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Drum Corps on the Big Screen Again in 2018: Behind the Scenes of DCI’s Movie Theater Broadcasts

Mike Lawson • Percussion • July 16, 2018

Just as for the tour premiere on June 21 from Ford Field in Detroit, when Drum Corps International goes live from Lucas Oil Stadium in August, audiences in movie theaters across the country have one of the best seats in the house for the DCI World Championships.

Twice each season, DCI invades theaters nationwide to let fans feel the thrill of marching music’s very best – as it happens in real time.

To share DCI’s exceptional experience with the world accurately, the producers assemble a vast array of components to make the shows reality – the broadcast truck, the video and production equipment, the team of production experts, the monitors, and more.

Beginning with the opening night broadcast in June, members of the live broadcast team travel around the country to watch the corps, talk to the staff members, learn the flow of their productions, understand the creative goals, and determine the best shot angles to depict the many moving parts in each show. Then, for the World Championships broadcast, it becomes a matter of scripting the production to combine all the intricacies and nuances to simulcast the competition to the movie theaters.

The production staff gets the cameras exactly where they need to be in order to convey what the corps designers want to show the audience. Everything breaks down by time throughout the individual shows – soloists, sections, flags, weapons, props, distinctive features – and the locations on the field for each element.

When the day of the DCI World Championship prelims finally arrives, the team works to showcase the 15 top-scoring corps. The elite competition hits the movie screens at more than 600 theaters all over the United States, and it’s show time.

In the control room, the production team sits in front of mixing consoles, video switchers, and other digital equipment with walls of monitors, working from pages and pages of notes on each show. The broadcast director and assistant directors call the camera shots with phrases such as “Camera 2: right 45 snares” and “Camera 4: rifles and sabres on the left side” – all while anticipating what’s coming in the next five to 10 seconds. What’s more, the camera operators have monitors in each ear with feeds coming from different directors in each ear simultaneously to get the very best shot combinations possible.

Think of it as controlled chaos. – but they are all talking to each other, everybody knows exactly what they’re doing, where to go, when to go there, and how long to stay on that angle. To the casual viewer, it all appears seamlessly on the screen – almost like magic.

But it’s far from magic. Capturing the sound and motion – in a football stadium, no less – is a challenging proposition. Added to that is the fact the whole thing is live, meaning anything can (and probably will) happen. So, the broadcasters must think of virtually everything in advance to keep the whole thing running smoothly.

What might seem like chaos is really an unbelievable orchestration of a tremendously talented team of professionals working tirelessly to create an incredible product year after year. It’s the best of the best in the broadcast industry bringing the best of Drum Corps

International to fans everywhere. When the last corps leaves the field after many hours of live coverage, it’s “Ready to say good night. Fade to black in 3, 2, 1. And we’re done!”

You can see how all of this works together behind-the-scenes at bit.ly/2KdZtXk. It’s truly amazing to see how it all comes together.

If you got to see the tour premiere in June, then you know what’s in store. If you didn’t, then join in seeing the best of Marching Music’s Major League during the World Championship prelims when Big, Loud & Live comes to a theater near you from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Thursday, August 9 starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. Get your tickets now via DCI.org/cinema.

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