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Canon GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old December 7th, 2002, 10:15 AM   #16
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Production Mix

This was mixed live to tape and I ALWAYS ISO each camera for fixes in post. It has always payed off. Tape is too affordable not to back up each camera for later fixes. Since there was no time for a rehearsal, there was a bit of fixin to do in post. I really hated it because it sort of defeated the purpose of the live mix. Also, back in the spring of 2001, the 80 minute tapes weren't widely availble so I had to do the unthinkable and record in LP. I've been forced to do this a couple of other times as well, even with 80s, and have not noticed a significant decrease in quality. This digital tape holds up very well in LP though. The jib that was used was a Jib Lite from Stanton Jimmy Jib.
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Old December 10th, 2002, 10:40 PM   #17
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>>I had to do the unthinkable and record in LP. I've been forced to do this a couple of other times as well, even with 80s, and have not noticed a significant decrease in quality.

There should be NO decrease in quality.

My understanding is that both SP and LP modes record the exact same data in the exact same formats. LP mode just uses narrower spacing, so less margin for error - in a product that is pushing the data densities as it is.

I have also heard that you should not expect to play an LP tape in anything except the original camera it was recorded in. From my own experience, it is the audio that went flaky when I tried playing an LP tape in a different camera.
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Old December 10th, 2002, 11:45 PM   #18
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Hey James ..

Beautiful crane work!! You may have mentioned already but how many cameras did you use, and how did you do the switching?
p.s. the audio is very solid, nice & clean, a very polished mix.
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Old December 11th, 2002, 02:43 PM   #19
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I'm not as sophisticated as most, but I have shot four stage plays with my GL1. I try to attend a rehearsal or two to get an idea on actor's movements, etc.

The first two I used the on-camera mic and was pleasantly surprised, but used my Azden shotgun-camera mounted mic for the third, and the sound wasn't as good.

I've shot two plays at the same place. Their stage was black background and overhead spots. Some scenes fully lit, others much dimmer. I shot in auto mode, no special settings and the footage came out looking pretty good - and transferred to S-VHS with no loss of quality.

I will shot two nights. First night is full stage shot, second night is for as many close ups and two-shots as possible. Then I take both tapes into Premiere and edit. It comes out pretty good!

Add titles, credits, some cheezy muzak (and a shameless, cheap plug for myself at the end), and people have been very happy with the finished product.

I just won't use the Azden shotgun again for stage plays - at least while it's mounted on the camera. I may consider running some tests by suspending it OVER the stage and running a long cable back to the camera and see how that works.

The suggestion to know when to change tapes is a very good one. I just shot a 2.25 hour play last month and it took four separate tapes, because of when I had breaks to change! And one break was only 10 seconds - the GL1 takes longer than that to open and close the motorized tape holder!

Sounds like you have it covered anyway. Good luck.
Mark Moore
Sugar Free Productions
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Old December 11th, 2002, 09:24 PM   #20
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Audio for theater

There have been more than a few discussions on audio recording in some of the forums, but I'm going to sugguest trying a PZM (boundry mic). They can be placed on the stage, if possible, or mounted to a sheet of clear plexiglass (for asthetics sake). You can even tape them on a (back) wall. The wall, floor, or plexi forms a sort of reflector to gather the sound, and although it's not as nifty as a parabolic (NFL style) reflector they can really add a lot to the audio, and you don't have your grips wandering all over the place messin' up the show (NFL style). I'd still try to use some on camera mics as well. Here is another idea; the Tascam DA-38 multitrack recorders are a flat out steal right now. They are eight tracks, and can be rigged out with an MA-AD8 input (or similar). the MA-AD8 gives you eight mic/line inputs all with phantom power and the DA gives about 110 minutes of record time at 48Khz, use that rig with some nice shotguns and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised. They also have a bnc video in port to sync everthing up. If you need to change tapes it's still a pain, but it beats changing every 60-80 minutes. They are still state of the art for most video rigs, they just don't cut it for CD / album work these days. Check eBay for this stuff, these decks were $3k new and about $300 now for a nice one.
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Old December 11th, 2002, 11:47 PM   #21
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About the mics, we used PZMs last year and they sucked. Couldn't hear a single thing out of them. What I want to try to do this year is just have larger, possibly shotgun mics strategically placed on the stage for the choral singers, and all the soloists and actors have wireless UHF headset mics.

All this will get mixed into a 16 or 24-channel mixer the output of which will probably go right into a computer running SoundForge or whatnot.
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Old December 11th, 2002, 11:56 PM   #22
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Cameras & Switcher

I used 4 standard XLs, 3 with stock 16:1 glass, and the Canon 3:1 on the jib. That 3:1 really made that stage look much bigger than it is and it exxagerated the movement through space much better. The live mix was performed with a Panasonic MX-50 4 source switcher.
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Old December 12th, 2002, 08:43 PM   #23
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Seeking advice (warning. . . long post!) :)

I'm eating this information about filming a stage play as if I hadn't eaten . . . well . . . since never.

I own a small company that produces healthcare-focused musical/comedy albums and live shows for healthcare organizations. The ONE thing we have never done was video tape any of our 45 minutes shows. We're going to now. (As soon as I get the GL2!!) At least, we plan on video taping a skit or two so that we have something to give as and "audition video/DVD" to an organization that's thinking about hiring us.

I've only been a part of a filming for a staged play (musical comedy, in this instance) once in my life. Learned a lot from that one dreadful ordeal! Three different video cameras were used during the filming. One would think that there would be a wealth of editing choices for the final video mix-down. Sadly, that wasn't the case. Way too many close-ups. . . on all three cameras. . . at the same time!!! Lots of peripheral action was lost during these close-ups. This was exceptionally sad because most of the "action scenes" were well-choreographed dancing numbers.

I learned two major points from this rather horrific affair:

1) It's important to have some kind of "video director" as well as the "play director". . . and to have the two collaborate to make shure that there is a greater choice of shots available during video mix-down - not just close-ups. . . especially if more than one camera is going to be used.

2) As someone mentioned earlier regarding filming stage plays, shoot lots of medium to far shots so that more action can be recorded.

When it comes time to video taping our happy musical-comedy skits for our "promotional video", I plan on doing my homework beforehand. Strategically plan when and where to have medium or far shots. And plan when and where close-up shots will be most effective. I will, however, have only one camera to work with when we do this project. With the limits of only one camera, I'm not sure about how I could achieve taping close-ups and still maintain a strong sync with the music. The accompanying music is "canned". . . the accompaniment is played from CD to which the performers sing and dance. I think this can work in my favor because the tempo and timing will always remain the same. But still, I'm not sure if it will work. Now mind you, I don't have any of the fancy-smancy syncronization set-ups I know exist. (Hopefully will a bit further down the road.)

Please allow me to tell you my plan of action for taping our first skit. I will then ask you for a critique of my planning and any further comments you may wish to add.

First, I plan on shooting the entire skit containing the planned medium and far shots on one take. This "one take" is including the music (source is from the CD player) and vocals (singers will be wearing lavelier mics). To do this, I will use a very quiet and reliable 16 channel mixer to which I'll mix-down in stereo to the GL2 via the XLR accessory device.

Next, I will shoot the planned close-ups as the performers, again, dance and sing to the "canned" music. However, this time I won't be recording the audio. I will use only the audio from the inital take for the final video mix down.

I'll then take all of the video information and dump it into my computer and edit it using the Vegas Video 3 program. This will include syncing the close-ups to the audio that was taped during the "first take" (hopefully).

Does my plan seem plausable? Will it work? Any suggestions on how to make the edited-in close-ups at the very least SEEM like they are in sync to the music?

Thank you, in advance, for your time and comments.

Regards! :)

Mac Pro (12-core 3.33GHz): OS X 10.11.6; 32 GBs RAM; NVIDIA Quadro K5000; 8 internal SSDs; 2 external Raid set-ups via eSATA; MOTU 2408 MK3; various audio/video programs
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 09:35 PM   #24
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Use multiple cameras if you can

This Spring I shot video for a local high school musical. As I only had one camera at the time (an Optura Pi) I shot over 3 nights. The first night, I locked off the camera and shot everything wide. The second night I did only close ups. The third night I did both.

The problems:
* High School students are not professionals. They didn't do the same show each night and never hit the same marks. Plus unexpected things happened - hats fall off, costumes get changed, actors can be late, musical ques missed...
* The spotlights were not run the same each night.
* Audio was different each night.

So, I had great fun editing. But the video was well received. I actually concentrated on the best audio and went with that first. Then I looked for getting the most action. Close-ups were only used when they were good and there was nothing else going on.

BTW, I shot everything from the back of the house and used an Azden SGM-1x. The had wireless Mics and a sound board, but I think I got better audio by NOT going through the house board.

What I learned:
* I don't like non-pro spot lights for video. It's better to have good stage lighting.
* Shoot on at least one night with two cameras. It helps to know the show so that you can decide ahead of time which camera is going to cover what.
* Even when you THINK you know where they actors will be, this is live theatre, things HAPPEN. Don't think you can lock off a camera and LEAVE it!

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Old December 24th, 2002, 03:06 PM   #25
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I always think I can shoot closeups from the side at dress rehearsal to be edited in later. It's never happened yet. "Oh the lighting isn't set yet! Two of the dancers costumes are not ready yet!" Etc. Etc. Shooting (not just watching, and taking notes, but actually shooting) at dress rehearsal is invaluable.

I have been using the Canon DM-50 hot shoe microphone on my Canon Optura Pi, and have been very pleased. It gives excellent "house sound", very clear, very musical, and a really nice stereo picture. I use the middle, directional, but stereo, setting. I shot an opera and the composer had her studio mics on a pole beside me feeding into a mixer and Tascam recorder. Afterwards she remarked that she like my sound better. Without manual level controls in the little Optura, taking house sound off the board is problematic, getting appropriate levels, etc. This would not be an issue with the GL-2. But one thing to consider, you want laughter and applause too, which you may not get from the house mix.

Separate cameras on the same or different nights can be synced to the CD songs. Good dancers are also quite good at making the same movement at the same place - look for a jump or a sharp arm gesture in both cameras.

I agree that you can not lock a camera and leave it. You might have a wide shot of the center of the stage, but it will probably only be used in emergencies............. (But everything will go perfectly, right?)
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Old December 24th, 2002, 03:09 PM   #26
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16:9 Widescreen

I have shot my last three shows in widescreen 16:9 and love the look. 4:3 puts lots of dead space at top and bottom when filming staged performances.

One thing. You can't center the performers top and bottom in 16:9 like you can in 4:3. The stage "floor" wants to be at the bottom of the frame with lots of headspace above. This makes every zoom also a tilt - something I will have to learn to do.
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Old November 26th, 2003, 06:00 PM   #27
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Demo Theatrical Play

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Old November 27th, 2003, 12:06 AM   #28
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Spotlight mode works pretty well. Had to use it as we used a novice camera person for our last show. In fact the results were very good.

Re: Mics. I use Crown PCC 160s through a small mixer to minidisk. Works very well. Though if you have a PA you're better to record off your main mix. Instead of recording onto DAT though, you should try to get the feed into the camera. Just saves a lot of buggering about afterwards. Remember that the mic input is mic level.

Of course, if you want to record some ambient you can use the on board mic. Switch on the windscreen (avoids motor noise!) and use low rec levels.
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Old November 27th, 2003, 08:46 AM   #29
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I shoot archival video for our operas, and am still learning as I go, but here are a few thoughts on this topic:

I can only work with a single camera here; normally the stagehands union would require their members to operate any video gear, but they make an exception for me. However if we got into a multi-camera setup that would be a whole different thing. So I shoot on several nights, do closeups one night and use the audio from that performance. Then I use longer shots from another performance and try to sync up audio as best as I can.

Working in full manual mode is the only way to go. I shoot at 1/60, iris all the way open much of the time, sometimes with full gain boost. This season I've started working in 16:9 with my PDX-10 and am really happy with the results. I've been deinterlacing to create 30p in post. When viewed on a progressive scan 16:9 LCD screen it looks great.

I've tried both ways, but honestly I just prefer to use the builtin tungsten white balance instead of doing a custom one. I then use the camera's custom preset feature to tweak the image to my liking. It's virtually impossible to get the colors to appear right under all lighting conditions, so I just aim for the best compromise. I play with different settings for WB shift and color level at the first rehearsal I film, then watch on a monitor afterwards and possibly fine tune it the next time.

I think one of the biggest problems to overcome is the harsh nature of stage lighting when captured as DV. As someone with some 30 years experience in theatrical lighting design, video is a whole new world for me. I'm learning that the lighting effects that we like the most in live theatre really don't work for video because the contrast range is just too great. So in a wide shot you can either have a few people that are properly exposed in a bright spot while the whole rest of the picture is completely dark, or you can expose for the darker areas and have a white blob where the highlight is. There really isn't a good solution for this, but what I generally do is underexpose when in doubt, then use color correction to bring up details in the dark areas in post.

If follow spots are used this problem is even worse, unless you're just shooting a closeup of the person in the spotlight. I do two things to try and help a little with the harsh, high contrast nature of stage lighting. First, I turn the sharpness all the way down using my camera's custom preset. Then in post I will often use a diffusion plug in (I uses "Joe's Diffuser" in FCP) which can help to soften things a bit. Experimenting with color correction in post can also help a lot.

For audio I use a feed from the house board on one channel, and my camera's mono mike on the other. In opera we don't use any amplification for the audience, but the stage and pit are miked to provide a stage monitor for backstage areas like dressing rooms. Working with our sound guy I have gotten a pretty good mono mix for this. We tried stereo on one show, but I don't think it was worth the trouble. My PDX-10 has XLR inputs, or if I'm using my VX-2000 I have a Beachtek box.

So for the feed from the house board on channel A I'm using the auto level setting. I've tried using manual but it's just to hard too try and adjust levels, focus, zoom, set exposure, etc all at the same time, and the results are really better on auto. On channel B I'm using the on-camera mono mike with a relatively low manual gain setting which I just leave alone. Now here's a trick that I've learned: during performances I have to shoot from the back of the house which is over 100 feet from the stage. There is a very noticeable delay in the audio from the on-camera mike. The "rule of thumb" is that sound travels about a foot per millisecond, so at this distance the audio from the on-camera mike will be about 1/10 sec behind the audio from the stage mikes. That would be about 3 frames of video. When I edit, I shift the channel B sound forward by 3 frames and it sounds great. This is a good reason to keep your on-camera mike on a separate channel if you're also using a stage feed. Otherwise you will have a rather disconcerting echo when you blend them. When I edit I blend the channels to create a pseudo-stereo image to my liking.

I agree with the earlier comment about zoom controllers. I'm also using a Varizoom Pro-L set to the minimum speed. Now the max zoom on the PDX-10 is 12x, and that will give sort of a waist-up close shot from the back of the theatre. I also have a high quality 2x telephoto converter which I could use, but that seems to bring me a little too close and the lens has limited zoom through so I haven't really used it.

I can't overstate the need for a good tripod if you're shooting from a distance. For a couple years I used a Bogen/Manfrotto 501 head and it's fine if you're close to the stage, but it really doesn't cut it from the back of the theatre. No matter how much I practiced I just couldn't get smooth moves. So I upgraded to a Miller DS-5 and that made a HUGE difference. I think this is really an important factor not to be overlooked if you're shooting at max zoom and want your video to look good. If you can't afford one of the more expensive tripods consider renting or borrowing one if possible.

Like everything else with video, you need to practice, experiment and learn. Just get in there and start shooting as much as you can, view the footage with a critical eye, then go back and shoot some more!
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Old November 27th, 2003, 12:26 PM   #30
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Boyd knows his stuff!

I have been shooting musical theater and dance and my experience matches everything Boyd said in his excellent post.

Boyd mentions that he is often at 1/60, wide open, and full gain up on his PDX-10. If you are shooting a frame mode or progressive mode camera such as my GL-2, try frame mode and 1/30 of a second for your low light situations. The motion signature is very similar to 1/60 and you've gained another stop.

I will try the turn the sharpness all the way down trick. According to the Berube brothers (Canon experts), to capture the most possible dynamic range with the GL-2 turn the setup level all the way up. This will make those deep velvety blacks a muddy gray until you fix it in post, but you will retain the most information on the original tape.

If possible don't get stuck in the back of the house. Getting in closer gives more perspective. The forty-five degree angles from side can be very valuable. They work great for closeups and they compress the stage to let you get crowd scenes in without going to a full wide shot. Try shooting form the front row to one side on one of the shows for closeups. The forty-five degree angles are a good choice for fixed camera setups; a medium shot gets everything on stage except the upstage corner on the side with the camera.

If at all possible get a camera with zebras and expose for the highlights. As Boyd says, better to underexpose and bring up details in post rather than blowing out the highlights (usually the actors faces). You will be surprised how gorgeous your footage looks when you have <<perfect>> exposure.
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