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Old July 3rd, 2006, 09:32 PM   #1
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PD 170 in a Comedy Club

I just bought this bad boy and am very excited to try it out. It was a dissapointment to see the price tag rise and rise with the neccesary accesories, but I digress.

I am a pretty much a novice and I plan on getting some footage of some friends doing stand up in a comedy club. Do you have any suggestions for A. getting the best video in a dark setting and B. picking up the best audio (aside from plugging into the soundboard or using a wireless mic on the comic).

plus any other general tips for this beaut would be appreciated!
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 10:51 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Leiderman
I just bought this bad boy and am very excited to try it out. It was a dissapointment to see the price tag rise and rise with the neccesary accesories, but I digress.

I am a pretty much a novice and I plan on getting some footage of some friends doing stand up in a comedy club. Do you have any suggestions for A. getting the best video in a dark setting and B. picking up the best audio (aside from plugging into the soundboard or using a wireless mic on the comic).

plus any other general tips for this beaut would be appreciated!
Ummm... in a setting where there is stage lighting, all I can suggest from the top of my head would be... make sure you white balance. That helps A LOT. And you ruled out the best two forms of getting good audio from a setting where you will obviously have a lot of background noise, so the only other thing I could suggest for you is to sit up front.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 11:03 PM   #3
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Welcome to the club.

There are a ton of threads on this and other forums about shooting stage events. Do a search for them and you will get more info than you probably want.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 11:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bolia
Ummm... in a setting where there is stage lighting, all I can suggest from the top of my head would be... make sure you white balance. That helps A LOT. And you ruled out the best two forms of getting good audio from a setting where you will obviously have a lot of background noise, so the only other thing I could suggest for you is to sit up front.

Well, it will be somewhat impromptu filming. Some comedians I won't know and will have to ask their permission shortly before show time--not having built up the rapport yet to frisk and fit them with mics. And I figure the less I hassle and ask of the club, the better (in the hopes they won't kick me out).

You'd think sitting up front is better than sitting near one of the club's speakers? It's fine to get crowd laughter...although it would be a shame to have it ruined by people whispering amongst themselves.


Is the shotgun mic supplied with the pd170 good enough for what I hope to do? Would upgrading to a Rode 250 dollar mic do me any good?

Thanks ya'll.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 11:34 PM   #5
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Ryan, I thought you said you were planning on shooting footage of your friends... not random people. Eh, just search the forums as Mike suggested. I'm not sure about sitting in front of the speakers, since I have no ideas where the speakers will be located.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 12:09 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Tom Bolia
Ryan, I thought you said you were planning on shooting footage of your friends... not random people. Eh, just search the forums as Mike suggested. I'm not sure about sitting in front of the speakers, since I have no ideas where the speakers will be located.

some friends, some random...

any thought on my need for upgrading the shotgun mic that came with it?
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Old July 4th, 2006, 12:23 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ryan Leiderman
some friends, some random...

any thought on my need for upgrading the shotgun mic that came with it?
I've never been in a club to shoot any footage, but I would imagine it's not too different from shooting footage during church plays we have. If the sound is set up properly (as I presume it would be since stage performances are done constantly), then getting sound from the club's speakers should be no problem with the PD170. Just monitor you audio input visually (via camera display) and by using headphones/earphones. :o)
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Old July 4th, 2006, 01:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bolia
I've never been in a club to shoot any footage, but I would imagine it's not too different from shooting footage during church plays we have. If the sound is set up properly (as I presume it would be since stage performances are done constantly), then getting sound from the club's speakers should be no problem with the PD170. Just monitor you audio input visually (via camera display) and by using headphones/earphones. :o)

thanks tom..I will try it out with the supplied mic and see how it goes.

as I novice, I don't even know how I would monitor the audio input--and for what? I assume you mean to make sure things dont get too loud or soft? is this viewable on the lcd screen I'm guessing? I don't even know how to adjust these levels..

sorry for the novice questions
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Old July 4th, 2006, 09:11 AM   #9
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You mean your PD170 came without an instruction book?
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Old July 4th, 2006, 12:04 PM   #10
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Sooner or later you'll have to sit down with the manual as Tom suggested. But if you want to put it off, try an evening of shooting with both the video and the audio in auto mode and see what you get. Chances are it won't be too bad, and once you know exactly what you want to improve you can just read that part of the manual or ask more specific questions here.

Shooting near a PA speaker will get you better audio (not as thin and echoey) than elsewhere, but chances are that you will eventually want to invest more in audio so you're free to choose other camera positions.
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Old July 5th, 2006, 09:18 PM   #11
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I'm going to be doing exactly this next month. The comedy show is being promoted by a local radio station (WJLB Detroit) and this shoot, using a total of four cameras, is sanctioned by the club and the performers. We're anticipating potential sales in the thousands - got my fingers crossed tight!

Anyhow, I strongly recommend recording a direct feed from the audio board somehow, whether it's to the camera or an external device. There is a headphone jack on your camera; it's on the right side (same side the tape goes in) near the lens assembly, just lift up the rubber cover. You can also push the AUDIO LEVEL button on the back (left of the battery) and get VU meters in your viewfinder. The easiest way to deal with it is to not deal with it - simply go through your menus, find the audio settings, and turn on the AGC (automatic gain control) for both channels. If all you're using is the factory mic, make sure the little switches up front are set to record at mic level across both channels with the +48v phantom power on. Make sure you're getting audio, and you're golden.

Believe it or not, the stage lighting should be just fine for your 170. I've done a few music shows with my 150, and they look great with no extra lighting needed. If you intend to get crowd shots, you may need a light then. Will you be near the stage? That makes a difference, too.

For these rap shows, I've been using "hip" camera angles, leaning it on the monopod, tilting it way back when close to the stage, stuff like that; but I think a comedy show calls for a somewhat more conservative approach. You should simply concentrate on keeping the comedian in the shot. Since we're going to have the luxury of four cameras, I think cam 1 (probably me) should be near the stage following the comedian, cam 2 (which will be a Panasonic DVX100) should be in the middle and used for both medium shots of the stage and crowd shots, stationary cam 3 (a VX1000) should be way in back, and stationary cam 4 (my trusty little Panasonic PV-GS120) should be facing the crowd. Heck, I may dredge up my old JVC again and use it as a secondary crowd cam. Ever since it got knocked off that beer cooler, the audio's working again!
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Old July 6th, 2006, 01:26 PM   #12
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Ryan,
I haven't done comedy clubs but I have done stage shows.

Assuming there is a sound system for the event.....
I use an Audio Technica AT835B on a boom stand. MUCH better than the stock mic. Set that channel to Auto Gain on and that channel's switch to "mic" or for really loud condidtions "mic att". Use the on camera mic as a backup or, if you want, you can pic up a feed from the sound system on the other channel. I find the ambient sound is better than the feed because the audience reaction is so important to get the feeling of being there.
If you get a small sound board you can have more feeds but be carefuell of how you mix them to the two channels you will be recording on. You may not want to use some of the tracks in post but if they are mixed with good stuff you are SOL.

If there is no sound system I'd use a wireless for the performer and the AT835B on a boom directed at the audience.

The PD170 will do fine in the lighting. Forget about auto exposure. The stage lighting is just too much for the auto functions to figure out correctly. You will need to stay in manual and practice stopping up and down a lot before you do the real thing. Use zebra and when in doubt err on the darker side. I've had good luck with autofocus in most stage events as long as there is good lighting and no one passes in front of the camera. Buy a cheap 13 inch tv from Walmart to help see what is happening with focus and exposure. I know it's not the best way to do it but it sure is more practical for low profit event coverage and works better than the LCD screen.

All this kind of locks you down to a stationary camera and with only one that may be a problem. I use two on tripods and sometimes add one handheld.

Hope this helps. Good Luck.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 03:08 PM   #13
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Wow- did the red flags just go up or what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Leiderman
Well, it will be somewhat impromptu filming. Some comedians I won't know and will have to ask their permission shortly before show time--not having built up the rapport yet to frisk and fit them with mics. And I figure the less I hassle and ask of the club, the better (in the hopes they won't kick me out).
Do you have the clubs' permission to shoot? That should be the first order of business because without it, they woud very likely throw you out.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 04:50 PM   #14
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With regard to using a shotgun in a comedy club. While it can be done, the shotgun is not the ideal tool. Why? Because it is very easy to overload a shotgun, even a 835B and a shotgun is not directional for lower frequencies. The lower the frequency, the more omni the the response.

I'd select a cardiod (if you need directionality) that's capable of high SPLs. You will get a more 'normal' response (shotguns don't sound as good as other, more optimal types of microphones). If you have a house feed into one channel, then the on-board microphone will pick up the audience response well enough.

Understand that not even a shotgun will do you much good for the performer in any case. Either get a house feed or wire them up (much easier to get a house feed).

Whatever you do, check everything out well before the event. You won't have time to fix, get, or do whatever you may need to do the day of the event.

Exposure. The spots they use on the talent are normally set at one level. So get up on stage with a 18% gray card and set your exposure. Then don't play with it during the event.

Focus. Get back far enought and central enough that you don't have to fool with it during the event. If you are central and back a ways, you can pan the camera without requiring a focus change.

Make it easy on yourself and pre-set everything you can. These cameras don't make changing settings easy during an event and when you do, it is normally very visible.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 08:12 PM   #15
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Mike, I agree with the center camera focus. I do that as well. I think I would have to say be ready to compensate for exposure though. I've never done any "pro" club type work, just local recitals, pageants, plays, etc. Maybe the lighting is more consistent at those places but I've never seen any stage event with consistent enough lighting to just leave the aperture set where it is. That may say something about the lighting equipment or operators. I'd say get familiar with changing it anyway and if you need to you won't be as likely to turn the knob the wrong way......... not that I've ever done that... hehehe :-)

On the microphone thing, what do you recommend? This is more of hobby that pays for itself for me so I tried to get enough to do what I needed without breaking the bank. I only wanted to buy one mic that would work for interviews as well as events and a wireless mic system when I purchased. I got a Sennheiser G2 and the AT835B which seemed to be the best performance / dollar buy when I was looking.

White Balance: This may not be news but I was reading over at Ken Rockwell's site about a new white balance tool called the Expodisc. It's basically a whitish piece of translucent plastic that looks and attaches like a lens filter. Instead of WB from where you have your camera set up you take the camera to where the subject will be, attach the Expodisc aim the camera back in the direction of where your camera will be shooting from and then perform a white balance. Once done remove the Expodisc and set your camera back up where it's supposed to be. The result is a much better white balance. I tried the same method shooting the WB through a piece of milk jug I cut out (the translucent white kind) and through a thin white piece of copier paper. I worked much better than WB by just aiming at grey or white from where you are shooting. The results look much more natural.

Disclaimer: I did this with my D200. I haven't done it with my video cameras yet but I would expect similar results.
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