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Old April 6th, 2010, 02:16 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
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Techniques for shooting live music with single camera?

Hey all,

I was shooting a show of a friend of mine with my 7D (17-85mm 4.0 Canon lens), using the ZoomH4N for audio. Each was on its own mic stand/tripod.

As I was shooting, I was really confused about how best to shoot. I could get a shot of the whole stage (which was tiny) to include the singer/guitarist, the bass to her right, and banjo to her left. I could get a shot of her closeup, and extra close up. I could get shots of each of the other musicians, close up as well. I could get the singer and one of the other musicians in the shot, too.

But what I was totally lost about was how to go between all those different shots with ONE CAMERA? I kept panning light to left, left to right. As I zoomed in to get a tight shot, I would start trying to adjust the focus. By then , it would be time to move on, and then I had to zoom out (which my lens does NOT do smoothly- have to see about getting it fixed) and worry about focus all over again.

Usually, the live shows we find on TV/etc. are shot with several cameras so they can just cut into the guitarists fingers during the solo, etc.

Also, I wanted the mic close to her, but far enough to keep it out of my shots- which did not always succeed. So what I wound up with was not strong vocals on my audio, and the mic was sometimes visible when I forgot to keep my eye on it.

I'll have a few more chances to shoot the same show in the same venue. How can I make it better?

I'll try to post a sample soon.

Anya Vaverko is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 6th, 2010, 02:28 PM   #2
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Location: Chicago, IL
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Since it's one camera and you have a chance to shoot it again, have the group wear the same clothes, make sure it's lit the same and this time go for wider shots, maybe even some full width shots. Oh yeah they have to do the same set of music as the first time.

Then the fun begins in post. Load up all the footage, sync it up do a multi track edit process so you can see all the footage in preview at once now you can make a music video. You'll have close up, medium and wide shots to choose from and can eliminate the "fire hosing"-panning the camera from side to side.

Since your audio is already a seperate track and not "connected" to the footage you should be able to put together a pretty good piece of work.

Fortunately you have the optional "reshoot filter"
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 7th, 2010, 01:18 AM   #3
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Watch Muddy Waters performance from Scorsese' The Last Waltz - the film of The Band's final live performance. The concert was staged at Winterland and Scorsese had story boarded the entire 5 hour concert. He hired several experienced DPs as camera operators though so that he could be guaranteed of getting pristine, creative visuals under incredibly difficult circumstances. The evening wore on and guitarist Robbie Robertson, who was a producer on the film, decided to boot Muddy Waters from the bill in favor of Neil Diamond. Scorsese had ordered the camera crew to shut down their cameras as the time slot for Waters' performance came up, but Laszlo Kovacs, frustrated with Scorsese barking non-stop commands,

had removed his head gear and hadn't heard the order. All of sudden, Muddy's on stage and Kovacs is the only one with a loaded camera ready to shoot. Kovacs has got Robbie Robertson, Muddy Waters, Muddy's brilliant guitarist Bob Margolin (keeping a close eye on Robbie who is a foot or two behind him) and Paul Butterfield to cover. He does it and he keeps it hot. It's a good lesson in what to do in an emergency. The entire film has had an impact on how I shoot live music - my favorite thing in the whole world to do. Just keep in mind that Robbie is considered one of the finest rock guitarists in the world, and even so, Kovacs doesn't feel obligated to focus on his work in the least.

Anyway, here is the clip in question. Not entirely germane to your dilemma but food for thought nonetheless. And Don's answer to you was really, really good. :)
YouTube - The Band & Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy(Live)
Lori Starfelt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 9th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
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Thanks..I should have been more clear in explaining that this is not at all set up...or any kind of controlled environment. I do mostly documentary type stuff and it is not by any means a music video.

Here's some links:

Light was a major issue too. What would you have done in post (FCP)?
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