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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old May 14th, 2008, 01:41 PM   #1
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Dance Recital?

Does anyone video dance recitals? I am going to record one this next weekend and all they are hoping for is quality video and decent audio. I am hoping to deliver more, possibly getting more of this type of work in the future.

Will be shot in a Theater I have no access to until the day of the recital but do know i can shoot from the balcony and can reserve quite a bit of space so will be using two XH-A1's and also have my Sony PCM-D50 for a backup audio.

For this type of work, using Tripods would you still stick to the 60i for the speed?

Any other suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated.

Denny
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Old May 14th, 2008, 02:01 PM   #2
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Been there .. done that ... probably never going back.

How are you getting paid? That's question number one. When I was doing it I was to sell DVD's of the recital to make my money. This never went well, since 75% of the parents were already filming with their own cameras. I would sell 10-25 DVD's, which never came close to paying my time for setup, shooting, editing and DVD production. Not even remotely close.

I tried to negotiate a new arrangement one year, where I was paid by the dance studio to film/edit/produce the DVD's and then the dance studio took over DVD sales to make their own profit. I was turned down because of the "work involved". Laughable. It's too much work for them to arrange DVD sales for profit, but not too much for me to do that in addition to filming, editing and producing the DVDs?

To ramble some more, the difficult part with filming any group of dancers at a recital is that individual parents will want a focus on their child, but if a group of 5 or 10 or 15 kids is on the stage you can't do any focusing on individuals without causing yourself issues down the road (ie - parent questions you as to why someone else's child was featured up close but not theirs, or someone else's child was featured more than theirs). This is why most of them will just take their own camera inside.

Oh, and even if you arrange that video cameras are not allowed, don't count on it. I filmed a beauty pageant once and the contract specified that they would not allow audience members to film. The program starts and I quickly notice people everywhere with cameras filming. I didn't sell a single DVD at that event. Ridiculous.

If you still want advice on actually shooting the event, here goes ...

I recommend 2 cameras. Put both in the balcony and set one for a wide shot and use the other to follow individuals or small groups. Lighting is going to change a lot, so you'll want quick access to both cameras to try and help with that. I would also recommend getting a feed to the sound board rather than capturing all your own audio. However, this is where 2 cameras can come in handy. One gets a feed from the board and the other captures actual audio, that way you can mix in applause, etc.

Hope all of that helps.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 02:24 PM   #3
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Hey Denny take a look at this sticky thread at the top of this section

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=60275

Should have plenty of info you need
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Old May 14th, 2008, 02:29 PM   #4
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Thanks Travis, and I feel your pain, not with Video, but with photography, I have had the same experiences at fairs, proms etc.

I am getting paid $30.00 per DVD and was told to expect to sell about 40. I realize this number could be lower.

I am doing the photography so will be there anyways, but only doing the posed photographs on the background. So during the show I am free to video, this is why I took it on, and to also get some practice and experience.

I live in a rural area of Pa where professional Video is really unheard of I have done a couple weddings and our video request are really starting to come in. People are loving the good quality both video, and audio.

The good thing is I will know before the show, and actually be paid for the DVD's/Photos so will know what to expect. I am also hoping the professional delivery of the DVD's labeled etc, will get a few add on sales.

All that was asked is a straight edit, I talked to the owner of the studio today and asked her how many usually purchased DVD's, she said 40 is the normal. I then told her if there was that much interest I would set up a second camera and as long as sales were good would edit in a second camera in the final edit.

I also will have the advantage of 2 presentations of the same show, so hopefully can key in on different kids on each show.

Thanks again for the insight, and if it is a nightmare, may just be booked next year for this event. :)
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Old May 14th, 2008, 02:39 PM   #5
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Flip side, I did a recital as a "favor", thought I'd be doing a couple dozen DVD's - ended up being asked for nearly 100... was good experience, but I sure would want to firm things up ahead of time!
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Old May 14th, 2008, 09:21 PM   #6
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I too live in a rural area. Been shooting a local dance company's recitals for three years. Three different performances (ballet, competition performance, & all school recital) About 150 different dance pieces. Shot with three cameras, edited, and produced an average of 160 copies.
Same situation ... no opportunity to preview dances. First time to see performances is dress rehearsal on day of performance, while I am setting up and doing sound checks. With no direction or opportunity to learn the choreography, I had to shoot with three cameras to have visual variety.
First year I did this netted me about $5000. Each following year netted less. last year was a bit below $3500, at which point I decided to stop doing the project.

The drop in revenue turned out to be savvy buyers who realized they could copy my work.

Pricing of copies was based upon whether the dance school bought a block order of or made no investment. if I took all risk, I took all revenue. $3500 was my minimum. I could make that or more taking on a wider variety of smaller projects.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 09:25 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Waldemar Winkler View Post
I too live in a rural area. Been shooting a local dance company's recitals for three years. Three different performances (ballet, competition performance, & all school recital) About 150 different dance pieces. Shot with three cameras, edited, and produced an average of 160 copies.
Same situation ... no opportunity to preview dances. First time to see performances is dress rehearsal on day of performance, while I am setting up and doing sound checks. With no direction or opportunity to learn the choreography, I had to shoot with three cameras to have visual variety.
First year I did this netted me about $5000. Each following year netted less. last year was a bit below $3500, at which point I decided to stop doing the project.

The drop in revenue turned out to be savvy buyers who realized they could copy my work.

Pricing of copies was based upon whether the dance school bought a block order of or made no investment. if I took all risk, I took all revenue. $3500 was my minimum. I could make that or more taking on a wider variety of smaller projects.
I still have one small company where I shoot their video ... single camera, no zooms ... just a tight shot of the group regardless of the choreography. I get $25 for the DVD and studio takes the orders and distributes them.

However ... I've run into the exact same situation as noted above ... started out with a company that had three nights of recitals with each night be a bit different. I started when still delivering on VHS and sales were good. Once I went to DVD the sales started dropping until last year ... we had to part ways. It was no longer worth it.

I'm always willing to take on a new client and give it a shot. I don't charge any production fees and it's all on spec. If it goes bad then I just don't return. The one at the end of the month is fun and sales are decent. (We're really rural.)
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Old May 15th, 2008, 09:58 AM   #8
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Thanks for the great replys, I know it wouldnt be easy to do but I have thought about offering a discount at certain sales levels. Wouldnt stop all the coppying, but maybe some of it.

I have been in the photography business long enough to realize you will never stop it, have to include that into your pricing. I will say for the first year in a while Prom Sales held steady, maybe the same will happen in video. There has got to be a point where the quality video and audio is worth enough to keep the videographer from dropping them.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 11:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny Kyser View Post
Thanks for the great replys, I know it wouldnt be easy to do but I have thought about offering a discount at certain sales levels. Wouldnt stop all the coppying, but maybe some of it.

I have been in the photography business long enough to realize you will never stop it, have to include that into your pricing. I will say for the first year in a while Prom Sales held steady, maybe the same will happen in video. There has got to be a point where the quality video and audio is worth enough to keep the videographer from dropping them.
Let us know how it goes.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 12:13 AM   #10
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I just did one in march and the most unexpected thing was their lighting! This was a high school show so they just jammed all their lights on stage and it took a lot of hours to correct it in post.

Used a1's.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 02:24 AM   #11
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If you are going to get into this field you need to do two things. Require a minimum purchase (the recital studio built the cost of the DVD's into the lessons to make my minimums) . Secondly, do a great job in shooting and editing. (See example below)

I have been doing this for 4 years now. Replaced a guy that did a half-assed job. His idea was to shoot from the back with one camera on a wide shot.

The studio was loosing customers (students).

Then, I came along, set a crane off to the side at the front of the theater and a fixed position camera at the rear (both manned).

Over time, you get a feel for how the music and choreography goes and you can get some pretty viewable material.

The parents noticed the change and students are returning in droves.
This year, I grossed over $4500. 4 hours of shooting and about 40hours editing. Next year is projected to be $8000. The studio is having to reserve the theater for an extra weekend to accomodate all of the student's acts.

The video below is without the audio enhansments that the final product received. (we layer the actual cd over the camera audio and leave just enough camera audio th hear the audience.

www.bluestarvideo.com/files/video/danceview.wmv
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:39 AM   #12
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Tom, that's pretty nice for a dance recital video. The crane sure does give it a bit of a "bigger than life" feel. Do you ever have issues with parents who feel their child wasn't on the video enough during a particular dance?
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Old May 21st, 2008, 01:24 PM   #13
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Not at all...they are just glad to get any closeup exposure of thier child. It sure beats looking at tiny indiscernable faces from a camera set too wide.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 03:07 PM   #14
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Denny, another thing you can do to enhanse your product is to do sort of a preshow highlight clip:

www.bluestarvideo.com/files/video/preshow1.wmv

We make one of these for each recital segment. I think the parents like these more than the recital itself.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 08:23 PM   #15
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I have been working with my best mate who only shoots dance eg estedfords, concerts etc. He and a biz partner.
They are flat out all year and make a very good income. They usually shoot with 2 cameras, 1 wide 1 close and mix on the fly. They record straight to a dvd recorder and have pre made Titles on a dvd that they mix before each section so there is no editing and just dub off the master onto the duplicator in the office. Depending on what sort of concert it is they take orders before, on the day or after. They have a minimum order rule for smaller concerts. Orders are shipped within 1-3 weeks.
They don't have much of a problem with people videoing themselves and the few that do probably wouldn't buy a dvd anyway.
Having worked with them I can say that if you can get regular work and do a good job then those rich stage mums wont think twice about spending $40 on their little princesses show after show.
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