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Old May 17th, 2007, 05:16 AM   #1
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Two-camera gig filming

Hello. We have started a small production company aimed at events, real estate and local TV. As we do not have real broadcast education, I would like to ask you this.

We like to film music gigs with two cameras - one fixed on tripod and one shoulder-mount to take on details.

Sometimes, we get great footage like this which is a joy to cut and with careful editing, it seems that lot more than two cameras were used. As we do not have pro-grade broadcasting equipment (just two JVC HD110s with regular tapes), sometimes we focus on the same person or make this kind of mistakes, and get bad and downright amateurish results when editing.

I don't like to have my tripod camera to stay with fixed focal lenght, because sometimes we can get interesting results better conveying the sense of music using fast zooms and changes of frames.

So, to sum it up, do you guys have any useful tricks for creative two-camera event capturing? Thanks!

PS: you can see our gig highlights here: http://youtube.com/profile?user=stooovie
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Old May 17th, 2007, 10:14 AM   #2
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Hello to Brno - I had the chance to visit some 25 years ago, but I still remember the beautiful old architecture.

Although I'm in a different environment (church events and classical music), I can totally relate to your problem. Even with three or four cameras, I've experienced the same frustration: if uncoordinated, all camera people tend to focus on the soloist, and that leaves me sometimes with no picture from another soloist just starting to perform. Additionally I ran into the issue of having all of the cameras moving fast/uncontrolled, at the same time, which is a problem in my case as I intend to have clean stable images with slow pans or zooms – probably not an issue in your case, working on a different kind of music.

Of course, the best solution would be to fully coordinate all camera people via a communication system, but that proves challenging or totally useless even in my environment sometimes, let alone yours (high audio level). I’ve tried hand sings for coordination, but that doesn’t always work as cameramen can’t always see each other, or even if they can, they may not have the time to look.

The only one solution that works for me so far is to leave one camera some place at the back of the audience, set it onto the entire stage and resist the temptation to pan/scan… sort of an “establishing shot”. This makes also editing very easy as you can place the front camera on top of the first one on the timeline (PremPro in my case) and after syncing them, all you have to do is throw away the sections of the front camera you don’t want, falling back on the back camera for those moments. This may or may not work for you though, as you work in a “fast paced environment” so to speak.

In addition – and this may work for you too – I tried leaving the camera at the back on HD, and using the camera at the front in SD (as long as my final format is SD). This way I’ve been able to zoom/pan/scan/resize off of the larger frame and even make it look like I had multiple cameras at the back. I hope this helps some…
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Old May 17th, 2007, 10:02 PM   #3
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For music performance, I suggest a communication system with a director and feed back video to monitors that the director can use to control the camera shots.The director needs to know music so that they can anticipate when solos are ABOUT to occur and have a feel for the pace of the music and be able to relate that to camera movement.Then " direct" the camera ops.
The communication system works fine even in loud venues simply because most of the communication is from the director to each camera op.The camera op only listens and with headsets the volume of the headset can be controlled.
I know having a director may be adding an additional crew member but if you want to do it right you have to go some extra steps.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 03:27 AM   #4
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Offcourse, the above mentioned methods are the best, but what we do if we only got 2 camera's and no other equipment, we try to be with 3 people during the registration. 1 camera is taking close ups/mediums and the other is more total, so you can always cut back to this camera. The third person switches between the two camera's to tell that the other can go close, to get more variation in the shots, so you don't have the same total angle and a more close angle.

You can offcourse do this with to people aswell, you just have to pay attention to your collegue (which isn't always easy during a shoot)
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Old May 18th, 2007, 06:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jiri Fiala View Post
...
I don't like to have my tripod camera to stay with fixed focal lenght, because sometimes we can get interesting results better conveying the sense of music using fast zooms and changes of frames.

Just one person's opinion here, but PLEASE try to avoid the use of many zooms during the shot, or at least only use them very, VERY sparingly. Think of the zoom lens as being a bagful of interchangeable fixed focus lenses in a lighter-weight, more convenient package. The zoom is handy for changing from one size image to the another to adjust what is in frame but in most cases the zoom movement itself is very distracting - it calls attention to the camera and takes it away from the subject - and that portion of the shot should end up on the editing room floor most of the time. Camera movements such as pans and tilts, dolley in and out, tracking and pedestal up/down shots are all important ways of redirectling the audience's attention to the various details in the scene but nothing says "amateur" like lots of zooming, especially fast zooms. Most of the time, when you do use a zoom movement it should be very slow and produce just a subtle adjustment in the mount of material included in frame.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 02:25 PM   #6
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I don't think that there is anything wrong with zooms, it just depends on what kind of feel/style you want to go with. Sometimes, it works if you edit in focus pulls and crash zooms.

However, taking a look at the highlight reel, I would not use the zoom in that manner... if you crash zoom, don't play with the zoom after it. I find the camerawork weird and distracting. Hold the shot for however many seconds the editor needs / appropriate for the rate you're cutting at. If the cameraperson is good, they can use their own instinct about when to time their zooms and camera movements... it should follow the music, such as when the singer is about to start singing or has finished the chorus.

2- If you get cutaway/b-roll shots of the audience jamming along, close-ups of the instruments, etc. it can look like you have more cameras. You can shoot another performance and throw these cutaway shots in.

If possible, get a third camera on a locked off shot of the whole stage. You can use this as a safety shot and for the start and end of each song.

3- Work out a plan about who shoots what. If you have more resources you can run all the cables to a monitor where the director can watch and direct over intercom (or walkie talkies; get good isolating headphones). But otherwise you can just work out a plan of who shoots what. One camera can shoot the soloist/lead (and other shots, like pan over to the crowd), while the other camera covers everything else.

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As we do not have real broadcast education
The way to get a real broadcast education is to learn it from someone who does it or to learn by doing. Schooling just goes over the basics.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 09:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Most of the time, when you do use a zoom movement it should be very slow and produce just a subtle adjustment in the mount of material included in frame.
With all due respect Steve you make that sound like a rule, which it isn't. I don't really practice an active, zoom-y shooting style, constantly punching in and re-framing, but I've seen a TON of broadcast TV work that does this and does it skillfully. It all depends on the context and the chops of the person behind the camera- and if the audience digs it, then it works.

I do agree with Glenn's suggestions for getting plenty of B-roll and and having a shooting strategy or assignments. It's a lot nicer to edit when you have motivated camera coverage.
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Old May 19th, 2007, 12:58 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your insights... I surely accept criticism of our shooting style, as these were the first musical events we ever captured, and we need to improve a lot. One thing we learned during this job is to shoot a plenty of b-roll - you cannot really edit something like this without cutaways.
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