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


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Old January 1st, 2009, 01:16 PM   #1
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Help shooting concert! (first shoot)

Hello, I'm brand new to the world of professional video. I'm also turning seventeen in two months. I've been making short movies with my friends using small consumer cameras, my last camera was the Sony HDV HC5, since I was seven. I've been saving up and I just got a Canon XH A1 and absolutely love it. I just shot some test footage in the Bahamas.

Anyways, in about a week I'm going to be doing my first 'official' shoot with the camera. My friends are going to be playing a show in my high school auditorium and I'm planning on filming it so I can later use some footage for a music video and also may put the entire concert (it's five bands all together playing) together.

I was just wondering how the best way to film this was and am looking for lots of input as I want it to be the best possible footage.

What's the best place to keep the camera, back of the auditorium? I have a decent tripod I can use to follow the action.

They'll be soundchecking one song, my friend's band (and it would be the song I'd use for the music video). I figured I'd do one static take and then go handheld for the other portion?

Also I'd be able to use my Sony HC5 and possibly an HV30 as well. Worth it to bother?

Shoot in 24f? Best custom preset?


And the one other thing is audio...
What would I need to plug into the auditorium's sound system, since it would most indefinitely be better than the on-board mic.

Also, happy new year! (It was a lot of questions, but I'm looking to learn! All input is encouraged! Thank ya)
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Old January 1st, 2009, 04:43 PM   #2
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...

And the one other thing is audio...
What would I need to plug into the auditorium's sound system, since it would most indefinitely be better than the on-board mic.

Also, happy new year! (It was a lot of questions, but I'm looking to learn! All input is encouraged! Thank ya)
I'll defer your other questions to others but regarding using the house sound, remember that it is going to be mixed to sound right to the audience which most of the time is totally wrong for stereo recording. They might not even mic all the instruments. The house soundy is also going to be riding gain throughout the show which will also affect your feed. It can be done, but requires careful coordination with the house sound and setting up aux buses on the board independent of the house feed, and so forth, which may not even be possible on their equipment. Depending on the physical layout of the venue and how many options it gives you in setting up mics, it might be better to set up a stereo pair front-row center so you're hearing what the audience hears and forget about tapping into the board. You're definitely right that it would be better than the on-board mic, though. About the only thing that is good for is audience reactions. I've seen one video where someone tried to use the on-board from a back-of-the-room camera position and the audience clapping and conversation from the back few rows was clearer in the tape than a bloody drumline and bugle corps on the stage, would you believe! Sounds like you're already well beyond that stage in developing your professional judgement - good on ya.

What is needed to do it, if you want to explore that route, depends on what equipment they have and how well you can get along with the live-sound mixer. Your first order of business is a site survey to see what you have to work with, where you might tap into the board - what outputs options it has and the levels it sends, and to get to know the guy who's going to be running it that evening.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 08:13 PM   #3
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Very interesting, Thanks for the reply! I guess I'll have to check out the auditorium on Monday. I wish I gave myself a little more prep time, the concert's in seven days. One other thing...

I do eventually plan to get myself a nice external mic, I just don't have several hundred of dollars to spend at the moment. I'm wondering if maybe the Zoom H2 would be a good investment and setting it up on the stage (although sync-ing it back up in post will indefinitely be a bitch)? Anyone have any personal experience with it?
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Old January 1st, 2009, 09:24 PM   #4
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If you have a cheap mic..

or if the school has a mic for the MC, I would use it and take a separate feed from the sound board. You could then blend the 2 feeds and bring up the crowd noise when needed. This would give you a little control in post. Using the boards auxiliaries would be ideal, however, most highschool auditoriums are going to have smaller sound boards with probably 2 aux's. Perhaps they have a better system than most. If so, definitely carry some headphones and try to set your aux mix on their first soundcheck...get your level set then..

I would shoot with all the cameras you have available to you, leaving their mics on as well. If they are placed across the auditorium you can pick up some sound from them and bring it in to the mix. Be sure to bring a flash camera, get all camera's running and then set off a couple of flashes that would be visible to all cameras at the same time. This will help sync the footage. The more footage and mics you have running, the better your chances of having useful footage/sound, provided you have enough people to run the equipment.

My experience with MP3 recorders( my band uses them to capture jam sessions for writing purposes) is that if you are in loud venue, or are directly in front of a speaker, you are going to clip the signal and render it less useful, if not useless, compared to soundboard feed/ camera mics. Set it out in the audience vs. 3 or 4 feet away from a main cab.

Just my 2 cents...

Mike Watkins

You can also eq some of the crowd noise out of the ambient mics on the camera.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 04:26 PM   #5
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Hey, I have filmed alot of live concerts thoughout the years. 1 thing I have learned is to not rely on the sound board/sound guy!! I have had them turn up in the middle of the set, I ave had them totally take away my mix, I have had them try to charge me to plug in my XLR to their board. Either way I would gather as many sound sources as possible. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF A LIVE CONCERT IS THE AUDIO!!!! I have had excellent video with BAD audio and guess what.... Then the whole video is BAD!!! Take it seriously. I try to have the band hire a guy I work with that will capture all the audio channels into his pro tools and then he will mix it separately from the room. This is ideal BUT will still sound "hollow" if not mixed right with some cam or room mics. I have actually found that my Zoom H2 picks up some GREAT sound!!!! I find that the wider back mics on medium gain at about 70-75%, in the back of the venue will be good for most loud venues(just my experience, still experiment yourself!!) But the H2 with a sound board recording may be what u r looking for!!!
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Old January 4th, 2009, 06:53 PM   #6
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Thank you all for the feedback! Much appreciated! I'll be back in school tomorrow so I'll spend some time scouting out what's gonna be available to me.
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Old January 30th, 2009, 09:51 AM   #7
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I'm in a similar position as Jeff, except I have an XH-A1s and a Rode Videomic and I'm old enough to be his grandfather!

Last Sunday I shot a live piano recital with just the Rode Videomic and I'm amazed by how good it is compared to the built-in mic.

Tomorrow I'm planning to run some other tests at a small church gospel concert where single musicians use live mics and pre-recorded tracks that are mixed by a sound-board guy. I'm planning to take a feed from the sound board to one channel and use the Rode Videomic on the other and possibly also record off the sound board into Protools as a learning experience!

PM's invited if you are curious about results, etc.

Dave Nuttall
San Antonio, TX
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 03:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jeff Stern View Post
Very interesting, Thanks for the reply! I guess I'll have to check out the auditorium on Monday. I wish I gave myself a little more prep time, the concert's in seven days. One other thing...

I do eventually plan to get myself a nice external mic, I just don't have several hundred of dollars to spend at the moment. I'm wondering if maybe the Zoom H2 would be a good investment and setting it up on the stage (although sync-ing it back up in post will indefinitely be a bitch)? Anyone have any personal experience with it?
When it comes to filming live music, u really need to make sure you get the best audio possible, u could get the kick ass footage, but have sh!t for audio and it will render that footage basically useless (unless u are just using it for cutaways in a music video).

To get the best audio possible, u need to have a static (meaning stationary, not static sounding, ahah) audio recording seperate from that which your on camera mic is recording, that you can sync up with in post. U can use the outs from the soundboard, but as mentioned earlier most of the time in a small venue it will be all vocals and kick drum, also you will be able to hear the fader rides and eq/gain adjustments depending on how the board is set up. so it's best not to depend on that..trust me.

If you depend soley on the camera mic u will not be pleased either, it's good to have at least 2 audio sources!! if you're moving around the venue alot with the camera, the audio from the on camera mic will change in tone/dynamics as you move to different parts of the room and will wind up sounding like crap, although it's great to have the on camera sound in post to mix with your static audio.

Here's an example I shot and recorded last weekend:

RinTraH - "Habla Espanol" Live at Wall Street 01.23.09. on Vimeo

was more involved in recording the audio, but had my camera set up as well and got some shots

I mixed the sound from my on camera rode videomic with that from my mobile recording setup consisting of a stereo pair of AKG C-1000's, going through a 2-channel Art tube preamp, a tascam usb interface and into my macbook running Logic Pro 8, set up right by the soundboard...usually the best spot in the room for listening. not the best recording, but still got very satisfying and consistent results from it. It doesn't need to be that extravagant..a zoom h2 set up in the right place would work fine..actually Tascam just came out with the DR-1, which I believe is a bit cheaper and got good reviews.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 06:36 AM   #9
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One thing I would throw in on the video end is record some close-ups during rehearsals the day of the shoot as a safety especially if you are using only 1 camera. This way if you get out of position too bad then you always have something to go to. Of course this assumes that they rehearse with a similar lighting scheme. It would be best to have some other static camera as a safety as well.
On the audio end, I would have a buddy watch the levels on whatever external recorder you choose and don't use the AGC (auto gain control).
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Old February 4th, 2009, 07:35 AM   #10
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To get the best audio possible, u need to have a static (meaning stationary, not static sounding, ahah) audio recording seperate from that which your on camera mic is recording, that you can sync up with in post. U can use the outs from the soundboard, but as mentioned earlier most of the time in a small venue it will be all vocals and kick drum, also you will be able to hear the fader rides and eq/gain adjustments depending on how the board is set up. so it's best not to depend on that..trust me.
I'm in a learning mode, but plan to connect a Digidesign 003+, a couple pairs of Rode NT5s to ProTools in parallel to recording with soundboard output into my new XH-A1s, but it is a trial and error process for me, so no examples or best-practices exist (YET!) from my limited experience!
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Old February 4th, 2009, 09:04 AM   #11
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Jonathan, that is a great call, u can use those close-ups for cut-aways for situations like u said..even if lighting is not the same, u can always try to correct in post or slap some other kind of filter on, be creative...always good to have second camera too if possible! good advice.

Dave,
Sounds like you got a good recipe for success there..NT5's are great..I don't see why you'd need more than one stereo pair though for a small venue tho..
sound from the board is not always the best (depends on the sound guy, board and his mix) but usually helps in combination this the stereo mics.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 11:19 AM   #12
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Dave...Sounds like you got a good recipe for success there..NT5's are great..I don't see why you'd need more than one stereo pair though for a small venue tho..sound from the board is not always the best (depends on the sound guy, board and his mix) but usually helps in combination this the stereo mics.
Thanks for the feedback, Brendan. This particular event (and many in the future) are small-time southern gospel types who rely on pre-recorded "tracks" for accompaniment. I anticipate that recording these guys "live" will be less than "stellar" unless I can figure out a way to sample the live mic and the CD accompaniment BEFORE it gets mixed for the venue's PA system. The fellow I recorded last Saturday had a Sennheiser wireless system but I didn't think fast enough to determine if I could sample the mic before it hit the soundboard. Fortunately, the association of performers WANTS some kind of excellent outcome so I'm confident they will work with me towards our mutual goals.

And I have a LOT to learn with regard to camera presets for the typical medium lighting conditions. I'm looking into using a posting by Randy Parado with what he named "PFVision" preset for low-light conditions.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 12:45 PM   #13
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dave,
the ideal setup, if u had enough inputs that is, would be to take a line out of each individual channel of the board(pre-fader_eq, etc.) and run into your interface(s). then u would have unmixed audio of all channels on seperate channels that you could control and edit individually in post, and in addition, have your stereo mics to capture the ambient room audio. now that would probably require a second firewire audio interface and possibly a faster computer to handle all the simultaneous channels, not sure what your working with at the moment.

cool, I was checking out that PFVision article and watched some samples..looks awesome, now to get my hands on an XH-A1 ahah
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Old February 4th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #14
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Borrow an extra camera and stick it on wide, at the back of the stage facing the audience. This is a good alternative to a second proper camera. You won't use it much, but it can cover the cock-ups - when something happens and you need to zoom in. With one camera, you need to always do slow zooms to change the image - as it will get boring very quckly. With a front facing camera, you have few sync worries - and you can do fast zooms and reframes, covering the zoom on the main camera.

Sound wise, people are telling you sensible stuff - the live mix, while always better than the on-camera mic, may not have everything in it. Often drums, on stage are too loud - so the person mixing doesn't need much from them in the house mix. This leaves you with missing instruments. A recording of the desk output, plus the camera mic gives a useful balance. Sync isn't anywhere near the issue you might think. if the music goes de-de-de-BLAM - that moment is visually obvious on the time line and you can do the sync visually - same thing when you have multiple cameras. There's always a big drum hit that can be found and used as a sync point, so don't worry about that.

This is the kind of thing we do all the time, and the technique depends on the clients budget. If there is money, then we have people. I put more importance on people than gadgets and tricks. If there is a house mixing desk, we have a 24track recorder that patches into it very quickly, and we can mix it properly back at base. Each camera records room sound on one channel, and sometimes we use a receiver on each one into the optjer channel, and feed that with an output from the sound mixer - via an in-ear transmitter. This works rather well. Sometimes if the band uses in ear mixes, then you can 'sniff' that if what they get is a nice balanced mix. Worst of all is just room sound, but that can be good sometimes - however, be wary of the really loud gigs. When the volume is really high, your ears have a built in compressor and you lose your ability to detect distortion. Sometimes I've shot things with what I expected would be pretty decent sound to find that the camera has recorded quality sound from some sources, but maybe a guitar is badly out of tune, or one source is badly distorted, and I just didn't notice!

If this is a one-off, you need (as we say here) belt and braces, just in case.
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Old February 8th, 2009, 03:51 PM   #15
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My First music video

I know this needs a litttle work, I shot it with 2 cameras Panasonic gs120 and Panasonic gs70 and a road video mic and overdubed the original cd track

YouTube - Acoustic Truth Music Video
please give it 20-30 seconds to start
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