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Old April 8th, 2007, 10:19 PM   #1
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avoiding boredom from a single cam live performance shoot?

any suggestion for things I can possibly do to avoid a completely boring video from a single camera shoot? This is a live performance, in an auditorium setting ... probably some opening comments, then a choir performance, then some readings from a podium (5 different speakers), then a closing. I'll probably be somewhere towards the back of the auditorium, on a tripod. (A1, 20x lens).

The material itself will be interesting, but I am scratching my head on anything I can do so it won't be so boring to watch. For now, we should assume that a second cam is not possible. (I could set up a second SD minidv cam, but as I will be shooting in HD, perhaps 16x9, I'm not sure if I feel like cutting in shots from a SD 4:3, or possibly doing the whole project in SD 4:3 just to satisfy the small cam; also, let's leave off the possibility of renting a second cam or hiring another cam/operator as this is not paid).

I was thinking that if there are breaks in the continuity, I could zoom in a bit, then later edit out the zoom and do cross fades or jump cuts between the wide shots and the mid or close ups, and the same in reverse.

Perhpas there are other techniques I could use that might help me make this even a little interesting to watch.

Any suggestions?
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Old April 8th, 2007, 10:51 PM   #2
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So Dave, what will your final output be ? Will it be DVD? If so, its eventually going to be SD, right ?, so why not shoot the SD camera from a second position, even if it is 4:3. In your edit you could either leave it 4:3 inside the a DV 16:9 or crop and stretch it to fit.

If the final is HD, then, you might have to consider having the SD footage superimposed on the timeline, maybe by shrinking the main shot and then windowing the second shot to run it together with the main shot, or maybe stick some still shots grabbed or B roll taken ealier show audience, etc.. in in another window simultaneously....

Just some suggestions..
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old April 8th, 2007, 11:12 PM   #3
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Is there a reason you can't make your zooms visually pleasing? Especially for the choral part, creeping in nice and slow won't look too bad. Once you're close up you can float around a little bit. Then you can zoom out nice and slow to your wide.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 11:14 PM   #4
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This is what I would do. I'd use both cams. The HD footage would be the main footage and I would insert the SD footage in windows on top of the main footage (like Chris said) to show another angle of the action. You could be pretty creative there...

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Old April 8th, 2007, 11:31 PM   #5
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Hmmm... You could always use the mini-DV as a ultra-wide shot, positioned from the back of the hall and put yourself and the A1 a lot closer to the stage...

I'm going to look up some old videos of the Eurovision Song Contest where, I think it was 1973, they made excellent use to cover the whole event with only two-three cameras. Maybe you can get some ideas from there.

This one is from 1970. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2z-fGSbSjE
Here is the 1972 winner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk0BJ_RwdCA
And this is from 1973. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHZVOFe6e2w
sorry for the somewhat cheesy music.

Other options are using a camera crane (actually, highly recommended, you can make one yourself) or even asking friends if they can lend you their videocamera. Which you then can set up on a balcony near the stage, giving you an excellent (third) view.

Finally, I wouldn't shoot this in 16x9 or HDV at all! This is not paid, so anything you can do to make things easier on you, is really the way forward. You'll still have the superior image from the lense of your HD-cam, it'll just be easier to mix it with another cam.

EDIT: And maybe afterwards, you could look up some pictures/footage that matches the content of the songs and use that too...
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Old April 9th, 2007, 06:00 AM   #6
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If your final product is SD, you could use the "Steven Gotz method" (may we call it this, Steven?) importing your HD clip into an SD project and pan/scan/zoom all you want. It will definitely create the impression you used multiple cameras.
Ervin Farkas, CDVS
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Old April 9th, 2007, 09:52 AM   #7
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wow, the responsiveness, creativity and willingness to help of the people on this board never ceases to amaze me, ever. every single time. incredible.

these are great ideas so far. and I liked those 70's videos - useful to see.. I'll need to remember to get some nice close shots, even if I'm far back...

- delivery will be on (SD) DVD for now. this event will be one that gets preserved for future generations to see, which is why I want to capture it in HD (it'll have a mix of 3 generations in the video). I have to give the workflow some thought - would like to try to downrez from the cam for now (easier), but maybe I'll edit in HD and then produce both the HD and SD versions now so that I all I have to do later is reauthor. not sure yet.

- maybe if I keep the zooms real slow and don't go in / out too much they will be viewable

- I am trying especially hard not to let the video equipment distract from the event..once I get a few of these under my belt, I'll get a little more brave and go for a crane! :-) (still working on managing the equipment, the shooting itself, the camera, and the storyline..all new to me)

- you guys may have convinced me to use a second cam..it's a real small SD cam so won't be distracting, and even a few seconds of video from that every now and then would be enough to cover an zooms or pans

- I like the 'SG' method...kind of like the ken burns effect for video .. I've done a PIP before, but both sources were SD..I'll give that some thought too..I like that

I've asked them for a walkthough of the event later this week in the auditorium to veryify camera placement, that I can get a sound board feed, to see how they are going to do the lighting, to try to convince them to let me run wires back to the cam & CF recorder for audio, etc.

I'll noodle on your suggestions ... I've got a week to make some decisions, so I appreciate all of this..thanks!!!
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Old April 9th, 2007, 04:08 PM   #8
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When i first started producing wedding videos I only had one camera. There were a lot of moments during the ceremony when the scene became visually stagnant. I would try to improve the visual dullness by first choosing an end point for a pan/zoom combined movement. Then I would start a slow pan L or R. with a slow zoom out. Once the field of view was wide enough to include my chosen endpoint I would, while continuing the pan, start a slow zoom in.

The trick was to time the whole process to fit within an appropriate soundtrack commentary. It took a while for me to get the cadence identified, but after a few weddings I was able to second guess the amount of time a minister would take to get through some biblical passages traditionally associated with weddings.

With a much more structured environment of a orchestra/choir/public speaking performance it should, in my mind, be much easier to identify the times most appropriate for movement of a camera.
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Old April 10th, 2007, 03:02 PM   #9
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The first thing I would do is stop worrying about a boring video.
Unless you're shooting for a videographer conference or a film festival, no one will care about your shooting.
The people are interested in the content, the message. Your job is to bring that message to them in the best light without being distracting.
I am a two camera company. We have a two camera crew readily available at a moments notice with more videographers a phone call away. We also have a jib and use of a second jib. Although using additional cameras and the jibs and plasmas, projectors, etc., (we have these also) are nice, budget dictates what we use. Many events are still shot with one camera. My partner is currently 250 miles away shooting a single camera corporate single camera (their choice) music event.

What is important is bringing out the best a single camera is capable of. That is dictated by the person behind the camera, camera placement, good lighting and clear audio.
Having a solid tripod with no camera shaking introduced by the camera operator or bouncing floors is a start. Good fluid movements with the ability to anticipate moving subjects without the camera lagging behind. . Camera movement only as needed. Don't try to be three cameras with only one camera. An occasional wide shot followed by close up tight shots. People connect with the facial expressions and emotions of other people. They don't want to see faceless images of people. Remember, television (video) is a close up medium. When moving from one person to another, pull out and zoom back in. Don't search with the camera. Don't play with the zoom. Find another use for that finger.

Suggested shooting of this event as you described using a single camera.
Pre event walk through
Sound check - hook up to sound board if possible. An attenuator is a necessity or you will get sound overload, especially when the choir goes full blast.
Lighting check - if the lighting is not crisp, add your own. If spotlights are used, makse sure the iris is shut down enough to handle the brightest light without burning out the subjects.
Establish location - outside shot of the venue
Opening comments - medium to close up shots
Choir performance - full shot of entire choir followed by slow panning medium shots (several members per shot), close shots of solo singing , shots of the band members if any. Repeat as needed except for the band.
Readings - Medium to close up shots.
Closing - don't miss the closing shots.
If you're shooting from the back, raise the camera as much as possible to eliminate or reduce people blocking your shot.

Post Event
Edit the in between video out. Make your editing look like camera cuts.

Remember, you are there to record the message. No one is there to see your camera work. If the material is interesting, it won't be boring for the people who attend. Just do your best with that one camera and everyone will be pleased.
Allen W
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Old April 10th, 2007, 04:01 PM   #10
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Don't forget stills

Take your digicam, especially if it has a longish zoom and image stabilization and take some stills to intercut with. You only need to use the central 1080x1920, afterall.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 06:12 PM   #11
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So, how did it go? And what solutions did you take on board or what did you solve on your own?

I'd like to hear your experience!
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Old April 27th, 2007, 12:29 AM   #12
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Ah..yes, sorry..I had posted back after the shoot on a different thread but forgot to post back on this one(!)...well, overall, I think it went fine. The event had a certain flow to it, which is what I wanted to capture since it's a part of the story of the evening, and I think I was able to do that.

In fact, I used only the 1 camera..set on a platform they set up for me at the back of the auditorium..the sound guy was very accomodating, and gave me my own mix, and dropped 2 cables down from the sound booth directly above, which I recorded on the tascam, and then set up a backup mike of my own and also recorded.

I used a combination of mid shots and tight shots.. very thankful for the 20x lens on the A1, which let me get a reasonably tight shot when needed (although I would have liked a little tighter, was fine). Tripod (503/351) kept things nice & steady (side note, the new 503hdv head feel really nice..wish I had one of those :-) ).

The two main speakers were pretty riviting, so I kept nice and tight on them, and for the musical performances, I had some nice slow pans of the instruments as well as a few wide shots - not too much moving around, but a little to get some close ups. I did well (IMHO) with the panning / zooming in that I finished each section (musical or talking) at a good point, e.g. either zoomed back out wide for the music, etc. or back on the main speaker, so I think that aspect will work out well.

Also got some wide shots to see the audience perspective as well.

I've only viewed snippets of the tapes, but am planning to start on them this weekend. I may try to cut out selectively a few seconds between sections and either cut or cross fade between cuts from the single tape, just to give a little bit of a multicam feel or some 'relief' for the viewer, but we'll see.

One problem on a tape change that I will have to get creative with (audio kept recording but tape change was slow..maybe 5 seconds).

Also interesting was that 20 mins of the program featured a video which was projected from the booth at the back..I was expecting to see flicker or those rolling lines due to refresh rate problems, but did not see those on the LCD (and did not use the cam's feature to match the projector's display frequency and refresh rate to the cameras..would have needed more practice in advance) ..will have to see if I see them in the video. I framed the projector screen nicely in the camera and zoomed so that the edges were out of view, and to my surprise, it actually looked ok on the LCD. Although I have to say that I did not white balance for it, so the color was off, and I'll have to play with that to see if I can correct it a bit (and also get permission to keep it in the final product..it will have to go if I can't get that). If I do get permission and can't fix it, I may have to get the disk, and cut that footage directly into mine.

Overall, I think I'm satisfied with where I am on the raw footage for only 1 cam, and will post back anything addt'l I learn/do after editing. Could be that with some selective editing and effective use of chapters, that it comes out telling a good story.

Thanks again for everyone's help!
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