, one Micro Studio Camera 4K on a Ronin handheld stabilizer and four additional Micro Studio Camera 4K’s mounted across the stage.
Colombo had previously used Blackmagic Design’s URSA Mini Pro to shoot multiple scripted television series and films. “I knew that these cameras would perform flawlessly on this live 10 camera Cirque du Soleil production. The new advanced video mode in the URSA Broadcast camera gave us beautiful colour straight out of the box. We were able to use a traditional 2/3” sensor with B4 lens mounts for our operators to reach and hold those tight shots following the acrobats, while tracking the incredible energy of the performers and the show. We shot 800 ISO all around and primarily used Fujinon’s new 4k glass, which was a great pairing on these wide dynamic range cameras.”
Project Manager Carlos Lopez added, “The show’s visuals are amazing, the music is beautiful, and the athleticism is out of this world. Our challenge was to put our viewers right in the heart of the action and having a full 4K production made the footage much more exciting.”
Echoing that sentiment, Mann added, “Cirque du Soleil is romantic. With the URSA Broadcast, we were able to achieve a broadcast environment without sacrificing the cinematic look and feel that the artists were looking for. We had 10 cameras plus a video village, and we were completely up and running in an hour and a half. That’s how streamlined the Blackmagic Design products are.”
He continued, “We used the new ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel, which was great. It responded so well. We also used the new ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, five HyperDeck 12G units, and five HyperDeck Studio Minis. We were able to do ISO records on everybody, plus our program records, as well as use the Camera Fiber Converter and Studio Fiber Converter — so we had full control of colour, tally, and talkback, and we had our signal flow going back and forth. Everything just worked so well together. It was like a master suite.”
One of the things that impressed Colombo the most about the Blackmagic Design live production workflow was the ease of use of the ATEM camera control software, which he used to colour grade and color match all of the cameras during production. He was able to make tweaks on the fly and change the colour while Mann was cutting the cameras simultaneously.
Mann added, “Lukas was engineering cameras right next to me and actually being a colourist he was creating art with a beautiful screen in front of him. We started cutting and getting into it, and the excitement of the Cirque du Soleil employees was palpable. Even the athletes were taking a break to watch. They were all so pumped to see their art represented properly.”
Colombo concluded, ”It was a blast to be able to shoot such an incredible show for Cirque du Soleil and to implement Blackmagic Design’s new broadcast solutions on such an epic stage.”