Livestreaming Last Train to Nibroc
On November 12, our production of Last Train to Nibroc will hit the stage at the Abbotsford Arts Centre. For our in-person audience, it will be back to the theatre experience that we all know and love.
But we're also thrilled to be able to bring everything that we've learned over the last 18 months to our productions as well. And boy, have we learned a LOT about cameras, broadcast switchers, video lighting, livestreaming, and so much more.
So, to get a sense of what to expect, we asked some questions of our livestream director, Gabe Kirkley.
First of all, are you excited to be back in the theatre?
Absolutely! It's been so long since we've been able to do a full stage production and it's such a fantastic feeling to be going back into a theatre with an in-person audience.
I had a great time over the past year and a bit experimenting with all kinds of digital theatre, but there's really nothing like an in-person audience and the feeling of all being in the space together.
That said, I also think that there are some amazing possibilities that this period has opened up for theatre. The technology has progressed to the point that even a small, semi-professional theatre company like Gallery 7 Theatre is able to create incredibly sharp broadcasts with relatively little effort and cost compared to even five years ago.
Tell us a little bit about what you've learned about livestreaming over the last 18 months.
Tons. More than I ever wanted to know.
But I think the biggest takeaway for me is really non-technical: a broadcast is essentially a whole separate production. In order to do it really well, it takes as much time and effort to coordinate as an other show that we put on stage. It can't just be thrown together.
We want people to be wowed by the quality of what we're streaming, and to have a really great experience. We haven't always achieved that over the course of the pandemic, but I think we've experimented and navigated through challenges to the point where we are now able to broadcast a really great show.
What is the set up like for streaming a full production like Last Train to Nibroc?
We will be broadcasting with a three camera setup: on the right, left and at the back of the theatre. The rear camera has a really nice zoom lens that will be able to get right up close to the action, and the side cameras will be close enough that audience will always feel close to what's on stage. In fact, they might have a better view than some seats in the in-person audience!
Those cameras are connected to our broadcast switcher and a computer that controls what is on the broadcast at any given moment.
For sound, we're lucky to be able to tap into the theatre's existing sound system, so the actors on stage will already be mic'ed up and we can get a feed out of the theatre's sound board.
What can people expect when the show starts?
We're trying to make a livestream experience that's as close to being in the theatre as possible. I recommend watching the show on your TV or a bigger screen at home to get the full experience.
At the end of the day, even though it's a livestream, people will get to experience theatre created here in Abbotsford by local artists. They'll get to watch a great show about two young people full of hope and passion. That doesn't change just because it's on a screen.