Just watched the Herbert von Karajan Memorial Concert on Blu-ray.
It's nice when you have 11 video cameras and a wraparound platform that is mere feet from the orchestra to shoot from. That is the good thing about this video.
Now for my technical comments:
The video looked like decent 720P, upsampled to 1080P. Colors were icy, cold and skin tones looked a bit lifeless. The picture looked like video--lacked the organicness of film, trying to make up for the lack of real resolution with electronic edge sharpening which left halos around the sheet music and really showed up on the wide shots. Close-ups looked acceptable because there wasn't much fine detail.
Many camera angles, and platforms on dollies that allowed horizontal and vertical movement made the viewing interesting, however.
For all the expensive monitors (I know those HD monitors they use are at least $14K a piece), the camera operator behind conductor Seiji Ozawa seemed to take a long time to hunt for focus, often showing us badly out of focus images of Anne-Sophie Mutter's left hand. He also tried to go in too close and couldn't follow the movements of her violin, leaving us with an out of focus background some of the time.
Now for the audio:
First impression hit me when the applause was heard at the beginning: it was harsh, muddled and lacking in detail--I could not discern indivual clapping. The sound also had pitch to it, like it was going through a passband filter.
When Beethoven's Violin Concerto began, the pianissimo parts were too loud--it was obvious that gain riding and compression were heavily in use.
I found the audio lacking in real fine detail. It had medium fine detail that was overenhanced, much like the video picture, but was lacking in the real fine detail that tells me I'm really IN the concert hall. There seemed to be a lack especially of the very high end of the highs.. I could not hear the rosin on the violin strings--it was just not there.
When we got to the Tchaikovsky Symphony No 6, the compression was devastating--the percussion was just cacophony--it was fatiguing to listen to this recording.
The sound stage was flat, dimensionless. There was no sense of front to back depth. The sound was as flat as my screen. At times, I thought I was hearing monaural and not even the PCM stereo that the player said was the track I was hearing. Mary Ann noticed it, too.
The frequency response was uneven, like a comb filter.
When a wide shot came up, I could see what my ears were telling me was wrong:
This recording suffers from the 'too many mics syndrome'. And the mics were in the wrong places. Overheads were directly OVER the orchestra. This isn't Mercury Living Presence and it isn't 1955, recording a mono 78 rpm record!
Making matters worse, there were at least six hanging mics, plus a mic over the soloist, and.. there were a combination of ribbon mics and small Schoeps condensers throughout the orchestra in amoungst the seats! When this all mixed down, it produced comb filtering effects as the overlapping sounds from adjacent mikes mixes and interacts at wavelengths of the sound frequencies, sometimes adding, sometimes subtracting.
Placing mikes in the orchestra eliminates the time arrival cues we need to sense distance of the instruments relative to us, which is why this recording sounded sterile, lifeless and flat with no depth.
I'd wager the cost of making this recording ventured close to six figures, between the $2,000,000 worth of 11 Sony broadcast cameras from ten years ago, even though this was recorded Jan 2008. The lenses were $60K a piece on those cameras, and they were very good, but the imagers were not full raster and wide shots broke down, looking more like standard def or a little better, not HD.
All I could think of while watching this was, "If I could have had ten XDCams, my mic setup and my crew there in Berlin, I could have made this a REALLY great concert video with audio to satisfy the pickiest of audiophiles, like Peter Aczel. It's a shame I no longer fly on commercial planes, because this production crew didn't do the concert justice.