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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old April 10th, 2003, 07:30 AM   #46
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I've been learning a bit about shooting stage shows with a VX-2000 during the past couple of years. I've been a theatrical lighting designer for around 30 years, and am discovering just how different the needs of video lighting are!

Others have posted some very good advice already. Sometimes I white balance to an ungelled full intensity stage light, but in truth I've found that the camera's builtin incandescent setting is just about the same. But your biggest enemy is the high contrast offered by the stage lighting. You usually have to decide whether you want properly exposed faces floating in a sea of darkness or properly exposed scenery with overexposed faces. This situation is made worse when follow spots are used. You will need to iris down as you zoom in for close shots of the performers, then open up to get full stage shots that show the scenery.

Generally speaking, I try to err on the side of underexposure since you can compensate for this to a certain degree in post. Once you overexpose something the detail is lost forever. I have also been experimenting with various filters and color correction techniques in FCP and find you can really improve your results this way. There's a filter called "silk stocking" that I like. If you set it to a low level you can reduce the contrast and soften edges a bit without making things blurry. You can download this filter at http://www.digitalfilmtree.com/EuPlugins.html.

The other thing that I find very important is camera location; closer is better. Even with a good tripod you may get shaky shots if you're far from the stage, depending on the construction of the theatre. Old buildings with wooden floors tend to move when inhabited by large numbers of people ;-) The optical stabilizer on the VX-2000 can help with this... does the DSR-200 have one? Personally I don't like shooting from the balcony since the stage floor becomes your background, and I find it generally unflattering to look down on people in closeups. Some of my favorite shots have come from a location around the 3rd row with the tripod extended all the way so the camera is just below the performers' eye level. Of course this needs to be done at a rehearsal since it would block audience view. In this location you have to be ready for some quick zooming and panning whenever someone crosses the stage. I usually rely on the VX-2000's autofocus since I don't have enough fingers and hands to zoom, pan, iris, adjust audio and focus at the same time. Maybe one of those varizoom controllers would help? I'm sure that a "real" lens would also be easier to handle than the lousy focus ring on the VX-2000.

Now the final thing to consider is the legality of filming a musical. Copyright issues have been discussed extensively in another forum. But just be careful, even if the singers and musicians have given you permission because the publishers of the music may very likely forbid videotaping and you could be exposing yourself and the producers to an unpleasant situation...
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Old April 10th, 2003, 08:02 AM   #47
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Hi Boyd

Just one quick question,

Have you ever filmed this sort of thing with 2 cameras?

In terms of a finished product for an audience, this is a significant enhancement.

Or Perhaps, you might only be taking short bursts to demonstrate your LX deisgns.

Thanks fro the tips. P
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Old April 10th, 2003, 10:21 AM   #48
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Regarding multiple cameras, there are some delicate IATSE union issues regarding the filming of our archive videos. The crew likes me and is used to seeing me hanging around with a camera, so they don't mind if I shoot video. In fact, the "consumery" look of the VX-2000 works very much in my favor in this regard. OTOH, sometimes we use a professional video company to shoot archive tapes. They bring in road cases with big tripods and a Beta camera. In this instance the crew insists that we hire two additional stagehands (video and sound). We might have been OK with this, but they ruffled some feathers the first time they showed up by having about 3 interns with them to help load everything in. It's all about perception...

So I don't think I could get away with a multiple camera setup without raising some eyebrows. What I have done however is to shoot several performances of the same show from different locations on different nights. This gets a little tricky to sync up the sound, but it can be done (opera tends to be pretty consistent from show to show).

As for the use of these videos, they are strictly controlled by contractural arrangements and are classified as "archive tapes" which may only be used for internal study. It's too bad because some of them look pretty good. I've tried to see about posting short clips on a website, or using them as a portfolio piece, but it's kind of a hot button issue, especially when contract negotiations are in progress. Perhaps this can be revisited at a better time.

We are able to shoot short segments for PR purposes, but these have strange limitations. We are dealing with three unions; IATSE (stagehands), AGMA (singers) and AFM (orchestra). As I recall, we can shoot a maximum of 30 minutes of which we may only use something like 5 minutes. Again, shooting such PR footage would require additional IATSE crew. Last year we had the crew and the pro video company onsite already to shoot an archive tape and asked if we could just excerpt 5 minutes to use for PR. The decision was no, we could not. We actually had to setup two cameras side by side and only run one of the for 30 minutes!

About 3 years ago we did a full PBS broadcast of one of our operas (Italian Girl in Algiers) that was filmed by WHYY with the support of grant. This turned into sort of a labor, logistical and contractual nightmare for us. It's amazing how greedy everyone gets when a broadcast is involved. I believe the setup used 10 different cameras throughout the theatre, with a van outside doing a live mix and broadcast. This cost several hundred thousand dollars, and it looked very impressive. But the producer substantially underestimated the crew costs and we were in crisis mode right up until air time, as they were balking at paying some of the charges. The contract was actually signed on opening night, about 2 hours before we went live. It was a learning experience for me, and one which I would not care to repeat anytime soon ;-)
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Old April 10th, 2003, 12:57 PM   #49
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First let me say this; unions in big houses have very strict rules for good reasons. Often people try to make money from their toils without paying the stagehands any renumeration. If you think the stagehands are tough, try screwing with the musicians union. OK, enough of that.

The following is a post I placed on another forum for a group that was looking for some tips shooting a stage show with multiple cameras on multiple nights, which is the very best way to shoot a live show. Although Alex is not shooting multiple nights/cameras, some of this will apply, I hope.

***
Multiple cameras on multiple evenings is the right idea. I'm just going to bang out ideas, and you can make of them what you will.

Let's say you have three cameras each night. On the first night you need to set your white balance and exposure for the shows. You will not change these items unless something very dramatic happens. You cannot be responsible for the lighting, so you are at the mercy of the stage crew. Before the show, get the three cameras close together not too far from the stage. Ask the lighting director to give you a "key" light center stage, at the show level. Tell him you are setting your exposure and white balance to this level and hope he will maintain it throughout the show. This light should be color corrected to 3200K. If not, you will have some differences in the light as people move around the stage. Not your problem. White balance to his show light. No colored lights, please. OK. White balance and set exposure for the three cameras. Error on the side of slight overexposure. Now, leave the exposure and white balance alone. Do not be fiddling during the show, or you will have hell to pay in post. If the lighting seems dark, hey, that's what the lighting director wanted. If all the lights suddenly go blue, same thing. You have an advantage in that you know some of these players and they will hopefully cooperate with you. Talk to them now, and if they don't understand something, let me know. The big thing is to correct all spot lights to 3200K, and to maintain a consistent key light level.

Now position each camera for the show. For the first night I would position one camera very wide to show the proscenium arch, if it will have light on it. Go even wider if it looks good. After the show begins, titen this camera in to go edge to edge on the stage. Put a little audience in the bottom of the frame.Leave it. This is your fallback. At the end of an act, or the show, widen back to see the proscenium again, and the standing ovation.

See if you can place a second camera in the center of the audience about eye level. If not, go for behind that last row. Use this camera to follow the action in group shots, panning with the performers. What you are doing with the cameras is learning the show this first night. Don't worry about mistakes, as you have two more nights. If you have a third camera, it can be close to the number two camera, or somewhere else where it can get closer shots, such as waist shots. This should be the best operator, as he/she will have to worry about focus and framing more than the other two, and have a great sense for musical theatre. Be sure to check that the camera's have enough lens for the position. Can they get tight enough?

If there is any way, you can rent a wireless p.l. system, such as RTS, it would be great. Someone who knows the show could be cueing you as to what is coming next, for instance, "Willie enters from camera left, to center stage, and sings, crossing to girl stage right on chorus." If it is not too loud in the house you might get away with walkie talkies with an earpiece. The show's stage manager is a possible contender for this role.

Next night, more of the same. Bring the wide camera down into the house if everything went well the night before. Number two camera can stay as is. Now the operators should know the show better and can clean up some moves. Same with the close up camera. Start getting more bold. Could try tightening with the music on some shots. Number one camera down in the house now also shooting tighter coverage. (you can finesse these to the show's requirements) Just don't try to get every little nuance, cause it ain't gonna happen. Cover your butt. Don't place cameras at oblique angles that look into the wings and see nothing but black and stagehands. After each performance talk about what you got and what you missed. Its OK to shoot the same coverage over. Sometimes you get better performance. Remember KISS.
Tape changes. Would be nice if they have an act break that you could change during. Otherwise, try to schedule during a big production number where you would be on a wide shot from that Number one camera the first night. He could shut down for a couple minutes early, then start up again so he had enough tape to cover the change. A tape change should take less than a minute. Everyone should know when the change is to take place. You can also stagger the tape changes so only one camera is down at a time.

Audio is a real problem. It would be great if you could get a house feed to at least two of the cameras, and stagger their tape changes so you get the entire show. The third camera could have a feed from a mic down center close to the stage. Good luck riding the gain. This would also give you audience applause, which the house will not cover. I would not be too concerned about stereo, unless you get a lot of help from the house. You can create some stereo effects in post. Hopefully you can hand off the audio to someone else who knows their stuff. Be prepared to tape down mic cables to the floor for safety. You can use that duct tape you bought for homeland security.

Cameras placed in the audience should be set on a tripod low enough that they don't interfere with people seated behind, but high enough to avoid heads in the foreground, until they pull back wide to see them. One seat is plenty of room for one camera. If the house has two aisles, a camera in or near the aisle usually works well. Honor the fire marshall. He's the boss.

If you get a chance, it is always nice to have one or two cameras shoot the audience applauding, but usually the light falls off dramatically past the first couple of rows. Remember the possibility of a standing ovation. Pan shots are great for bows. Also good during big chorus numbers.

You need a good tripod if you have to do pans at the longest focal length your camera can provide. Check it before the event. This is more difficult. Most zoom lenses are subject to an anamoly called portholing; that is, at the very last couple of millimeters of the zoom range, when the lens is wide open, or close to it, you will see the picture quality degrade, as the lens is "starving for light" these last couple of clicks. But I don't think you will have this problem if they are using good spotlights. You will know when you set your exposure as per my suggestions above. Anything at 2.8 or lower can be trouble.

You might want to have a small flashlight if the house is especially dark, for changing tapes and checking camera settings.
Stay away from filters.

And don't forget to have some fun!
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Old April 11th, 2003, 06:14 PM   #50
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Wow thanks for all the wonderful ideas. They are all going to really help.
A co-worker and me are doing sound for the play so getting a feed from the board should not be a problem.
I am using a Manfrotto tripod the head is a 510, and the sticks are #350B. So it should be pretty steady.

Once agene thanks for all the grate replies
Alex
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Old April 16th, 2003, 10:33 PM   #51
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VX9000

Who can tell me about DCR-VX9000 PAL camcorder?
I planing to buy used one. What should be I aware of?
I do not know if there is different betwen "Full Size DV Tape" and DVCAM tape.
Do I realy need tape with memory chip?
I need this camcorder to use in Europe.
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Old April 16th, 2003, 10:38 PM   #52
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Do you really want a PAL camera? Do you have the PAL support equipment?
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Old April 16th, 2003, 10:46 PM   #53
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VX9000 PAL

This camcorder is intended to use in Slovakia/Europe where is PAL system.
As post processing will use P4 computer wit DV Storm2 hardware and Adobe Premier.
Is there any recomendation?
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Old April 16th, 2003, 11:13 PM   #54
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Isn't the VX-9000 the full size cousin of the VX-1000 (as the PD-250 would be to the VX-2000)? If so you would be getting somewhat older technology.
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Old April 16th, 2003, 11:31 PM   #55
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VX9000 PAL

I'm not shure, but I like the size and shoulder type of VX9000.
I do have VX2000, but i do not like it, because is to small.
I planing to sale VX2000 NTSC which I purchased last month.
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Old April 17th, 2003, 05:36 AM   #56
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The VX9000 will definitely be a step backwards from the VX2000 with regard to image quality and feature set. The VX9000 is indeed the shoulder-mount version of the older, now outdated VX1000.

Consider instead the DSR250, which is the shoulder-mount version of the VX2000. Same great image quality, low-light performance, etc. but takes the larger full-size DV or DVCAM cassettes and has a pro black and white CRT viewfinder as well as a flip-out color LCD screen. It's a superb camcorder.

You don't need the memory-chip tapes, by the way. Hope this helps,
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Old April 17th, 2003, 09:47 AM   #57
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I think that was the PAL version of the DSR200, which was the DVCAM version of the VX1000 in the U.S. However, I believe the VX9000 shoots DV and not DVCAM, and that it uses either mini or full size DV tapes. Because it's a PAL camera it would be better quality than the old VX1000/DSR200. It may not be quite as good as a PAL DSR250 but it would be a nice camera if you find one in good condition for a good price.
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Old April 17th, 2003, 10:04 AM   #58
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VX9000 PAL

Thanks all of you who did replay to my post.
I understand, that this camcorder is older version, but I like to purchace this camcorder for my brother who is wedding photographer in Slovakia. Until now he is using full size S-VHS camcorder Panasonic ( I think some as AG 9500).
My filling is, that this VX9000 will be big step up for him.
I can not oversee the price of DSR250 and VX9000. The difference is big. Sony VX9000 PAL I can get for $2000 in very good condition.

Please advise me if I am correct in my thinking.

Also please explain me difference betwen "Full Size DV tape" and DVCAM tape. Are they transparent compatible or are they different of each other? In other words, can I use DVCAM tapes in VX9000?
Thanks
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Old April 17th, 2003, 10:40 AM   #59
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DV tapes come in two different size cassettes. The miniDV are the small ones that record 60 minutes. Full size ones can hold up to about 4 hours. DVCAM tapes are basically the same thing and also come in mini and full size. Sony cameras that use full size cassettes also can use the mini's. You can also use DVCAM tape in the camera. It will record DV onto the DVCAM tape. Most Sony cameras will play DV or DVCAM. Some will record only DV, some both and some DVCAM only. The tapes are basically the same and are interchangeable.
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Old April 17th, 2003, 10:49 AM   #60
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VX9000 PAL

Thanks Bill Pryor for your clear explanation of tapes.

I you or anybody can explain me if there is reason to use DVCAM tapes in camcorder recording DV format only. In this case Am I gona receive better quality of recording or not.

Also i still do not understand why sony uses memory chip inside tape. I know is recording same information on it, but do I need it if I will post process tape on PC with DV Storm2 ?

Thanks again.
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