#AnthemChallengeRSA: 1000 South Africans celebrate unity in diversity

At the end of March – and the start of #LockdownSA – a group of over 50 of South Africa’s most talented performing artists came together – virtually – to perform our national anthem as part of the #AnthemChallengeRSA initiative. Each of the artists recorded their proud rendition individually at home. The recordings were collated into a single video and shared across social media with an invitation to all South Africans: JOIN US!

The nation was challenged to submit videos of themselves performing our anthem; the result is a 1 000+ piece virtual choir of South Africans from every walk of life performing together in a show of true unity before President Cyril Ramaphosa begins the process of reducing the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.  

“The process of receiving all the video submissions was both exhilarating and emotional,” says James Bassingthwaighte, part of the #AnthemChallengeRSA creative team. “It took a significant amount of bravery to put yourself on the spot and sing an anthem in five different languages to a video camera and more than a thousand ordinary South Africans rose to the challenge!  We easily managed to fill the 1 000 slots we were hoping to achieve and are actually still receiving submissions, even though the deadline has passed!

“The variety of submissions was extraordinary. We had families, groups of friends, choirs, recorder players and entire orchestras stepping up to join us! It really was amazing to see the ingenuity and the support that this project attracted from South Africans under lockdown.”

“One Thousand South Africans Perform Our Anthem” was released last night (Sunday) on YouTube and is a once-in-a-lifetime choral tapestry led by well-known South Africans including Busiswa, ProVerb, Leah, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Andre Schwartz, Donald, Katlego Maboe, Zolani Mahola, Tumi Morake, Khaya Dladla, Danny K, Relebogile Mabotja, Caroline Grace, Moonchild Sanelly, Willem Botha, KB and others. In the video, the 1000 strong virtual choir appears on screen, slowly but surely revealing a striking image of our national flag in full furl.

Also read: AnthemChallengeRSA captures the attention of African media

“This started as a small group of artists wanting to do something heartfelt and authentic at the start of the lockdown. It grew into something much bigger – a national and historic moment of hope that we will be able to look back on with immense pride,” says Bassingthwaighte. “This was never planned as a  ‘Freedom Day release’, but what could be more appropriate than reflecting on the anthem to honour our civil liberties –  and particularly in 2020 as we look forward to the Covid-19 lockdown being eased?”

Contributing artists, in alphabetical order:

  • Afrikanswiss
  • Andre Schwartz
  • Anslin Gysman
  • Bianca Le Grange
  • Brian Temba
  • Busiswa
  • Caroline Grace
  • Chad Saaiman
  • Chris Forrest
  • Corlea
  • Craig Lucas
  • Daniel Baron
  • Danny K
  • David Johnson
  • Donald
  • Dumza Maswana
  • Glen Hodgson
  • Gloria Bosman
  • Graeme Watkins
  • Jason Greer
  • Joe Nina
  • Jules (GoodLuck)
  • Katlego Maboe
  • KB
  • Khaya Dladla
  • Kurt Darren
  • Leah
  • Lee Scott
  • Liesl Penniken
  • Likhey Booi
  • Mma Ausi
  • Moonchild Sanelly
  • Mpho Osei-Tutu
  • Nathan Ro
  • Phinda Matlala
  • Phindile Morgets
  • Pierre Greeff (Die Heuwels Fantasties)
  • Proverb
  • Relebogile Mabotja
  • Sam Peo
  • Sandile Kamle
  • Sibongile Mngoma
  • Siziwe Ngema
  • Tamara Dey
  • The Muses
  • Timothy Moloi
  • Tracey-Lee Oliver
  • Tumi Morake
  • Willem Botha
  • Yvonne Chaka Chaka
  • Zoë Modiga
  • Zolani Mahola

Here’s a glimpse into the technical side of how the video was made:

Firstly, the numbers…

1027 Videos @ 400×400
90 Columns @ 400x 5200
6 3/4 Panels @ 5200 x 5200
1 Canvas @ 15600 x 10400
1 FINAL canvas with some late additional columns @18000 x 10400

7TB of project space

And all of this over Dropbox, Videocalls and Teamviewer!

Not bad for a 2 minute video

Here’s the technical explanation from Peter Heaney at 9mm Films, who put the video together:

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! This has been a monster effort, but as always it’s been a great learning curve and we’ve come up with some neat solutions and streamlined processes along the way.

In the end, the way we got it done fastest was to start slowly and methodically with the videos themselves. One always feels there must be a shortcut but ultimately the shortcut was to make sure we’d taken the time to format and time each and every video correctly to begin with and everything flowed from there. Starting with the right materials means a smoother process in the long run I guess. 

It also became clear that a phased approach to renders was the only way the systems would manage.

To start, the amazing folks at Thatch Audio ingested the source videos into their mix software and synced it up. They then adjusted and exported to us so that we all had a common starting point and duration (1000 people singing in unison!)

James from Thatch then allocated exactly where in our final composition each person would go and the videos were given a unique file name to correspond with their position on that grid.

PS – spot the CN&CO team mates who submitted their versions – we are grouped together…

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