Dragonflies and Astronauts
Dragonflies and Astronauts is a rock theatre production in which the story is told using the Parlotones’ greatest hits.

Andy Stead

Hit South African band the Parlotones are set to make film history this July when their stage act Dragonflies and Astronauts is broadcast live across the globe via satellite in full 3D – the first such broadcast in the world.

The broadcast is the result of an ambitious collaboration between Sovereign Entertainment and Volkswagen South Africa, and will be made from the lavish Teatro at the Montecasino entertainment complex in northern Johannesburg.

The Parlotones, made up of Kahn Morbee, Glen Hodgson, Paul Hodgson and Neil Pauw, are known for breaking creative boundaries with their music videos, making them hugely popular with the South African public.

The partnership will see Volkswagen, a high-volume passenger car manufacturer, the production house and the band set a new standard in creative marketing. Dragonflies and Astronauts is a rock theatre production in which the story is told using the Parlotones’ greatest hits. The show will run from the 13 to 17 July, with the global broadcast taking place on 16 July. Local fans will be able to watch the performance live in 3D in 14 Nu Metro cinemas across South Africa.

International fans will be able to see the live 3D production on various platforms which are currently being negotiated by co-executive producer Doug Stanley, CEO of Ridgeline Entertainment. With two decades of primetime production, Ridgeline has been honoured with six Primetime Emmy Award nominations and recently won the 2008 Primetime Emmy Award for his work on Discovery Channel’s hit show Deadliest Catch.

Stanley has an interesting history in 3D. During the late 1990s he was general manager of C-3D Television, an early stereoscopic 3D network. As executive producer, he supervised the creation of original 3D television shows, promos and other content including network identity, all in 3D. This programming was broadcast initially in C-band, but later in KU-band transmitting via the GE-3 satellite. Through this period he travelled and studied 3D in Japan, Korea, China and Canada.

“I feel fortunate to have gained much of my education from 3D greats such as John Rupkalvis and Paul Taylor as well as from other significant 3D pioneers” he says.

Eban Olivier and Danie van der Heever of Catalyst Entertainment are the creative minds behind the Parlotones production. The team were responsible for the show design of the ground-breaking Parlotones Live at the Coca Cola Dome as well as Sony 3D Worldwide the global launch of Sony’s 3D technology worldwide.

“We had to get promo material out to the world press release on 1 March 2011 and to do a world press conference in 2D for a 3D show would have been, well, weird,” says Olivier. “We decided to test a rig of a good friend of ours, Russ Bowden, owner of 3D-Rigs.com, with gear from Panavision SA to see how the specific rig would handle for the live show and if the standards conversion for cinema and world signal distribution would hold up to international features standard – which it did.”

The Red Camera was used as it was considered to be the best quality for the studio shoot that Olivier had in mind.

“We shot the promo on 25 February at Panavision Studios and it was ready in cinema on the 27th for the first 3D viewing with client. (We were shocked at how much we have learned from doing the Sony 3D Experience with Fifa last year.) It was again a pre-production rule we always apply – do as much as you can in pre-production so that there are no surprises in the execution of the actual shoot.

“The role that Panavision SA played to make this happen and the production management from my producer made this a walk in the park. There is so much top-end involvement in this production that we are confident that failure will be minimised. We are using Mushroom Productions for logistics and stage management for the promo and show. They have over 20 years behind them touring the biggest acts in the world.

“All my illustrations are being hosted by ArtSquad and their super-creative illustrators. The shooting process was more a teaser to introduce part of what people can expect live in the theatre and cinema/TV (3D), so we incorporated some of the characters – and of course the Parlotones, with their energetic performance.

“A live rock concert in 3D does get boring after 40 minutes (and we have already done it in 3D with the Parlotones at the Sony 3D Experience for a live audience while the band performed on screen in 3D) so we decided to go all-out and do a theatre production.

“The element that you can bring into a theatre production is so much more diverse and is 3D-friendly. It will be more like you are a part of the action on the stage then sitting in the audience. That is what we want to achieve. In saying this – we are catering for a live show and a live 3D audience all at the same time while going out live to the world in 3D.”

Dragonflies and Astronauts will be in production for the next four months and the live transmission in cinemas and on 3D TV will be on 16 July. If the short 3D viewing at Montecasino during the press launch is anything to go by, this is an event not to be missed.