AMIRA and ALEXA Mini capture Kanye live

To unveil Kanye West’s YEEZY Season 3 fashion collection, the artist combined the show with the premiere of his new album “The Life of Pablo” in a live broadcast from sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York City. Moving Image & Content (MIC) was tapped to execute the sensational event that would be streamed to over 750 cinema screens in 26 countries as well as online. Director Mark Ritchie of Southpaw Productions opted for a cinematic look for the unique fashion event and art performance. Director of photography Rick Siegel captured it all on 10 AMIRAs and 4 ALEXA Minis. 

The cameras, which were supplied by AbelCine NY, included a mix of Steadicam and handheld rigs (Minis), tripods, dollies, Tower Cams, and Technocranes (AMIRAs). Ritchie notes, "The AMIRA and Mini are such solid cameras. We easily rigged them onto all the different platforms. It's nice because the accessories are standardized. There are no surprises. I like to stay in the creative world, but I can get hung up when the technical world gets in my way. That doesn't happen with ARRI cameras. It saves time, energy and triage during the day."

I’m very proud to say I've pushed the entire creative and technical workflow to 14 ARRI AMIRAs and ALEXA Minis. It’s been a long time waiting, but ARRI has finally filled the gap for storytellers that work in the live environment who still want to offer a truly cinematic experience to their viewers.

Siegel created a look up table that was loaded into all cameras. HD-SDI feeds went to a switcher for recording, down sampling and multiplexed for web streaming. All cameras also recorded a clean, LOG-C feed internally. The cameras shot at 23.98 with the footage transmitted 59.94 to theaters -- an unprecedented and challenging feat. "We finally found the perfect workflow that allowed us to do the conversion that perfectly interlaced the progressive frames, without artifacts, so it could go to the satellite and then the theater with a pull-down. That has never been done live for," explains Ritchie. 

The director is not new to working under the gun during live events for larger-than-life personalities. "I have to go to the ARRI cameras. There's so much confidence in them over the years, from Madonna to Barbra Streisand – those concerts were shot with up to 14 ALEXA cameras. I've never been bitten with ARRI."

For Ritchie, stunning visuals must go hand-in-hand with peace of mind from the technology. "I'm ready for challenges and curve balls that are thrown my way, but that’s why everything has to be perfect," he explains. "I have to have the mental capacity to focus on the creative challenges of the day and not worry about the camera department. It's a must in that environment -- everything happens so quickly."

He credits Moving Images & Content for giving him the opportunity to play with such a grand canvas. "It's not often I get to dream this big and then get absolute support to execute that vision in today's climate," says Ritchie. "My client Quynh Mai, the owner of MIC, along with producer Kori Shadrick were instrumental in helping push through our creative/camera workflow. Quynh was the corner stone in conveying the importance of the look and feel of this show, in essence a character unto itself."

Ritchie teamed up once again with Corrino Films (headquartered in Amsterdam with offices in Venice, Calif.) to use their proprietary Cinematic View system. He regards Corrino as pioneers in live cinematic story telling and their expertise was paramount in the success of the project. 

"Dreaming big often comes to an abrupt halt once it gets to the execution. From Corrino's producers to engineers, they all understand the importance of my decisions to use specific cameras, lenses, and accessories because they themselves are storytellers and filmmakers. The shoot was technically flawless, except that Kanye broke the internet with it!" he laughs, noting the massive traffic for online viewers. "It was kind of a perfect, creative storm."