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Old March 12th, 2003, 12:50 PM   #1
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DVX settings for live theatre

I am shooting a live performance of a dramatic production, so I have no control over lighting, and no retakes. I expect the scene to be generally dark, with some spotlit areas, but with some action in dark areas too. I hope to know the action well enough to be do some closeups as well as wider shots. Any suggestions about what camera settings to use, e.g. Auto or manual focus, auto or manual Iris, Gain level, Detail level, Gamma etc?
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Old March 14th, 2003, 02:34 AM   #2
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Your biggest problem is going to be one of correct exposure. If the actors are well enough lit to see, then the auto-focus shouild be fine. Lock in the artificial white balance or strong coloured lighting will have the camera constantly trying to correct and in so doing, diluting the lighting director's intent.

Set up uour tripod far enough away to encompass the whole stage in the wide-angle mode, that way you know you'll be getting the very best close-ups possible. I always run a second camera so that I can cut back to it to cover my zooms and mistakes. (Did I say that?).

Now back to your exposure. You absolutely must be in manual mode. Not "spotlight" or any other silly mode, but manual. The wonderful thing about the DVX100 is the invisibility of the aperture wheel - you can twiddle with it and smoothly increase or decrease the exposure. Not so on any Sony. They kick the exposure in very visible half stops, up or down.

Have you thought about the audio? The cheapest solution is to run a mini disk at the front being fed with a good mic. Use your on-board mics for backup and audience reaction.

tom.
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Old March 14th, 2003, 05:52 AM   #3
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Thanks. That's very helpful. I discovered the auto aperture problem at the dress rehersal. Kept on getting 100% on the Zebra. So I changed to manual focus and shut down the aperture until there only little spots of 100%. The problem is the very high contrast, so eliminating all the 100% areas makes the main subject too dark, and I can't always reframe the shot to eliminate the highlights, e.g. they are on the actor's face! Would any of the other adjustments, e.g. gamma, master pedestal etc. help to reduce the contrast in the 60-100% range, so I don't have to close the aperture so much. I am not so worried about detail in darker areas.

I'm not sure about the best way to mike. It's in a church, so very resonant. The stage is in front of the altar screen with audience sitting in the nave, and the orchestra to the left of the audience. I am shooting from the right side, which is where I have a stereo microphone (Rode NT4), one capsule pointing to the orchestra, one to the stage. It's about 10 feet away from the front of the stage on the right, and must be about 30 feet away from the left side of the stage and the orchestra. The sound is obviously a bit muddled, but it's acceptable for my purposes. I suppose the alternative is a single microphone in front of the orchestra, and one in front of the stage. The one in front of the stage would have to be at floor level to be unobtrusive. Presumably I would then mix this to mono. My single (cardioid) microphones are not as good quality as the Rode.

Patrick
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Old March 14th, 2003, 02:00 PM   #4
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Your movie frame can tolerate quite a lot of galloping zebras Patrick, especially if you've got them set up to appear at the 100 level. People generally under-expose the first few times they use the zebras as it's tempting to think "over-exposure!" and back away, horrified. But it's not like that. Put your camera in auto exp with zebras on and see how ofter the camera is happey to have them around.

tom.
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