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

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Old July 28th, 2009, 12:06 PM   #16
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I'm not sure I'd have either camera be the roving one in a traditional sense. Square dancing has a lot of movement in it and a moving camera would just give your audience a headache. Whichever camera resolves best should be the static wide shot -- I'm guessing that would be the Canon -- and while you can move the Sony to get different shots using a dolly, I wouldn't use the actual tape while the camera is moving to get the various close-ups.

And I would in fact have the static wide shot from a slightly elevated position, not level with the dancers, to get a better sense of depth and motion.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old July 28th, 2009, 10:39 PM   #17
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I must say I disagree with one thing that's been mentioned here.

I've been doing dance concerts for 15 years, and have NEVER locked off a camera on a wide shot.

If they want a 1 camera shoot, then it's $X amount per copy for (X minimum) number of copies.
If they want two camera shoot, then they get close - ups as well for $Y per copy for(X minimum) number of copies., and I hire a second cameraman to man the camera (usually my son).
Even doing the wide shot camera for 15 years, my wide shot always consists of the extremeties of the people on stage, (all arms and legs), I find it extremely tiring, as sometimes you have one person on stage, sometimes 6 people on stage, and sometimes obviously 60 or more, so I am always modifying my shot for iris and zoom to maintain the integrity of my wide shot.

I cannot comprehend how you could lock a camera off on a stage and charge any business for that footage.

Maybe that's why we're so busy. Certainly I agree with everthing else that's been said about colour balance and matching cameras. We shoot with two EX 1's and that makes mixing and matching a lot easier using identical picture profiles in both cameras, and preset white balance usually at around 3600K.

Just my 2 cents....

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Old July 28th, 2009, 10:52 PM   #18
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The static shot and the Edirol are really good ideas. If you can get a CD of the music, even better--good music, clear recording of the caller. Since you only have the one square, then maybe head-high or a tad higher would be OK, to get the whole square in the shot.

For the rover, well, sometimes I'd like to rove, but most times, if I'm close enough to the stage, I'll have the 2nd camera back by the master, and zoom in, or up close on a tripod but off to one side. It depends on the requirements of the live audience--most of my shoots, I can't be down by the stage getting closeups due to the live audience, and moving is generally frowned upon. *shrug* one does what one can. If the audience is not a concern, then move around at will, taking care to stay out of the master shot. I think a Steadycam arrangement would be easier and quicker to move than a dolly, especially going behind a curtain.

The spring form floor is going to be a HUGE pain--if at all possible, make sure your static cam is NOT on that thing!!! If you can't arrange that, put a huge wide circle (ropes or whatever) around it--people clumping around will definitely shake the tripod!

Watch some square dance videos, too, for a feel of how to shoot the genre. My forte is middle eastern/oriental, which has a totally different shot than, say, ballet, most times (and definitely different than square dance!!).

Oh, and watch some square dance videos! (as much to see what you DON'T like as what you do like).

good luck. If it's a short enough clip (e.g., promo), then you should be able to get plenty of footage to put together a nice video.

Doncha love the volunteer not-for-profit donations of your time and talent!! all for a good cause, though, right?

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Old July 28th, 2009, 10:58 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Vaughan Wood View Post
I cannot comprehend how you could lock a camera off on a stage and charge any business for that footage.
You're right, of course, but for something like Annie is doing, she's doing for free because she's part of the organization. They'll get what she can give, and I'm sure she'll give the best she can. In a situation like that, unless you can find a competent person to man the master camera, locking off if the best option. Plus, it's a square dance of a single square, so the locking-off should be safe enough, if a tad monotonous.

Otherwise, I agree with you 100%. Yet people still pay for that kind of stuff--blows my mind!

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Old July 29th, 2009, 06:11 AM   #20
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Thank you all for your advice

When I said a roving camera, I meant that I would be filming from different spots, not that I would be moving while filming.

I have looked at some square dance videos on YouTube and Vimeo, and mostly I don't like what I've seen. Several were, I think, shot on mobile phones with the "cameraman" wandering about. Most were single camera continuous shots. Two obviously did use a crane and one managed an overhead shot. Only one actually edited some close-ups into the sequence. In several of the Youtube ones, the music was not in time with the dancers. No-one bothered about the background, and sometimes even static tripod (or similar) shots were not level.

So what I think I'll do:
1) put the Canon on the big tripod, locked off for a continuous shoot at wide angle.
2) have the Sony on a lightweight tripod, mostly, so I can get some tighter shots, particularly of the caller and some formations, at a slightly different angle to the Canon, but still facing the same general direction (ie not crossing the line).
3) video several dances, perhaps changing the angles slightly
4) do one with all the squares on the floor (with luck we get three or four squares if all last year's beginners are dancing).
5) I'll be very daring (for me) and try to "interview" a few people to see what they think of square dancing
6) try to remember to get a few "audience" shots
7) ask the caller to finish one dance with a specific sequence so the dancers end up facing the camera.

If all goes well, I might even get to join in the dancing at some time!
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Old July 29th, 2009, 11:24 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Vaughan Wood View Post
I cannot comprehend how you could lock a camera off on a stage and charge any business for that footage.
Yet many people do, and that's what makes it hard for all of us to show clients there is a better way.

We shoot with four cams, so the wide shot is there for insurance when my other three shooters screw up or are all moving or changing tapes at once. This shot usually makes up no more than 1% of finished footage.

Most clients are used to only the wide static shot, so it takes a lot of convincing to show them that it's really best to use it minimally if at all. Choreographers are especially in love with it because they want to see how all the people are moving about on the stage continuously, and don't see any value in the medium shots and close-ups.

But obviously if you are one shooter operating many cams, one will need to be locked off at some point while you are fiddling with others.
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Old July 29th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #22
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Actually, with group dance, the dancers OFTEN want a locked off shot so that you can see what the ensemble is doing, which is counterintuitive to my way of producing multicamera live switched.

OK, it shouldn't be TRULY locked off: one should pan and zoom to keep the entire group in frame and not make it look like it was shot from the international space station, nor should anyone disappear off screen but this is the SINGLE reason I stopped doing dance recitals: I couldn't fathom not doing face paced cuts on jazz or modern dance numbers and couldn't change my switching style or the shooting style of my operators enough to make my client TRULY happy.
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Old July 29th, 2009, 02:35 PM   #23
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There are a number of good points being made, but the conflicts are basically quite simple to sort out, but do need to be teased into different categories.

I am involved with dance in a number of ways.

I shoot dance shows
I visit schools and colleges as an examiner for a major examination board
I am a Theatrical Lighting Designer

What nobody has asked is the purpose of the video recording.

Dance, as an art form needs artistic shooting and editing.
Dance, as an examination needs decent overall light levels and a recording that enables each participant to be identified and their contribution verified and analysed.
Dance as an educational or dance school product needs to look good, and allow each parent to identify their own child, not miss any back-line contribution, and be fair in the amount of coverage of each individual dancer.

As the Lighting Designer - one very important steer I need is am I designing for the audience, or the video. I cannot do both properly. If I am lighting for the people in the theatre, then asking me to provide extra white light by the video crew will result in a simple no. I cannot compromise my key objective just to give the video people bland, white, bright light. If, however, the brief is to provide what the video guys need, then I'll light nice and bright, making sure faces are lit, and then lay colour over the top. In the room, it will look poo, but I have to live with it. If, as often happens, the organiser wants both - then both happen, but are both compromised to some degree. In these cases, the lighting designer/operator MUST have a monitor so they can fill in places the camera thinks is not lit, and control highlights - especially if follow spots are being used - these simply kill video cameras when running wide open.

My own experience is sadly that the video people blame the lighting people for not being prepared or being awkward. They turn up late, then ask for adjustments that have not been rehearsed. Very few even bother to ask lights or sound for a nod when the house lights are about to go down. I always smile when I see the red light come on 5 seconds after the show has started!

For dance work that has to be examined or graded, then art tends to go out of the window - it's body form, technique and style that is important. Me - I rather like fluorescent light in a dance studio setting for this.

Lyrical and jazz cause me more grief as a video person, because they want saturated colour, shadows and stylistic qualities that need advance planning. Ballet, because of numbers, and travel means lighting is usually brighter and even.

Technical Issues
White balance - me, I like the advice above, use the preset settings, usually 3200 for theatres - unless they have the majority of light sources from moving head fixtures, when I'll go up to a daylight setting, as the things look far too blue otherwise. There is very little point attempting to use a card - which would have to be on stage, and huge if it is going to fill the frame from the rear camera(s). On top of this, it's quite common for theatre sto have a mix of lamp types in their instruments(US)Lanterns(UK) or luminaires (EU). As an example, it's quite possible to have some that are 2700-3000 CT alongside others 3200ish, and a few discharges up in the 5000s - and now we have LED fixtures too, that have very odd colour rendition - so which particular white source is landing on the card? Move a few feet and it will change. Don't forget coloured stage floors can also severly impact on colour temp - polished wooden floors are very yellow/orange.

Auto focus, as said is a no-no. In daylight it's rubbish, but many cameras react very badly to solid blue or red light, sending autofocus mad!

4:3 or 16:9? Dance is perfect source material for 16:9. There is rarely much above head height, but plenty left to right.

Unpredicted Problems

Close in/pit cameras.

Great arty shots but be VERY careful with school/young peoples dance. When I'm asked to do this kind of shot it does produce some great images, but be prepared to not be able to use all of them. Modesty issues - up skirt images may not be what the viewers want to see, and I have had occasion to specifically mention the problem to the dance teachers/organisers who often don't realise what the pictures will contain.

You also need to have a quiet word with the organiser to see if there are any 'problem' dancers. I've shot dance groups where one girl has had an amputation, and if you know, it's possible to feature these people so as not to draw attention to their problems. Same thing with too thin/too fat people. You have to know these things and be able to deal with it in the way the organiser wishes. I've been told to be careful of the really fat girl - because she is sensitive to how she looks. Once you know, you can make sure you frame her in a sensitive manner - same thing with skinny people who may be recovering anorexics. Sadly you may need to back off closeups on people with poor complexions. As a lighting designer, for dance I use quite a lot of what are called cosmetic colours. These are usually pinks, blues and peachy colours that are also diffused - these work really well to reduce the humps and bumps of a zit filled face, or even the scaring from illnesses that leave scab damage.

Room sound always sound horrible, but very often the CDs or MDs get left behind. The video people should take them, copy if necessary, and use these as the basis for the edit - then you get stereo, and the crowd noise laid over the top. If you do this, it's an alternative to taking an uncontrolled feed from the sound desk - this and room sound split across 2 channels works ok, but isn't as good as the original track they played.

The scope of dance video styles is huge - but before starting, you must find out what they are going to do with the finished product - sell to the kids, use as evidence, or stick on the shelf as history!
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