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Old April 12th, 2013, 02:54 PM   #1
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A Whole Slew of Vixias

Hi everybody, I'm working on nailing down an international documentary job that would have to do with following a choir through Europe over a couple of weeks. A docu-travel-musical if you will. While I would use the C100 for the majority of the docu footage, a dozen or so concerts are of course a major part of the trip. That being said, good looking mulitcam footage is a must. A team of two would be going, so I was thinking of renting/buying a half-dozen small camcorders for fixed shots (wide, conductor, audience, left, right) and then having the two operators working on close ups, soloists, etc with the bigger cameras.

Can anyone point me in the direction of some Vixia G10/G20/G30 footage of a concert of some sort? I imagine most of these locations will be lit to an extent, just wondering if it will be good enough for Blu-Ray distribution and potential PBS broadcast, or if I need to think about another option. I don't think there is the budget to hire local crews for each of the concerts, which would be the best option of course.

I'm not completely locked into just the Vixias, though staying in the family with Canon might be convenient. Any comments on other brands or other ideas are appreciated.
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Old April 13th, 2013, 07:47 AM   #2
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Indoor concerts. I suspect that lighting will be problematic at best.

What is your budget? The G20 might have the best results anong the Vixia line and some resale value if you do not intend to keep them after the trip. I have no footage to which to point, but I suspect the early buyers have posted results, if not here, elsewhere. A google search may turn some up.

Given the variability of skill levels and uncontrolled (by you) conditions for many shots posted to the Web, I would suggest that once you narrow it down to a couple camcorders of potential interest beg, borrow, or rent one and give it a try to see how you can set it up under tour-like conditions, and how well the resulting footage integrates with your C100 footage.
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Old April 13th, 2013, 02:28 PM   #3
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

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Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
Indoor concerts. I suspect that lighting will be problematic at best.
Yeah. I always expect this. I do think the bigger venues will be stage lit, but from what I've seen the high end vixia line is sharp and quite clean even with some gain applied. The real question here is there a better option than high end handycams? I own an older Vixia M40 and am pretty happy with what it shoots when I use it. Budget is flexible, I don't mind buying them up front, though I'm not sure if renting or buying would be the most economical choice. Perhaps some DVinfo users would be interested in snapping them up afterwards.

The only thing I worry about is zoom range. I imagine placing the C100 in the back for the sharpest wide, which will also "hide" the look of the EOS camera versus the others. But what of the two manned roving cams? Is there something that will match up with the vixias while maintaining more than a 10x zoom? Teleconverter perhaps? Even the XF100s only have the 10x, and the new models aren't released until June - unless someone knows a great dealer that could make it happen. XF300s are too big/expensive I think.

The other thing I wanted to ask the forum is about 50/60hz. I plan on shooting 24p at 60hz for US viewing, is the 50hz system in Scandinavia going to pose a problem? I imagine the concerts will all be tungsten lit.
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Old April 14th, 2013, 07:41 PM   #4
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

The just announced G30 and XA20 and XA25 have 20X zoom.
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Old April 14th, 2013, 10:39 PM   #5
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

The new models would be great, but we'd be slated to leave by the end of May. I'm not sure if I could get my hands on one before that. I also went to National Camera last weekend and took a look at the G20 and a high end Sony. I much prefer the picture and menu system operation of the Canon.
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Old April 14th, 2013, 10:55 PM   #6
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Nate, I think your bigger problem will be the sound of the choir in action, how are you going to record them?
A boomed shotgun could cover the interviews but the singing?

How many in the choir, is it usually 4 part harmony?

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Old April 15th, 2013, 06:47 AM   #7
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Sound would be best recorded separately with a dedicate sound recorder rather than an ad hoc mix of consumer camcorders. And depending on the size of the ensemble could present an interesting challenge while on the road. WIll any of the venue's be recording the performances or using a mixer that could be a source of potentially quality sound?
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Old April 15th, 2013, 11:20 AM   #8
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Absolutely audio is a priority! That's kind of the point of the whole thing, isn't it. Not to worry though, I've been thinking of that too, working with the guys that do all the recordings for NPR and such. I expect some of the bigger venues to have systems we can implement, but I'll also have a separate dedicated portable system to set up when needed. They don't all need to be absolutely perfect recordings, I don't think thats reasonable considering the range of venues. If a segment doesn't turn out, we just use another night's performance. Also thinking I'll have a lav or two attached to those who do the introductions to the pieces, etc. I wouldn't be using the Vixia cams for sound, heavens no! :)

Are there any dealers on the forum who could get possibly get me an advance order on at least one or two of the G30s? Be nice to have that zoom.
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Old April 15th, 2013, 11:28 AM   #9
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Maybe record the actual full pieces in a controlled environment. Then at the live events record ambient audience noise, introductions, announcements, etc, and mix in the good sound recording with video where needed in post.
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Old April 15th, 2013, 11:59 AM   #10
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Interesting idea Don. I'm sure we could do that afterwords if we needed to. I just wouldn't want it to be a nightmare trying to match up a song that's 1 or 2% faster or slower.
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Old April 15th, 2013, 08:54 PM   #11
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Nate, asap consult with the choir masters and tour arrangers, and tell 'em what you intend to do. They may have experience with all this
and can offer some suggestions, including programs of what they intend to sing, CDs and DVDs of their performances etc.
Then you can see and hear what they sound like.

Maybe contact those producers and ask, how did they record the choir, and importantly, whether you can use a track or two, to sync your video to.
That's entirely possible, there are cut away techniques etc. You could research that before you go ..

Syncing live performance to studio performance

If you can plan to do this, it'll take serious pressure off at the venues and you can concentrate on the cameras, making sure you don't block any other
pro videos, news guys etc.

Also, if you plan to use one song from a dozen concerts and they average 3 mins each, that's 36 minutes of 'singing' and given they sing the same program, then they'll need to perform more than 12 songs, so you have a choice and you don't have to show the same song twice. Work on that.

By the time you add interviews, the choir enjoying themselves, beauty shots of the 12 cities etc. I'd say you're looking at about 70-80 minutes .. that's too long. I'd plan to cut away from some songs and show video appropriate to either the song or the city you're in. Maybe do a compilation of some songs and cities, fading in/out good applause fx between them. So record good live applause wherever you can.

And my experience says the choir will expect great sound, after they've gone to all the trouble of setting up the tour, and especially if it's 4 part harmony. Yep the sound is more of a problem than the video.

Recording (about) a dozen concerts in 2 weeks in Europe is a big deal, especially if you haven't done it before. But it's a challenge and thriving on it,
will make it all possible.

Cheers.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 07:15 AM   #12
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Quote:
I just wouldn't want it to be a nightmare trying to match up a song that's 1 or 2% faster or slower
While the total time of a piece may differ by a couple percent from one live performance to the next, over short periods of time it should not drift much in terms of number of frames of video. If you do not hold long shots of a single scene but include different camera angles and close ups as well as cut-aways you can keep it close enough for all practical purposes. Just do not let the sound get ahead of the video. In real life a person sitting 100' from the performer hears the sound about 0.1 seconds after they see it made.

The performance segments of your product most likely are intended to be are all about the music - the image is a plus to go with it (better than dancing lights a-la some media players). So lay down your sound track first and then cut in video to complete the story. It does take a bit more time and patience but worth it if this is a labor of love - or an understanding client if this is a paid gig.
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Old April 29th, 2013, 09:01 PM   #13
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Some more backstory:

I am actually being hired on by the organization itself, so I have full access to pretty much anything I need beforehand or afterwards, including the assistance of their audio recording team. I'm thinking that doing sit-down interviews after the fact will be simpler and more "reflective" for those involved. All concerts will be the same, and run approximately 2 hours, so we will be picking and choosing the pieces I think are best.

More developments:

In addition to the part I am producing, the organization I'm working for is paying to have a television crew out of London record a full concert in a cathedral at the end of the tour. Jibs, broadcast lenses, lighting - the whole nine yards. I will have access to this content in it's entirety to implement as I see fit - in all it's 60i interlaced glory...

I'm starting to like the idea of using the post-recorded audio from that performance throughout, for consistency's sake. I'm comfortable time stretching clips to match them up if needed. I also think that placing b-roll over portions of the songs would be nice. The concert recording will be available in its entirety (probably even on the same DVD/BluRay), so my project is a chance to do something different. Total running time is negotiable as well.

At this point, I'm scripting the trip out and deciding on which pieces to use at the various locations. I would like to use portions of the video from all 12 different performance venues, so deciding on 2 or 3 pieces to really focus on at each stop will be important to stem the insanity and fatigue of getting everything perfect for something we're not going to use.

I purchased a G20 off ebay this week and tested it out today. I was quite impressed with the results, even with the 2x digital extender. I think that shooting the concerts with 4 camera will be sufficient for our needs - as I plan on cutting away to B-roll during some of the songs to break it up - and to capture ECU shots during warm ups... My plan is one unmanned master camera in the back, two operated cameras in the wings, and the fourth an unmanned pointing back at the director from behind the choir somewhere.

Right now, I will be bringing a C100, EOS 7D, a 70-200mm F2.8, a 70-200mm F4, a 1.4x or 2x extender, and at least two Vixia G20s. I'm hoping the F4 will be sufficient on the 7D when shooting a lit choir, and that I can use the 1.4x or 2x extender on the C100 at higher gain levels. The reason I would possibly put the C100 in the back is that the wider shot would have more detail and a greater dynamic range. Can the Vixia cut it for a locked down wide? I'm optimistic but need to find a concert to go test it out on. If we need to move up to XF300s, so be it, but I'd rather not double the amount of gear if I can help it.

The question is which of the following setups works best? Vixia G20 in the back and C100/7D in the wings, or C100 in the back and two Vixia G20s in the wings?
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Old April 29th, 2013, 11:53 PM   #14
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Nate, lighting at the various venues will vary like anything, and that will have a big bearing on where you place all your cameras.
So work out the low light capabilites of each one, in descending order.

I'd be prepared to video everything you possibly can, some will be ok some not .. and a couple might be impossible. And you can't go back.

To have a sync point in post, just after you start all your cameras, stand in a spot where they can all 'see' you and set off a stills camera flash.
That's your sync point for all your cams footage in post, if you don't have that, believe me it'll be a nightmare. I've watched someone trying
to find a start sync for multi footage in post .. with the client there. After 30 mins, he just walked out.

You might have to 'flash' this a tad in advance of each concert so work out how much storage you're going to need and triple it.
Add 50% to your stock of batteries, and take multiple chargers.

Write yourself a 'complete setup checklist' so when time is critical you don't miss anything.

Cheers.
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Last edited by Allan Black; April 30th, 2013 at 05:31 PM. Reason: post syncing.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 06:30 AM   #15
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Re: A Whole Slew of Vixias

Quote:
I'm thinking that doing sit-down interviews after the fact will be simpler and more "reflective" for those involved.
Before the tour interviews to capture expectations, and then contrast with after the tour migh prove interesting as well.

You wrote 60i shooting in the UK. Worth varifying given that 50i is the PAL standard.

Small camcorders like the GoPro might provide some interesting POV shots from within the group and not be intrusive.
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