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Old October 23rd, 2009, 11:45 AM   #1
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Headset communication when filming bands ?

I have been trying to improve my filming of live bands.. One thing ive noticed when editing is often 4 cameras will all be doing a similar thing and its hard to get a decent edit when the same shot exists everywhere..

I was wondering if anyone thinks it would be practical to try and get wireless headsets going between the 4 camera people and some sort of communication systems so everyone can get a voice alert of where someone has their focus at any particular time..

In other words, everyone could hear everyone through the headphones and maybe say your name and then something like zoom on guitarsit fretboard etc... Or would that just become a clutter mess of people all trying to be heard at once ?

If anyone has any other tips on how we can improve something like this id love to hear about it.. Sometimes we all film different things and it makes it so much easier to be creative in the edit..

The only thing i dont want to do is tell each guy how to film because if (for example) the front camera is restricted to wider shots and the closer cameras are only the tight shots it creates a feel where every song has the same kinda vibe.. I like to keep all the cameras freedom but just hopefully get it so we arent all doing the same thing at the same time...
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 07:32 PM   #2
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I'm sure that radios would help, but only after you do the basics. In your pre-production meeting, figure out who's going to shoot what. Cam 1 is tight on the front of the stage. Camera 2 tight on the drummer. Camera three works a sight line between keyboards and drums. Camera 4 stays loose. Now things won't stay that way but if everyone knows their patch, you'll get less duplication. You'll also have coverage if the action suddenly shifts to the opposite end of the stage. I learned this in a 3 camera shoot of an important motor race on a 1 mile track. Lots of real estate to cover.

What would really help your radio setup would be a director to direct traffic. This would be optimal if he was looking at four live shots but even without it could help.

Others with more experience might have some more salient advice, but that's what I know.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 12:54 AM   #3
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Hi Tripp

Thanks for your help.. I appreciate what you are saying, especially in regards to the director thing but it would be hard to implement that at the level we are operating.. If it could work on some sort of simple voice system between each cameraman without getting messy its something id be keen to try.. The only thing im thinking is if you are zooming around a lot and everyone was trying to communicate their shot to everyone else it could get messy very quickly.. You need lots of movement with live music i find, if the cameras are still or very slow with the zooms and pans it often misses the feel of the songs.. You have to kind of move in time with the music..

I would like to try and maintain the freedom of the cameras as much as i can too, but i know its probably best to get some basic guidelines for each angle at the start..

The times where we have had 4 cameras going and everyone is moving freely but filming different spots at different times has been really great.. Those edits look like there are 10 cameras rather than 4, if i could get that happening each time id be laughing..

Id love to hear from anyone else who has any experience in anything like this.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 02:38 AM   #4
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I had the same thought when filming an event.
If anyone has experience of using headsets with multicamera filming I'd be really interested to hear about it too.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 03:58 AM   #5
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You can hire full talkback systems for this type of shoot, one thing to bear in mind though is the levels that are present from the PA systems so tight fitting enclosed headphones are required.

I have done may concerts but mainly with full outside broadcast vans so there has been a full comms system available but the camera hire places should have wireless systems available.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 06:43 AM   #6
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Gary... When you have worked with headsets did you have a director behind you or did you work without one ? Im curious to know how to effectively communicate with them so that each person is aware of what the other are doing but its not confusing or distracting..
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Old October 24th, 2009, 07:00 AM   #7
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We always had a director which was either Gavin Taylor or Geoff Wonfor so it was a bit easier, some of the concerts we did were U2 @ red rocks and queen live magic in 1985.
The queen gig had 16 camera's on it and it was done over two nights so we ended up with 32 reels of one inch c-format video. It took Gavin about a month just to view the rushes and he said to me recently that it was actually too much coverage and five cams are about the max for a band. Most of the camera people also had to have special headphones like the ones used in aircraft as the PA systems were around 50-100k watts.
The cameras were also tube based so the ones on the stage tended to have stripey pictures as the vibrations from the bass bins rattled the tubes. There was also big problems with camera tubes being burned by the lights.

I suppose you could try setting up inter cam comms but someone has to take the lead and decide who is shooting what but for a three camera shoot a pre production meet should be enough to sort out who is shooing what.

There are also cabled talkback systems available but that may not be practical, as radio system is more user friendly but it would be hard to have all the comms open all the time as the spill from the music would make it a nightmare to listen to.

A lot of the bigger bands who have camera coverage for the big screens have a flight case set-up back stage with a director/vision mixer but the camerapeople tend to have a cabled talkback system.
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Old October 25th, 2009, 05:05 AM   #8
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Thanks for your help Gary..

You are right about spill from headset mics into each others ears.. The only thing id hope would be to find a headset with a tight cardioid pattern for the mics direction to minimise spill, but i can see how it still could be an issue...

Ideally id need 4 people on wireless at the same time.. I was seeing a few 2 way hadsets things that were bluetooth which i thought may be an easy and less expensive alternative (if it was still reliable in smaller venues) but so far nothing has shown up that will do 4.. I will keep searching..

I understand what you mean when you mention 16 cameras is too much.. While its good to know you wont be short of good shots, I sometimes think you can have too much choice in a production sense and it becomes hard to digest.. Your ability to be creative slows down because you are preoccupied trying to manage it all... I found that in the old days when i was doing a lot of music work, loop CDs with 3000 different loops would drive me nuts...

Also i think the relative gain probably decreases the more you add.. going from 3 to 4 cameras is a big help and 4 to 5 is great.. But i dont think going from 12 to 13 would be anywhere near as big an impact..

I have lots of old footage of bands from the 70s where you can see the banding effect on the camera.. I often wondered what it was.. I had noticed it was exaggerated by certain spots in the songs also which makes sense when you say bass rattled the tubes..

That red rocks U2 gig was really great.. Growing up i watched that over and over for months.. Queen also.. Sounds like you've done some great shows..
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Old October 25th, 2009, 08:16 AM   #9
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Glad I was of some help, I have done some great shows but all the 80's as that is when we did a weekly 1.5hr live tv show for ch4 called The Tube, it ran for five years.

We had just about everybody on it and as a spin off we got to do some big gigs for bands including The Police, U2, Queen, Dire Straits, BB King, Simply Red, Spandau Ballet, Eric Clapton.

Some of the team then went on to do the Montreux jazz festival for several years and Gavin Taylor the director did Eric Claptons 24 nights residency at the Albert Hall:Gavin Taylor

Happy days and we had an absolute ball, we even got to hang out with most of the bands as our relaxed northern geordie attitude was much appreciated.

You can read a bit more about it here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tube_(TV_series)
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Old October 25th, 2009, 09:36 AM   #10
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Gary... I know the Tube show you talk about.. I was a fan of hard rock bands growing up and i have a DVD with a bunch of people playing live on there.. Ozzy Osbourne and i think and a few others.. What i loved is it was totally live and not lip synched like many shows were.. Whatever ive seen from that show has always been great..

I just checked the wikipedia page and saw it has Thin Lizzy listed.. Can you recall that episode at all ? They were great band and have never seen that footage.

You have done some very cool things, i would love to have even been a fly on the wall for some of that stuff..
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Old October 25th, 2009, 11:30 AM   #11
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Yup I was in the studio when Lizzy were on I was actually on the sound crew for the Tube I only recently went onto camera work.

As for Ozzy I mixed that show and it was totally live for all the bands and I mean live to air not just live in the studio.

By the end we had 192 mic sources coming into the three sound control rooms and I still have some of the main mixing desk modules in my edit studio.

I have a compilation DVD that was done you can get it here:The Tube - Series 1 (2 Disc Set) [1983] [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: DVD

Happy days as i got to do the studio and the location film inserts and as I was in my 20's it was right up my street as I got to meet all my heroes inc Dave Gilmour and Mark Knopfler.
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Old October 26th, 2009, 07:29 AM   #12
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Yes happy days for sure... I'm envious you got to see and work with so many great bands.. Thanks for sharing.
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Old October 26th, 2009, 12:00 PM   #13
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Just a suggestion for the PA interference issue...

Throat Mic Tactical headset Throat Microphone Mics headsets

You wear it on your neck and it picks up the vibrations from your throat. Works well for me in Paintball and I am sure you could use it for your shoots.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 05:04 AM   #14
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Really you need to test the system in a loud evironment.

I rememebr using wired miltary grade headsets back in 02 and we still had a hell of a time hearing the director (and vice versa). In my case it wasn't tooo much a deal as I was the darling child at the time (yes.. you can roll eyes here) and the director basically trusted me to get whatever shot I liked. But not even knowing if they were live on your camera or not was really annoying and made switching difficult cause the dir and switcher had no idea if you were about to move. The director (who is a good friend of mine) almost lost his voice screaming into the mic all night. On a six camera live shoot.... I'm suprised he didn't go insane!

Not sure what the systems are like now though.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #15
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The other benefit to that throat mic is it would probably make it easy for me to strangle someone if they screw up :).. Hah.. Im usually the one screwing up so that might backfire.
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