Warner live-streams SXSW 2013 performances with arsenal of 10 Nikon D4 DSLRs

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For its three-day residency at the South by Southwest festival from March 12-14 in Austin, Texas, Nikon was tapped once again to film Warner Music Group’s daytime and evening showcase performances, featuring the likes of The Flaming Lips, Paramore, and Tegan and Sara. The evening showcases, in particular, are to be captured by Nikon high-definition video-capable DSLR cameras and live-streamed via WMG’s premium YouTube channel, “The Warner Sound.”

“The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon” event takes place at The Belmont Austin, and Nikon – in its second year as title sponsor – is employing its D4 DSLRs to record the event. We spoke with Nikon senior technical manager Steve Heiner to get the low-down on the equipment being used, what goes into shooting the concerts, and how they captured good sound to go with the HD imaging.

nikon-sxsw-2013-3Heiner said, similar to last year’s coverage of the showcase performances (photos shown here are from 2012 SXSW), Nikon is using 10 D4s, chosen for their professional speed and accuracy, with high image quality, even in low-light conditions. But because Nikon needs video in addition to still images, Heiner said there was an even more important factor when selecting them for the job.

“The most crucial element for this project is the fact that the Nikon D4 has the ability to feed uncompressed 1080p video directly out of the camera via the HDMI.”

The cameras are being paired with a variety of lenses – including the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24MM F/2.8G ED lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70MM F/2.8G ED lens, and an AF-S NIKKOR 70-200MM F/2.8G ED VR II lens. And their operators will be shooting from and with a variety of different positions and styles, respectively, over the course of the event.

“A number of cameras will be attached to tripods in fixed locations throughout the venue, offering different vantage points of the stage and the crowd,” Heiner said. “We will also have cameras attached to various rigs in multiple stationary positions, as well as roving camera operators using mobile rigs to capture all of the action, in both still images and videos.”

But all of that impressive tech behind the imaging aside still leaves arguably the most important aspect of recording a live concert – coincidentally the same area where even the highest end of DSLR video capturing tends to lag – quality sound. And while Heiner is quick to note that the D4 offers advanced sound options like a microphone jack and headphone reference monitor, he said when it comes to concerts, Nikon is leaving the sound to the pros.

“The sound will go through the production team’s soundboard for the cleanest, most natural sound with no distortion,” he said. “Interviews and behind-the-scenes footage audio will be captured on camera using an external microphone, such as the Nikon ME-1 stereo microphone.”

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