KFVE to provide unparalleled visual, audio experience

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Arelative few are fortunate enough to snag coveted stadium seats to witness in person the Merrie Monarch Festival’s three-night hula competition at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium.


Arelative few are fortunate enough to snag coveted stadium seats to witness in person the Merrie Monarch Festival’s three-night hula competition at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium.

Fortunately, KFVE-TV (K5) broadcasts all three nights — Miss Aloha Hula on Thursday, hula kahiko (ancient hula) on Friday and hula ‘auana (modern hula) plus the awards ceremony on Saturday. The live telecast starts at 6 p.m. each day and ends when the evening’s activities are pau. For those unable to catch the live telecast or record it, not to worry.

“We repeat the previous day’s performances the following day starting at 11 a.m.,” said John Fink, KFVE general manager. “So the Miss Aloha Hula will be re-aired on Friday at 11 a.m., hula kahiko will re-air Saturday at 11 a.m., and hula ‘auana will re-air Sunday at 11 a.m., including the awards ceremony.”

The hosts are Billy V. and Amy Kalili, with kumu hula Manu Boyd’s expert commentary, plus Kimo Kahoano as the in-house stage announcer and Keahi Tucker as backstage and roving interviewer.

In addition, the competition sometimes referred to as the “Super Bowl of Hula” also is streamed live online. K5 also will stream its “Backstage at the Merrie Monarch” program, which airs from 8-9 p.m. Wednesday and features the festival’s free Ho‘ike exhibition, live online, Fink said.

“It’s only an hour, but we always get a lot of emails from people who watch, especially from the mainland and foreign countries. It’s a backstage show. We don’t do the whole ho‘ike, obviously. We do show interviews and some stage performances,” he said.

Producer David Kalama said putting on the statewide live telecast is a massive undertaking, which includes 54 people on-site, “14 of them Big Island residents.” That includes 15 people inside the truck, which is a mobile control room, another outside in a trailer editing and on-air and technical people inside the arena.

Kalama said director Roland Yamamoto will take in stadium rehearsals starting Monday to map the best shot angles for the performances later in the week. Technological improvements in recent years include increasing the cameras from five to seven in the arena, plus enhancement of the sound quality.

“All the music performances that come from the stage, we have that mixed by a separate company,” he said. “They’re not TV guys; they’re professional stage sound people. They send that to the TV truck and we add our announcers and some embellishment. We may be the only live TV production in the state of Hawaii that does that.”

According to Kalama, the goal is to afford viewers an audio experience as close as possible to stage-side.

“There will be six groups out of 29 using the ‘ulu‘uli, that’s the (gourd) rattles. That’s a lot. It really makes a difference with sound,” he said. “We use shotgun microphones all around the stage, every corner to capture the sound of all the implements that they use, the swish of the la‘i (ti leaf) skirts, all of that. It makes the sound all much more interesting when they use implements. Some years, there’s a lot of implements; some years, they hardly use any. And two of them are using ‘ili‘ili, the rocks. One is using sticks, kala‘au. The six that are using ‘uli‘uli, they’re all making their own.”

Another improvement won’t be noticed by live television viewers, but should be appreciated by those who buy Blu-ray discs of the festival’s performances.

“We are looking to improve our recording format,” he said. “We’re going up a step this year and the following year, we’re going up another step. … It’s going to take us five years because it’s pretty expensive, each bump up. We’re ahead of the curve. Our recording quality is beyond the transmission-capable quality, so that the masters we have are higher quality than what you can see on TV, for future reference.”

For those seeking to relive classic Merrie Monarch moments or get an early start on Merrie Monarch binge viewing, K5 will air “Best of the Merrie Monarch 2015” at 7 p.m. today, followed by “Best of the Merrie Monarch 2016” at 8 p.m.

“This is a very special cultural performance that truly resonates with people all over the world,” Fink said. “I’m always happy to get the emails I get from people all over the mainland and Europe every year saying, ‘You don’t know how much we look forward to this every year. Thank you for presenting it.’”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

K5 Merrie Monarch schedule

7-8 p.m. today: “Best of Merrie Monarch 2015”

8-9 p.m. today: “Best of Merrie Monarch 2016”

8-9 p.m. Wednesday: “Backstage at the Merrie Monarch” (Ho‘ike)

6 p.m.-pau Thursday: Miss Aloha Hula competition (live)

11 a.m.-pau Friday: Miss Aloha Hula competition (rerun)

6 p.m.-pau Friday: Hula Kahiko competition (live)

11 a.m.-pau Saturday: Hula Kahiko competition (rerun)

6 p.m.-pau Saturday: Hula ‘Auana competition/awards ceremony (live)


11 a.m.-pau April 23: Hula ‘Auana competition/awards ceremony (rerun)

8-9 p.m. April 30: “Best of Merrie Monarch 2017”

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