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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old November 3rd, 2007, 03:27 PM   #1
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Is this possible?

I've have done a lot of events before for various clients but I have never had the issue of using more than 2 cameras or having to mix the video signals and switch them on the fly. I was recently approached with the idea of doing the production for a semi-professional wrestling match. The issue is the client wants the event edited live and they want to keep costs down. I have done work with switchers and live performances but I haven't done any of it using prosumer equipment at a budget cost. My idea was as follows:

Equipment (shot in HD)
3 Cameras - XH-A1 (we have two and plan to rent another)
Cables - (is it possible to have one camera wireless?)
Communication (we have headsets for everyone)
Lighting (house lighting)
Sound - (we have a sound tech with equipment so that's not an issue)
Monitors - (we have two large HD monitors and a couple smaller ones)

Video Mixing - Here is where things get a little weird. I spoke to a friend and he suggested I use a video switcher that would be able to run a signal to Final Cut Pro. We would put all the video and audio signals into the mixer and capture/monitor using FCP. I have never heard of doing something like this before. I haven't contacted any rental houses yet but it seems this would be an inexpensive alternative (since we already have a powerful system with FCP). We have people who have experience to man the mixer... but I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas what alternatives we have in running the workflow for this type of process?
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 05:14 PM   #2
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While it is possible to have one camera wireless, it will be very expensive if you want a good quality (especially HD), reliable signal. I'd go for wired cameras because it is cheaper and more reliable.
DataVideo has a few switchers that will output FireWire. I have successfully captured from the SE-800DV with QuickTime Pro, so FCP should work, too. DataVideo recently came out with a switcher (SE-1000) that handles HD signals, as their previous models were only SD.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 05:40 PM   #3
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would the syncing and timecode be an issue? I hadn't really taken that into account before. And what kind of cables am I looking at renting in order to get the signal out of the XH A1s?
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Old November 4th, 2007, 07:45 PM   #4
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It depends. Final Cut Pro 5 has a great feature called "Multi-Clip" which allows real time switching of cameras in post. It virtually eliminates the complications of live switching. I'm sure by now other NLE's offer a similar feature.

Briefly, live switching is complicated to set up, takes a lot of equipment, but could be a great cost savings if post time is expected to be long and expensive. To do live switching right, you need a camera operator for each camera, a director, a fail safe communications system, an audio tech, and a switcher operator. You must produce the same image quality as your cameras produce. Ideally, you should have cameras whose scan and color balance can be controlled by the switcher and its related equipment. Those are expensive cameras.

Most of the live mixes I have done always record original footage from each camera in case some part of the program needs to be adjusted.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 07:56 PM   #5
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Most of the live mixes I have done always record original footage from each camera in case some part of the program needs to be adjusted.
That's something we plan on doing. I cannot stress the imporance of having something on tape in case something goes wrong. I've learnt this the hard way.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 03:59 PM   #6
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If I was to go the post route, how would I go around keeping the cameras in sync with the audio during the entire 4 hour shoot? Obviously tape isn't an option so we would have to use hard drive recording. We might be able to have 2 cameras stationary in order to record to computers and have electrical connection, but the question is how would we go about having the third moving camera running? rent a firestore? don't those things have like a 1 hour battery life? Do we even need to have all camera's in sync or could we just wing it with the third?
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Old November 5th, 2007, 04:03 PM   #7
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Stagger the tape switching so that only one camera is tapeless at a time. Sync to anything that is visible to all cameras, like a camera flash.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 04:21 PM   #8
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A word of advice if you are planning on syncing in post: make sure you communicate! I have done many shoots this way and without a director able to see all three signals there will be instances where all cameras have the same shot. Make sure your camera people know their responsibilities in the way of framing and movement.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 10:16 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sebastian Baron View Post
If I was to go the post route, how would I go around keeping the cameras in sync with the audio during the entire 4 hour shoot? Obviously tape isn't an option so we would have to use hard drive recording. We might be able to have 2 cameras stationary in order to record to computers and have electrical connection, but the question is how would we go about having the third moving camera running? rent a firestore? don't those things have like a 1 hour battery life? Do we even need to have all camera's in sync or could we just wing it with the third?
There are several ways to maintain sync between cameras if you choose to switch in post. Since I am familiar with Final Cut I'll use it in my examples.

The camera flash is great as it will white out only one frame. Camera flashes can become a distraction to all participants if the session lasts more than the length of a single tape. This may limit their value as the session progresses.

An audio clap also will work as it produces a clearly visible spike in the audio wave form. It is just a matter of magnifying the audio timeline.

Staggering tape reloading is a must, but demands the program be broken up into sections. Each section must have all camera angles synched again.

My approach is to feed each camera's digital out to a laptop computer and store the video on a large hard drive. A 160G externam firewire HD can store more than four hours of SD video.

All important audio is fed to an audio mixer and then to as many cameras as possible. This insures a consistent audio feed. An iRiver (or any other MP3 recorder allowing mic or line feeds is also attached to the audio mixer. I think my MP3 recorder can record something like 6 hours or better.

Once the video is loaded into Final Cut I start up the MultiClip feature. The most tedious task is to sync the cameras. Then I decide which of the camera audio tracks will go to the audio timeline. With everything set it is simply a matter of pressing the play button. I change camera angles on the fly by clicking on the real time thumbnail screen of the camera I want to use. When the sequence is done I review the whole thing, making any changes and adjustments I feel necessary. Once satisfied, I disengage the MultiClip feature (I can always re-engage it if necessary). The last step is to import the MP3 audio, sync it, and do some fine tuning.

If your NLE doesn't support real time switching, simply resize video from all cameras so they fit on the record monitor portion of the screen (Final Cut calls this screen the Canvas). Sync each camra angle, then plod through the entire project, trimming out the camera angles you do not want. You'll end up with a bunch of video clips on several video layers. Each clip must be resized back to full screen. This process tekes a lot tof time, so be patient.


I hope I have provided some useful information.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 03:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Waldemar Winkler View Post
Useful information
Thanks, there was some really good information in that.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 10:52 PM   #11
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does anyone here do live switching for the ceremony?

If so, what equipment do you use? I have a xh a1 and an hv20 and am considering this option rather than editing in post.

thank you
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