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Old May 8th, 2010, 10:25 PM   #1
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Three camera event video technique. Suggestions?

We have videoed several local events over the past two years and I'd appreciate some suggestions to help make things go smoother.

A cam is on the left , B cam is on the right, and C cam is up in the tech booth. C cam normally gets long shots. It's for A and B cams that I need a suggestion.

We videoed a local school event yesterday with about 250 students on stage together singing and instruments.. What's the best assignment for A cam and B cam? Invariably, as they each pan across the students, they will both get together and video the very same students at the same time. Although they start out on opposite sides, they still seem, unknowingly, to get together. They don't always stay together, but it seems to happen when I need footage of the other students. I do use C cam footage, but it is mostly long shots.

I'm sure there is a simple obvious solution, but I can't see it. Suggestion(s)?

Thanks, Tom B.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 12:17 AM   #2
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Or communicate between the cameras. Cam A tells cam B what he has so he doesn't get the same shot. Even better, get a video feed form each, and have someone watching them, directing the cameras what to shoot.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 06:43 AM   #3
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"A cam is on the left , B cam is on the right, and C cam is up in the tech booth. C cam normally gets long shots. It's for A and B cams that I need a suggestion."

A better solution would be to have B & C at the tech booth next to each other. B picks off close shots & C is your wide cover shot. Cam A moves from center of stage to left or center to right and picks off low angle and audience reaction shots. Cams A & B should NOT be on opposite sides. This "crosses the line" and breaks the 180 degree rule. Go to any televised sporting event or concert and you will see the same setup - they just have more camera's to work with.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 03:47 PM   #4
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Thanks fellows. This introduces techniques I've never considered.

In a recent stage production we noticed that B cam on the right side of the auditorium, shooting across, could get better shots of the faces of the talent on the left side of the stage because the talent was, many times, facing their left. Same idea held true with the A cam, being on the left side of the auditorium, shooting across to talent on the right side of the stage, facing to their right.

In our case, cam in the tech booth is too far away to get close shots. Even on medium shots, the quality drops off a bit compared to the two cams on the floor shooting about 50 feet back from the stage. We are shooting SD.

Thanks again for your good suggestions.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 04:26 PM   #5
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Two at the back and one at stage side does offer plenty of scope, and in fairness, more than two at the front, one at the back. However, for some products, the worst one is better - but for an odd reason. If it's something like a dance show, or other similar production where there are lots of individuals on stage, and the cost of the shoot is being met by DVD sales, then it's essential to get as many closeups and 'busy shots' as you can. If the cameras can communicate, then it's possible to for the left and right to coordinate, but it can still go badly wrong when both cameras lose their subjects near to the wings at the same time. Ballet is a bugger for this. They split and space and it means your single rear camera has to go stage width to get them, until they move forward again. For anything other than cast/family financing, two at the back is much handier. Although I don't do it myself, I see quite a few others simply have one of those crossbars on their tripod, and the two cameras next to each other. One in a wide shot and the other covering closeups. This, plus one stage side on the floor in front does pretty well for a two person, three camera shoot.

The rail systems people are now using allow the classic sideways track over the audience heads from the back. This always looks good, and even though the track length is minimal, the movement works.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 05:58 AM   #6
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Putting cameras on either side of the hall is standard procedure and does NOT cross the line. You would only "cross the line" if one camera was upstage shooting back toward the audience while the other one was in the hall shooting forward (and even that CAN be done on occasions).
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Old May 11th, 2010, 01:05 PM   #7
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Lots of good advice here, and this issue is why we always use four cams. We generally have the two cams up front and to the sides make sure they are shooting in an "X" pattern for just the reasons you describe -- less duplication and those on the opposite side of the stage are more likely to be facing the cam. On the same side of the stage, you tend to get the backs of heads more often than not, particularly in an Orchestra or Choir semicircular setup.

The two cams in the back can be next to each other or, in our case, on opposite sides of the booth. "A" cam is always locked down on the wide shot for the times when all the other cams are moving or otherwise yielding unacceptable shots -- I call it the IdiotCam because that's the one I operate and it's incredibly boring... until you get into post and realize you need that shot. The other rear cam -- "X" Cam -- goes in for tight closeups, slow zooms and pans.

About "Crossing the Line": As Chris correctly noted, The "Line" in this case is the proscenium or front edge of the stage, so having cams in the audience section to either side of the stage doesn't cross it. Having one backstage shooting forward would, but people still do this all the time.

We long for the day when I can just sit in the booth and see all four shots with a quad-split monitor and communicate with all the shooters, but we just don't have the space or money to do that. Yet.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 01:41 PM   #8
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Wow... lots of good suggestions.
This will give me a lot to consider. I appreciate all your comments.

Adam, Never thought to call it an "X" pattern. That's just what we have noticed too.
Thanks fellows.........
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Old May 11th, 2010, 01:58 PM   #9
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As you've probably noticed, different folks have different nomenclature for the differing camera positions. I go clockwise starting at 6pm, with A cam being the wide shot from the rear of the theatre, mostly because that's more of a master shot and I seem to recall that's how they did TV Shows from my Network and Studio days. Then the two up front are B & C, while the right rear cam doing closeups was either D or X --- again a holdover from Hollywood.

Now neither our card recorders nor Premiere let you designate cams with letters, only numbers, so our cam positions have been renamed to 1, 2, 3 and 4. Annoying.

Even after years of doing this for the same people, we still get questions like "Why can't you use only three (or two) cameras?" I used to explain camera and production theory to them, but now I just say we can do that as soon as they remove one wheel from their car and one leg from all their chairs.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 02:35 AM   #10
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If you cut from A to B or B to A, you cross the line IF you aren't "head on" with your shot. If you are shooting cross stage with A and cross stage with B, you absolutely cross the line as the audiences impression of where the stage is in respect to the audience "flips". Can you get away with it? Sometimes but it is TECHNICALLY a faux pas. In order to pull this off as I mention above, you'd "need" to go out to C between cameras A & B.

IF all shots are head on, then yes, cut away with impunity.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 03:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
Not really... If you cut from A to B or B to A, you cross the line IF you aren't "head on" with your shot. If you are shooting cross stage with A and cross stage with B, you absolutely cross the line as the audiences impression of where the stage is in respect to the audience "flips". Can you get away with it? Sometimes but it is TECHNICALLY a faux pas. In order to pull this off as I mention above, you'd "need" to go out to C between cameras A & B.

IF all shots are head on, then yes, cut away with impunity.
I think you're gonna have to draw a diagram 'cos what was described by the OP is NOT "crossing the line", technically or otherwise. It sure ain't a faux pas unless every director of every entertainment show ever broadcast doesn't know the meaning of the phrase.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 03:22 AM   #12
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Certainly in the UK, and I believe it may be the case in the US, broadcast video multi camera studios refer to the cameras with numbers. Film productions refer to the cameras with letters, I assume this is to avoid confusion with all the numbers (scene #, take# etc) that you get marked on clapper boards.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 01:53 PM   #13
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I think you're gonna have to draw a diagram 'cos what was described by the OP is NOT "crossing the line", technically or otherwise. It sure ain't a faux pas unless every director of every entertainment show ever broadcast doesn't know the meaning of the phrase.
FORGIVE the quality of my "diagram"...

If you cut from camera A to camera B as shown in the "diagram", screen direction changes, therefore the cut is TECHNICALLY wrong. Do TDs do this all the time? Sure BUT it is still reversing screen direction, thereby contrary to the 180 "rule" and CAN be distracting to viewers. Less of an issue with stationary performers but live sports or dance, it can be seriously distracting and/or confusing.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 01:55 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
Certainly in the UK, and I believe it may be the case in the US, broadcast video multi camera studios refer to the cameras with numbers. Film productions refer to the cameras with letters, I assume this is to avoid confusion with all the numbers (scene #, take# etc) that you get marked on clapper boards.
North American convention is cameras get numbers and playback gets colours.

ie.
Camera One - "Ready One... TAKE One!"
VTR Green - "Roll Green... TAKE Green!"
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Old May 12th, 2010, 01:58 PM   #15
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The 180 line is now along the stage, not along the actor's eye line. I cut this way all the time, as it's the only way to cut a multicam stage shoot. There's no reason to cut from camera 1 to 3 (or whatever you called it) if there's only one person on the stage. If they're talking to someone else, the actors will cheat out and face one of your cameras. Then you have a regular TV cross shoot.

Shaun, I've been taught that playback gets letters and cameras get numbers. I've never heard of decks getting colors, but that's certainly a possibility.
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