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Jónsi: Concert Timelapse at The Wiltern Theatre

Film by Henry Jun Wah Lee and Kim Reid.

Music: Sinking Friendships by Jónsi. Recorded live at the Wiltern.

We had a great time shooting this timelapse film of Jónsi’s concert at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 17, 2010. The concert was truly amazing – Jónsi’s music, his band, the stunning visuals, the energy, the fans and the historic location. In the film, we wanted to capture all of these elements that made the concert so unique and memorable.

Background
I’m normally a nature and landscape photographer so this was a very different kind of shoot. Luckily my invaluable assistant producer, Kim Reid, has experience shooting at concerts. Lighting can be very tricky. And with the thousands of concertgoers in the theater, moving around was not an option. So planning was key.

Planning
The idea was to shoot a timelapse of the concert but differently than what I’ve seen done before. Having gone to his San Diego concert two days prior to the shoot, the animated background visuals were a huge part of the set and I wanted to capture that on film. The tricky thing with timelapse is that scenes go by too fast and you can miss all the subtle details that make the visuals so gorgeous and immersive. I decided to shoot long sequences using traditional timelapse techniques – shooting one still frame every few seconds and putting it together later as a video in post. But shorter sequences were to be shot on video and sped up later during editing. This way we won’t miss the little details that we may want to highlight later. Similarly, I wanted to avoid any long exposure shots. They would ghost or blur out some of the action I wanted to keep sharp.

Equipment
Due to the video needs and short exposure time lapse shots, the film was shot primarily using 2 Canon 5D Mk II’s. Full frame still cameras that can also capture 1080p video. Fast lenses were used: Canon 24L 1.4, Canon 50L 1.2, Canon 16-35L 2.8, Canon 24-70L 2.8, Canon 70-200L 2.8, and Sigma 20mm 1.8. We also had a Canon 20D for dedicated timelapse duty. For the slow pans, we used a Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly with a motorized motion control system.

The Day of the Shoot
Concert wasn’t until 8pm but we arrived at the Wiltern around 1pm, just as the production team was unloading and setting up. We set up the three cameras around the Wiltern to shoot from set up to closing. Back stage, up in the balcony, at the front of the stage, sides, etc. The 20D did long term stationary timelapse duty. It pretty much stayed at the same place the entire day. Meanwhile we moved the two Canon 5D MK II’s around the theater every 1-2 hours to capture either interesting sequences up close or just different angles. Once the concert got underway, we switched mostly to video, shooting short 4 to 8 minute segments.

Special Thanks
I want to thank of Jónsi, his manager John Best, and the rest of Jonsi’s staff and crew for their openness and help in making this film possible. A special thanks to Darren Webb of jonsi.com for connecting us all together. And to Shaun Monson and Ian Ng for their equipment and support.

Please visit jonsi.com for more information about Jónsi’s album and concerts.

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2 thoughts on “Jónsi: Concert Timelapse at The Wiltern Theatre

  1. [...] sehr schöner Film von Henry Jun Wah Lee und Kim Reid über die fantastische Live-Show von Jónsi im Rahmen der diesjährigen Tour go. Bald wird es auch [...]

  2. [...] A few months ago I went to a Jónsi gig. I remember before the gig, someone who’d been to see him play the previous day said to me on Twitter that if I didn’t feel emotional, I had no heart. It isn’t easy to describe what it was like, but this timelapse video of a Jónsi gig in L.A recently (which had the same images projected on the screen) comes pretty close. The constantly changing backdrop was part of why it was so beautiful, and it’s also a stunning use of 2 Canon 5D MK II cameras. Read more about the shoot here. [...]

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