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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:46 PM   #1
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Equipment for shooting a dance recital

Scenario:
Hello fellow recital shooters. I am hoping to pick your brain about Equip and tips for shooting dance recitals. We are planning to do a 2 camera shoot for a 4 night recital in late spring. Each night the performances are the same but the cast rotates so each class gets to perform on their own. We want to shoot in HDV, edit HDV, archive blu-ray ready (for future resales) and deliver on DVD.

I have searched the boards and read the articles in Boyd's sticky: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/wedding-e...age-shows.html and have learned a lot from these posts. I will be running the wide camera from the back of the opera house and my 2nd op will be running a close-up (foot to head or extended arm) shot from the side of the lower floor. We will be shooting test shots and behind the scenes during the 3 days of dance rehearsals.

Last year, during the rehearsal, I tested my SONY HD1000U from the side and it did great, my PD170 (unmanned) from the rear was unusable (too wide, no definition, awful exposure.) So I am looking to invest in some new equip for this years run. We will run the HD1000U from the side since it performed well last year but I am on the fence about the rear cam.

Now the Questions:
I am looking at the SONY FX1000 with an XLR adapter or a Z5U. Is anyone shooting with this for live events? What do you think of these?
For monitoring, I am considering a 21.5" acer 1080p LCD computer monitor connected via HDMI hanging on the Delvcam LCD1 vesa mount on stand.
What about communication systems, how important are they?
For delivery I am looking at the Primera Bravo II printer/duplicator, does anyone use this is it worth the investment?

What else do you feel is must have in your eventing/recital kit?

Thanks for your help!
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Old January 19th, 2009, 12:55 AM   #2
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Hi Bryan,

You don't mention what you're doing for sound. For the recitals I do I capture area mics and board feeds into my laptop through a mixer-a/d converter. I also get the soundtrack for each show so I can create a mix that sounds natural as well as clean. I also have a small Sony PCM D-50 I hide at the front of the center of the stage to pick up the dancers for tap numbers. I generally only use the camera audio for synching the cameras.

Another thing that really helps is having someone shoot stills during the performances and both before and after to use as artwork, labels, menus, and photo slide shows or end credits.

I don't generally use communication devices (such radios) during a recital shoot but have been a camera operator during a shoot where the director did use radios. I don't find I need them for my shoots but if it makes you more comfortable I'd say use them

Just some of my opinions,
Garrett
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Old January 19th, 2009, 01:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Daugherty View Post
Now the Questions:
I am looking at the SONY FX1000 with an XLR adapter or a Z5U. Is anyone shooting with this for live events? What do you think of these?
For monitoring, I am considering a 21.5" acer 1080p LCD computer monitor connected via HDMI hanging on the Delvcam LCD1 vesa mount on stand.
What about communication systems, how important are they?
For delivery I am looking at the Primera Bravo II printer/duplicator, does anyone use this is it worth the investment?

What else do you feel is must have in your eventing/recital kit?

Thanks for your help!
Bryan,

Well, as someone who recently shelled out 25.00 for his daughters dance recital DVD, and was not to impressed with it, I can offer some tips on what I thought were important.

I think an effective means of communication is important. I used to cover live events for a cable station, and we had to know who was covering what. So we had a video switcher directing us thru headphones. Of course in your case, you'll be monitoring your stuff on that big dog monitor, but you won't know what your second cameraman is shooting. Where it does help is if one or the other of you is having a problem, the other guy knows to play it safe, or cover for him.

Sound for this kind of thing is huge, so whatever it takes get a nice clean sound with a mix of ambience is important. You only need one cam to record the master audio, so the second cam doesn't need xlr's. As your rover will be stopping and starting and your wide would be recording the entire thing it makes sense, in more ways than one, for the wide cam to record audio. You'll then have to sound sync individual shots to the master in post which would be a bit of a PITA.

I also used to cover live music events with a single cam. It was draining because I could never relax. Sometimes on events like this, where you have two cams, you tend to relax and think 'oh, well, he's got it covered'. The wide cam on the dvd I bought was shakey (more vibration than shake really). The wide camera (even after editing) was caught in bad mid-zooms. I'm assuming it was because the 'rover' had worse footage so they were forced to use the 'less-worse' wide footage.

I think you need a sound (I don't mean audio) strategy going in. Something like; Wide cam find a nice, well composed, well exposed shot, and capture and monitor audio there.

The rover - who would be the best, most experienced operator, must be on glidecam or steadicam (no handheld please), unless it's a solid shoulder mount and the op is very experienced.

If you've got a good team of two, the safe wide, and the well schooled rover, you get should get very good footage even with less than pro gear.

I'd suggest a 3rd cam, but it's just more to edit. You should be fine. Sorry if it sounds like a rant, those were my thoughts on a recently purchased dance recital DVD.

Good luck!
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Old January 19th, 2009, 02:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
...You don't mention what you're doing for sound...I also get the soundtrack for each show so I can create a mix that sounds natural as well as clean...Another thing that really helps is having someone shoot stills during the performances...I don't generally use communication devices (such radios) during a recital shoot but have been a camera operator during a shoot where the director did use radios.
Sorry, that was a glaring oversight on my part. The CU cam will be using either on camera shotgun to record ambient (tap, crowd, etc) or we will use two boom mount shotguns at opposing sides of the room to get a more even stereo effect. The wide camera will be plugged into the board via XLR and I will be asking for a copy of all music in case I need to mix it in post. I didn't include photog info but we have a pro photog who will be taking live action available light stills.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Diewert View Post
Well, as someone who recently shelled out 25.00 for his daughters dance recital DVD, and was not to impressed with it, I can offer some tips on what I thought were important. I think an effective means of communication is important....in your case, you'll be monitoring your stuff on that big dog monitor, but you won't know what your second cameraman is shooting...I'd suggest a 3rd cam, but it's just more to edit. You should be fine. Sorry if it sounds like a rant, those were my thoughts on a recently purchased dance recital DVD.Good luck!
Ken - I completely understand. This is for the studio my daughter dances for and my dissatisfaction with the current offering is how I started getting involved so to speak. After her first year, i went to the manager of the studio and asked some very poignant questions about the quality of the DVD. This last year i could see some improvements in the DVD that came directly from the conversation I had with the office manager, but it still was much less than it could have been. So last year, I shoot the dress rehearsal and created a mock DVD and proposal, established a partnership with a great photo studio to handle portraits and brought in a great photog to take available light stills during the performance.

We are still troubleshooting dual monitoring for the HD1000 (so that he can have full monitoring at his location and I will be able to see both shots) but haven't solved that issue yet. Per the owner of the studio, both cameras will be stationary. So tripod mounted all the way, she also does not want any jibs, steadicams or any other equip to distract attendees from her masterpiece.

I originally was looking at a 5 cam SD shoot with steadicam in the wings, but it became unwieldy for this event and not cost effective. So we went back to the drawing board. After shooting HDV during the rehearsal, i determined that we needed to do this in HDV to do it right. Of course if I had my choice I would be doing it with 5 red cams in 4k with jibs, the steadicam, and a full crew but I had to land on what was cost effective and in everyone's best interest.

So this year we are planning a 2 operator/2 cam HDV tripod mounted shoot with ambient sound on the CU cam and board sound on the rear cam, both cams will run start to stop with staggered tape changes between performance (ie cam1 tape change after 5th number, cam 2 after 6th number, etc.) It may burn a little extra tape but i want full coverage on both cameras. Next year i will probably add the third cam and operator.

As to communication equip, we have been looking at a system by Eartec from B&H, or renting from a local company but the rental ended up costing only $100 less than buying so that was not viable. After reading some of the live performance threads on here, I am now thinking of asking the opera house if we can rent space on their in house com, if they can provide us a dedicated line. but to be honest, i think my second op is good enough to run freestyle but i was wondering what you guys had experienced thus far. Thanks for your input and I look forward to more.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 09:10 AM   #5
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Hi,

If I was to shoot a Recital and budget is of no constraints, I would do this set-up

2- Camera ( 1- Master/1-Roving)- ISO Record
2- HDV Deck Recorder
1- Audio Mixer ( so you can control what’s coming out of the House system)
1- Video Mixer
3- Monitors ( Cam 1, Cam 2, Master)
1- Clearcom System ( 3 headsets)- Communication
1- Person to call the shots
1- Person to record

This may seem a lot but this set-up will save you time in post as the finish product is basically edited and you just need to put in OBB & CBB in post.

My 2 cents.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 09:15 AM   #6
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I did the annual recitals for a prestigious dance school here in Winnipeg for many years and we used almost the same setup that Noel suggests, except we used three cameras, all manned (one wide in the house, two at either edge of the front of stage). In terms of audio, I always asked for music and announce mics on one aux send and barrier tap dance mics on another aux send, recorded to separate channels so I could control the tap "mix" in post.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 02:20 PM   #7
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Noel - I see where you guys are coming from and I respect it. My second op is like minded, he has worked on live broadcast events before with a full broadcast crew. In my experience with other live events, concerts, and presentations I have done unless I am doing IMAG then I would rather edit all in post instead of switching.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel Lising View Post
...If I was to shoot a Recital and budget is of no constraints, I would do this set-up...may seem a lot but this set-up will save you time in post as the finish product is basically edited and you just need to put in OBB & CBB in post.
...for us budget is an issue because this job will generate a set amount of revenue. If I spend more than that than, it was fun playing station manager but no profit. Besides, I have 4-6 weeks to edit and deliver and I want to use that time to tweak the editing to be the best it can be with all the bells and whistles. This method is good for live TV because it has to be done this way, but for DVD, you have the time to go over your footage carefully and make the edits you need. For us, the switch is out. The xlr adapter we use is a field mixer that also can convert xlr to mini out if needed so we will have a good bit of control over the audio level once it gets to us, but not the mix which is fine because the guy running the board is a pro and if we should have music issues, i can dub in post from the source discs. The main issue for the board sound is occasionally troupe members are mic'ed and that can't be recaptured in post(ADR is not an option as most of the troupe scatters over the summer) also if the levels are great than no post audio dubbing will be necessary.

So our set up is: 2 cam-2 Operator (with other investments and op payments that is what I can afford this year.)

Cam 1-HVR HD1000U
CU (foot to head or extended arm-small groupings etc.)
Tripod mounted with boom audio for ambient sound
Monitor for camera to pull focus etc.
Tape changes approx every 50 min between sets

Cam 2 - Model TBD considering FX1000 or Z5 or...?...
Wide or large groupings follow on solos
Tripod mounted with board audio for house sound
Monitor at camera to pull focus
proposed - 2nd monitor to monitor cam 1 shot
Tape changes staggered to one set after cam 1

So back to the OP, this is what I need help with.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Daugherty View Post
Now the Questions:
1. I am looking at the SONY FX1000 with an XLR adapter or a Z5U. Is anyone shooting with this for live events? What do you think of these?
2. For monitoring, I am considering a 21.5" acer 1080p LCD computer monitor connected via HDMI hanging on the Delvcam LCD1 vesa mount on stand.
3. What about communication systems, how important are they?
4. For delivery I am looking at the Primera Bravo II printer/duplicator, does anyone use this is it worth the investment?
5. What else do you feel is must have in your eventing/recital kit?
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Old January 21st, 2009, 11:45 PM   #8
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So i went back to my thread and realize that with the loss of inflection in written vs. spoken word, i may have come off a little sharp. Not looking to ruffle feathers here and very much interested in learning from your shared experience.

I am looking to get total equip cost down to around $6500 or less and about $950 of that includes consumables (tape/DVD-r/cases) and i am paying my second op $1400 to shoot this event. So my profit margin is already slim and doesn't have room for a live switch, HDV decks (originally looked at M15U but it is discontinued-so no dice) and am really on the fence about the Eartec wired intercom. (with 2 headsets and cables it is about $650) The Primera Bravo II is $1600 by itself but to outsource print only for 8 disc versions will be $1056. So what do you guys think? Are we on the right track? Shaun - I noticed you mentioned using barrier mics, I have had good experience with shotgun mics are barrier's even better?

What other equipment should I consider? Thanks for your input!
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 12:01 AM   #9
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Quick side note on monitor

Last year i used my Ikan V8000HD to monitor (during our test run) but found it lacking a little. I think this is due to it being 800x400 res which is why we are looking at using the 21.5 inch Acer Monitor that is truly 1920x1080p with HDMI input. Is this as good an option as it sounds or am I setting myself up for a problem?
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 05:12 PM   #10
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Bryan:

What a painful shoot for the sake of better video. I have done a few and it never paid the costs and pains. But it wasn't really about the money.

The advice I would give is, keep it simple and focus on exposure and sound quality. No fancy moves or roving. Most auditoriums have a center video camera setup area. Put both cameras on tripods there. One camera wide with no movement, concentrate on exposure, manual focus and monitor the audio capture. The second camera to pan and get tight shots from one location. Run both cameras continuous to make the post edit easy.

You really need to focus on creating good sound. A good sound track totally makes an otherwise run-of-the-mill recital video very nice. Spend just as much time equalizing the sound and working on the dynamic range in post as you do the video.

Have fun and keep it simple.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 05:34 PM   #11
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The advice I would give is, keep it simple and focus on exposure and sound quality. No fancy moves or roving. Most auditoriums have a center video camera setup area. Put both cameras on tripods there. One camera wide with no movement, concentrate on exposure, manual focus and monitor the audio capture. The second camera to pan and get tight shots from one location.
Excellent advice and thank you for your post. In this case, the auditorium is a restored building originally built in 1886. Restored in the late 1970's and updated again last fall. Unless they added a video area in the update last fall, this facility doesn't have one. We have to set tripods over theatre seating to make it work. They do close the last 2 rows of seating for us but it is less than ideal for video. This location is over 75ft from the stage front/ orchestra pit so it is not an ideal with stage depth taken into account we are shooting from 75 to 100 ft. I am concerned that we won't be able to get the nice close shots from that distance which is why we were thinking CU cam to the aisle far right of left approx 20 ft back from stage. If we place it at the back do you think we could get the CU shots? When you did this, how far back were you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Kellam View Post
Run both cameras continuous to make the post edit easy.
I agree, it seems to me from other live shoots I have done to be a lot easier to edit with continuous streams and burn a little extra tape, also you never know when you might have an issue with one cam or the other if they are both running then you have a back-up. Right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Kellam View Post
You really need to focus on creating good sound....Have fun and keep it simple.
I agree this is one of the big issues with the former vendor. They actually convinced the studio owner that modern microphones are incapable of recording tap sounds, she told me as much until i showed her the tap sample I recorded at dress last year. What do you think of the proposed audio plan in my earlier post?

K.I.S.- i have seen this advice on many of the live performance threads. Would this apply to Comm systems? They seem like they would really complicate the setup and production. Do you use them in a 2 op environment?

Thanks for your advice!
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Old January 25th, 2009, 11:05 AM   #12
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With a two camera shoot you don't really need radio communication unless you run into technical problems that you don't think you're second camera operator will be able to work out. If it is the wide shot camera that goes you'll want to zoom out with your other camera to capture the group until you can fix the problem.

I did a concert in November that was a 5 camera shoot and no radios. All the cameras were on tripods. The director meet with all of us ahead of time and gave us very clear instructions on what he'd like each of us to shoot and gave us other things he'd like us to look out for. He had previewed demo footage from each of the operators so even though non of us had worked together before he knew what each of us could do. I haven't seen the final edit yet but from what I understand it should be pretty good.

As for audio, if you can swing it, I'd opt not to use the audio recorded onto your cams as they will be pretty compressed since you'll be shooting HDV. The other issue would be sound monitoring and for that you should have a third person checking to make sure levels are ok. I pull area mics (either from the house or my own I set up), center stage pickup, board feed of mains being sent to the house (if available), and the soundtrack all onto separate tracks (left and right channels). Then I remix in post. That gives me the flexibility to either highlight or mask what I want (i.e. enhance taps or attenuate a baby crying).

Also, I wish I could get $1400 as a second cameraman for a show. Even if it's a 4 day show and the operator is there for 6 hours a day it's almost $60 an hour. That's pretty darn good money if he's not providing any equipment.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #13
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Garrett, thank you for your post. Interesting thoughts on the audio. I shot my "demo" with on camera mic in HDV and one of the comments the client made was how much better my audio was than the former videographer's even though they shoot on JVC GY- DV5000 with board feeds only. Perhaps it was the raw live feel of my audio. I will give some thought to this, with all the investing in vid equip and delivery costs, I don't have much room for recorders or an audio engineer, perhaps next yr i can upgrade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
...I wish I could get $1400 as a second cameraman for a show. Even if it's a 4 day show and the operator is there for 6 hours a day it's almost $60 an hour. That's pretty darn good money if he's not providing any equipment.
My second op is someone that has helped me on many other projects but he is a subcontractor. When I first started out, he joined me on several jobs for much less than the local average rate and part of this is paying him back for that. But he is also going to be joining me for 2 days of dress rehearsals (long days) and 2-3 planning sessions with the owner of the studio. All told it will be more like 60-80 hrs between the 4 days of shooting, 2 days of dress, planning sessions with studio owner and meetings he and I will have to plan strategy. So the end result will be more like $17-$23 per hr... and he may be bringing some of his equip to the project like his Miller tripod (for his station), mic booms and c-stands and a few other misc items.

Thanks again for your input!
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Old January 25th, 2009, 03:29 PM   #14
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...As for audio, if you can swing it, I'd opt not to use the audio recorded onto your cams as they will be pretty compressed since you'll be shooting HDV. The other issue would be sound monitoring and for that you should have a third person checking to make sure levels are ok. I pull area mics (either from the house or my own I set up), center stage pickup, board feed of mains being sent to the house (if available), and the soundtrack all onto separate tracks (left and right channels). Then I remix in post. That gives me the flexibility to either highlight or mask what I want (i.e. enhance taps or attenuate a baby crying)...
I forgot something else I wanted to check with you. You mentioned recording audio to your laptop via an A/D converter and capturing multitracks for multisource material. What A/D convertor and software are you using? How much HDD space is this multitrack recording using per hr? Have you ever had this setup fail, if so what precautions need to be in place to make it safer? Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old January 25th, 2009, 04:49 PM   #15
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I use two different A/D units. One is an Alesis 8 channel Firewire mixer. Takes 4 Balanced XLR or 1/4" mic/line level inputs and two stereo line level inputs. All of the gain and equalizer settings are pre-firewire output and the digital effects are post so you won't get them in the Firewire feed. But all 8 channels come out separately so it does what I need. It can output 24bit/48kHz so that's good enough for most of what I record. You'd never mistake it for a Mackie but it is definately good enough for most recordings and it was a lot cheaper.

I also have an Edirol FA-101 that is just an A/D box that takes two Balanced XLR inputs, 6 balanced 1/4" and has a TOS link in and out. It can outputs 24bit up to 192kHz sample rates so the ability to record in a much higher rate is possible. That unit can be powered by a 6 pin Firewire carrying power so it's possible to us it without being near an ac plug.

I usually capture to either Cakewalk or more often just into Vegas 8 (Vegas started off as an audio program so it actually does a great job).

As far as problems I've encountered they have all been due to either inadequate set up time or faulty wires. The biggest issue I faced was when I first started capturing separate audio, I relied on the sound techs at a local school who said they had all the wires. Theirs were less than adequate and I got some extreme noise since the runs were so long. After that I went out and purchased my own good road quality wires. That was a pretty good expense (50' or 100' balanced cost a lot!) but one that gives me piece of mind so it's one less thing to worry about. I also makes sure I make it clear with the client that I'll need at least one hour to set up audio and do sound checks. I make sure they have the sound tech for the show there and ready with the soundtrack and any mics they will be using on and warmed up. That way they know to tell the sound guys that they'll have to spend about an hour extra working with me to get the connections and levels set.

The audio takes about 600MB per track per hour. The last show I did I had L & R Board feeds, L & R Area Mic feeds, and L & R stage mics. There were two performances of two hour shows so about 8 hours total and I used up 10GB on m y laptop. I've got a 500GB drive in my laptop so I have plenty of room. Make sure you have at least 5400 rpm drive or you could risk problems as the drive won't be fast enough to keep up with several channels of audio at once.

I'm a redundancy nut so I always have good mics also going into my cameras in case something fails but I haven't had that happen yet (knock on wood).

Considering that your second camera operator will be putting in 60-80 hours makes the rate seem more in line with what I'm use to. I was wondering if I was way low when I did freelance work.
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