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


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Old April 8th, 2005, 12:00 PM   #1
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Three-camera recipe for headaches?

We're planning on shooting a music-related event with three cameras. Two options are being discussed:

OPTION 1 -- Videotape the event using three cameras that feed to some kind of mixing unit and have a director call shots and the result is a nearly complete product. If required later, an occasional insert is added from the three individual tapes.

OPTION 2 -- Videotape the event using three cameras and then sync the footage during editing and handle it all then.

We're leaning toward OPTION 2, since it obviously requires less cost up front and we'll have no trouble scaring up people with GL2, VX1000, XL1 and similar camcorders.

What worries me is that this could involve a lot of post-production time -- and that there's no guarantee that absolute sync will be maintained among the three camcorders' output.

I probably wouldn't be the one editing this if we go with OPTION 2, but my limited experience with trying to sync just two cameras shooting in this manner has been pretty frustrating.

Any thoughts pro or con on these options would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Leigh
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Old April 8th, 2005, 12:08 PM   #2
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I don't know about FCP but I do 2 and 3 and even 4 camera shoots all the time and have no problem syncing the footage in post and keeping it that way.

To sync, find a point or make a point-flash going off or a clapper- and sync all your footage off that. You should be able to "lock" it together, mark your edit points and have at it.

I've also done live cuts and honestly unless I absolutely have to I prefer to cut in post-here's why. What if I change my mind or we didn't make the cut at exactly where it should be or something goes wrong?
Don't get me wrong, there a plenty of good reasons for doing a live cut and it is a hugh time saver but I think if it were me doing what you're going to do, I think I'd shoot it and cut it in post.
Just my $.03 worth (increase due to inflation)

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Old April 8th, 2005, 12:20 PM   #3
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Another option is a combination of both methods.

I am not sure if it is applicable not knowing the exact type of musical performance you are recording.

I think it was Frank Bella who used to specialize in multiple camera recording of weddings using analog cameras.

He would set up communications with all the camera operators and have a dedicated feed of each of the cameras for the director to monitor. They did not live switch the cameras to tape but the director called the shots for the camera ops and his direction was recorded to tape.

In the edit room they would sync up all the isolated video from each camera and then mix it to the master using the audio of the director as a reference. This method was especially useful for framing of dramatic dissolves or picture in picture effects. If I recall correctly they used a programmable Sony video switcher to program the edits, should be much easier to do with the nle system.

We do multiple camera edits syncing each clip on the timeline, the only time sync becomes an issue is if any of the tapes have a dropout.

Hope this helps.
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Old April 8th, 2005, 04:33 PM   #4
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Thanks for info, guys -- sounds like synching in post is the way to go.

Is there an easy way to learn how to do this? I'm using Final Cut Express HD and am comfortable with doing inserts and manipulating the audio tracks, but haven't been able to find a tutorial on this.

Leigh
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Old April 8th, 2005, 04:51 PM   #5
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Sync'ing is fairly simple-as I stated before- the important thing is to have a reference point to sync to.

Before you start taping either set off a FLASH OR a clapper board or something that ALL cameras can SEE and or HEAR. Both is nice.
Now you've got a point of reference.
After you load up the footage of ALL 3 cams, place them on different timelines one over the other, try to place them in as close proximity as possible to the reference point and once you have found the reference point on the 1st timeline, then place a marker there and move to the 2nd timeline, move the footage back and forth to get it lined up on the marker and so on with the 3rd timeline ETC. It will help a lot if you can adjust the size of each track so you can see them all at the same time in your preview screen. Again, I'm not familar with FCP but in Vegas it's very simple to do.
Befroe you start cutting make sure ALL 3 tracks are lined up relative to the reference point. Its a lot easier to do than explain but I'm sure you get the point.
Have fun,
Don
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Old April 8th, 2005, 04:53 PM   #6
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I'll second what Don said. the other advantage to this, is the less chance of getting the right shot when switching. Say cam 1 has the better shot, if the switcher is on cam 2 or 3, you miss it. You can always pick and choose in post easier. In my experience anyways, but then, I've never really done any switching myself.

I use Premiere, and line the tracks up, one on top of the other, and use both visual and audio to find landmarks on all tracks. After a bit of nudging, I just choose which cam footage I want, and cut away the rest. This way, all tracks stay in sync... in theory. I have noticed there is the occasional audio drift, mostly when capturing long clips.
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Old April 8th, 2005, 05:03 PM   #7
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Be cautious when recording that not all cameras are moving at the same time so that you do have a shot to edit to in post, or have a static camera set up.

When recording weddings we do not use any type of headsets for communication. It amazes me how there is always one or two times during a ceremony when the two camera operators are varying the shot leaving only the third cya camera angle.
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Old April 8th, 2005, 05:16 PM   #8
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When all else fails, it never hurts to have a stationary wide shot camera. There is almost always someone walking in front of one of the cams. They almost always stand there, stare at the cam for a moment, then shrug, duck down 2 inches, and shrug like an idiot in appology. If the other cam is zooming or focusing at that same moment, you will still have a safe shot to use.
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Old April 8th, 2005, 05:58 PM   #9
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If you do a live mix with three cameras and use either the s-video or composite video as the means to get the signal to a video switcher, INSURE that the switcher has TBC (time base correcting) circuitry on all inputs. This is because you are assured the actual timing of each camera will not be in perfect synchronization with any of the others. None of the cameras you mention have the capability of being Gen-locked, that is, having the scans of all cameras electronically locked in perfect unison. If you do not have access to a switcher with the TBC circuitry, your only option is #2, to sync in post.

It is a bit difficult to find a switcher without TBC circuitry these days, but not all of the switchers have good TBC circuits.
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Old April 8th, 2005, 06:06 PM   #10
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All previous replies indicate:

...that multi cam at post is the way to fry this fish.
But the O.P. left out the most important thing! This is a "music related event".

So if that means a cover band at a pub or a dance competition or a piano recital, the bottom line is this: No individual performance will exceed 5 minutes. This makes re-syncing a breeze. Unless it's a Baroch expo. There will be plenty of room for flexibility at edit when you can toss in non-synchronous cut-aways to keep the flavour if you are not dipping to black.

And one last thing: The audio track is more important than the video for this kind of capture. Spend your rehearsal fussing the details with headphones on. Once the cams are W/B, focussed and framed, the rest is all audio.
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Old April 8th, 2005, 09:16 PM   #11
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I'de suggest using livecut. It has a similiar interface to FCP and exports a timeline to FCP. It allows four track synchronized multi camera viewing and editing. It really optimizes your effeciency with this kind of thing. It is also free.

From there website.
Live Cut is used as a preprocessor for Apple's Final Cut Pro. A standard procedure would be as follows:

1.Shoot your event with up to 4 cameras
2.Capture your footage in Final Cut Pro
3.Synchronize your tracks in Live Cut
4.Let it roll! Watch all your sources in realtime and cut between them on the fly
5.Fine tune your edits in Live Cut's timeline, if necessary
6.Export your timeline to Final Cut Pro
7.Add transitions, effects, inserts and titles...
8.Burn

http://livecut.sourceforge.net/
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Old April 8th, 2005, 10:45 PM   #12
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Aside from all pro and cons advanced already:
I have done about 8 concerts: min 2 max 5 cameras (average 90min)
All edited in post (Premiere and not a problem keeping all five in sink- used as guide the sound waves themselves to line them up- let's not forget that most edited shots are between 3 to 15 seconds and each performance averages 5 min), however, on the last one (3 cameras), I used a video mixer and got the signal wireless from two cameras (one was s- cabled and usually wide for general coverage unless otherwise requested and the other two hunting "beauty shoots") I did the switching between all three (and had a wireless walkie-talkie to one operator to ask for specific shoots, (it would have been nice to have three of those, but...that's life) All this trouble to get the image on a big screen (up on the stage) for the audience. They enjoyed the music as well as seeing the conductor from the front (during performances) and other CU of performers. Needless to say, the post-edited version was different from the choices I made at the time of the event. Happy to have it all on tape. (my 0.4 CDN- currency converter)
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