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


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Old March 8th, 2010, 11:33 PM   #16
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I think the benefit -- if there is one -- of the FX1 over the XR or CX may not be the three chips, but rather the glass. Even comparing the FX1 to the HC3 (which came out around the same time) the HC had a sharper, punchier picture, but the big lens on the FX made it easier to control DoF and just generally had a lovely cinematic look.

But I've got an XR520 as well, and man, what a picture!
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Old March 10th, 2010, 05:45 PM   #17
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When I was doing more dance recital and live show videos I have found that the most important thing in the camera is the ability to control exposure, focus and gain. To get a good rig that you're going to be happy with under $2000 would be a stretch IMHO. I use to shoot with a Canon XL H1a, XH A1 and an HV20 as a third backup cam.

Lighting and sound will always be a problem for live shows because they're designed to be pleasing to the live audience. And, as Adam mentioned, you don't have control over any of it. Especially for productions in school auditoriums with make shift lighting that is uneven at best. Dancers constantly go from shadows to hot spots that blow out your picture.

As a general rule for what to look for in a camera to do these types of productions I'd get something that has a manual focus ring on the lens, I prefer an iris ring on the lens also, and a very well placed push autofocus button helps if you're not really comfortable with manual focus. Make sure you can set the gain and not have it change on you as well as the ability to dial in the color temp for white balance.

One very big ticket item you did not mention that is essential to getting good results is a good tripod. Unfortunately you'll discover that the tripod can be almost as much as the camera. But, for doing dance shows it's a must. If you can't afford to purchase the gear now, I'd advise to rent it for a few shows. If your work is good you will discover a pretty good market for the videos you produce. You should be able to make enough within three shows to purchase a good basic field production kit. To rent something suitable for doing dance shows should run about $250 a day, I typically make between $1000 to $1500 profit from a small dance show so after your rental costs, in three shows you could be looking at having roughly $5000 to use to purchase gear (including the money would spend now). It sounds like a lot to spend on video gear but after having to purchase cables, batteries, and other misc. adapters and such it really isn't that much.

That's just how I'd approach it.

-Garrett
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Old March 10th, 2010, 08:28 PM   #18
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I've been shooting dance recitals for over 10 years now. I started with a Canon GL-1 moved on to a Pany DVC-80 (now my backup) and last year started using a Sony FX-7. I can highly recommend the FX-7. Full manual controls, Lanc control, super clean picture and 20x Lens. The only downside would be the lack of XLR audio and some people say that it's bad in low light. Here's the thing, a wedding reception maybe, a lit stage definitely not. Even up to 9db gain is clean. The lack of xlr doesn't matter as I always have an external mixer for the house feed. I record to tape and I take the firewire out to a laptop and record HDV live through Vegas 6. I've been doing 2 separate dance studios and they are happy with a one camera production. That's what they like and that's what they want to pay for. I've done a 2 camera, but the director's of the studios actually prefer the single camera. I also shoot a static wide shot for the studio for overall evaluation. I have found that the CMOS chips in the FX-7 tend to handle the extreme differences in the stage lighting better than CCD. The FX-7 is a great 3 chip camera at a base price of $1999. I don't think there is a camera that can touch it for the price.
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Old March 14th, 2010, 04:46 PM   #19
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David, I have thought about the FX7, but from another forum had garnered the impression that it may not be a good choice for "contrasty" to low-light events. Perhaps I should reconsider; though I still prefer the idea of recording to flash or SD cards.
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Old March 14th, 2010, 05:43 PM   #20
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Yes, really low light it struggles, but I have yet to have problems on a stage and have done 4 dance events with the camera with good results. I don't do weddings, so low light receptions aren't a problem for me. I think it's worth looking at on a tight budget. I have been really pleased with it. I have examples on my youtube channel at youtube.com/user/DStoney One of them was outside at night with very little light. It doesn't look so good. Some others were in a dance studio with just fluorescent lighting. I think it came out for available light.
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Old March 14th, 2010, 11:17 PM   #21
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The FX7 is a great camera in many respects, not too big/heavy, easy to handle, good manual options - if only Sony could stick the new EXMOR R sensors in, go tapeless, and hit the same price point!

The FX7 and its sensors are now rather dated compared to what you can buy in current offerings, and you have to remember that if you're going to buy "new" or even used, you're talking about a 3-4 year old camera in a fast changing area of technology.
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 10:17 PM   #22
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I put an order in today to B&H for the Sony CX550V, as well as the VariZoom VZ-Sealth LANC controller and an adapter cable to work with the AV input on the Sony.

First recital is April 10th... so that is when I'll actually know how it works for me. BUT also I only have a few weeks to get it figured out!


Thanks to all who helped me make a decision. Adam thank you for the additional help via email on helping better understand the AV-LANC conversion of the Sony products.
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 10:18 PM   #23
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Please be sure to let us all know how you like your new gear!
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Old April 5th, 2010, 01:08 PM   #24
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Cameras for Dance Video

I started 4 years ago with a couple of consumer Sony cameras (HC1 and HC3) and got decent results shooting in HDV and rendering in SD using Vegas. I upgraded to a couple of Sony HVR-V1Us and the results were MUCH better, particularly in the close-ups. You may be able to find one or two of these used for a decent price. Mine are in mothballs...

I made the big jump to Sony EX1's a little over a year ago and the results speak for themselves. Here is a clip on my Facebook fan page. The HD is amazing:

PointeDVD | Facebook

I use the EX1's to produce DVDs as well as Blu Ray. I know this is out of your price range, but this investment has paid for itself multiple times.

Also, get yourself a good quality fluid head. That makes all the difference when shooting dance.

Jerry Wiese
PointeDVD
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Old April 25th, 2010, 08:20 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
Please be sure to let us all know how you like your new gear!
Well....... the first recital didn't go so well for me.

The picture quality is FAR and away better than the Canon that I shot with over the Christmas recitals. However the audio is terrible -- most likely from me not understanding something about the camera.

On the Canon I could adjust audio gain manually. This helped when one dance number was significantly different in dB than the others. I have not discovered how to adjust audio gain with the Sony, and can not find it in the documentation anywhere. I was using a Rode VideoMic to capture the audio. In many cases that sound is blown out with clipping and in a few instances the dances are just audible (a little exaggeration on my part there).

Fortunately I knew I my limitation in advance and the gentleman running the auditorium mixer was kind enough to record to tape the entire recital. It will be a huge pain in the _ _ _ to convert that to digital and then get things synced up, but it's better than the alternative.

So, what am I missing for the external mic?
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Old April 25th, 2010, 10:01 PM   #26
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What your missing is alternate audio sources. You have two options. Really, two options that many do as standard anyways for backup.

Zoom H2 or Zoom H4n. I have both, and I use both and swear by them. The H2 has an audio sync issue, but is small and records audio to flash cards for a ridiculously long period of time. Drop it center stage, and you'll pick up the taps you need and random audience/room/floor audio. The H4n holds sync incredibly well, and has 2 xlr inputs, in addition to recording back of house audio at the same time. Put it on a tripod in the back aisle, with stereo outputs from the board plugging in left and right line inputs, and you have 4-channel audio gold. Combine that with the H2 front center stage, and you have a powerhouse.

Total investment, $500 (if even).

You spend a little bit more time in post syncing everything, but it's completely worth it for the end result and reduction in audio "clean up".

-Corey


Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Wesnitzer View Post
Well....... the first recital didn't go so well for me.

The picture quality is FAR and away better than the Canon that I shot with over the Christmas recitals. However the audio is terrible -- most likely from me not understanding something about the camera.

On the Canon I could adjust audio gain manually. This helped when one dance number was significantly different in dB than the others. I have not discovered how to adjust audio gain with the Sony, and can not find it in the documentation anywhere. I was using a Rode VideoMic to capture the audio. In many cases that sound is blown out with clipping and in a few instances the dances are just audible (a little exaggeration on my part there).

Fortunately I knew I my limitation in advance and the gentleman running the auditorium mixer was kind enough to record to tape the entire recital. It will be a huge pain in the _ _ _ to convert that to digital and then get things synced up, but it's better than the alternative.

So, what am I missing for the external mic?
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Old April 25th, 2010, 11:11 PM   #27
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Yikes!! Something new to learn for this poor, dumb photographer. :)

I will spend some time reading up on the Zoom suggestions. I am quickly feeling overwhelmed.

I am comfortable with photography and digital cameras along with Photoshop. All this other stuff with the video is starting to feel like I am in the DEEP end of the pool.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 01:09 PM   #28
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I use the H4n as well... perched right at the lip of the stage on a mic stand. You'll never get decent audio from an on-cam mic so the Zoom is a Godsend. Takes about 5 seconds to sync it up with the cam's audio in Premiere. Easy as pie.

Also note that the Rode is brilliant and very high output, so you need to use the attenuator switches inside the battery compartment to avoid clipping.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 08:59 PM   #29
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Well I ordered the Zoom H4n this afternoon...

I feel as if I am being sucked in! :)

I am apprehensive at the learning curve, but am going to trust those who have said it is pretty easy to get done and that the results are worth it.

Thank you agian, to everyone who has babysat me through my transition into video.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 03:48 AM   #30
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For dance, I'm always torn between the mix of live sound and the audio tracks. What I've pretty well standardised on now is to take the tracks that were played at the end, and then mix with the recorded sound. The mic at the front of the stage is great for the percussive material, especially tap, and the current 'clever' one, stomp. I use one of the PCC mics I use for live sound of musicals, and simply route the mic to one of the stage cameras, into channel 2. This camera's tracks gives me the sound at the camera position and the close in stage sound.

My pet hate is the constant whooping and screaming that happens at all these events no in the UK - do they do this in the States? Instead off clapping, the teens and even older girls in the audience whoop and yell, and even yell out names "Come on Stacey!" I spend far too much time chopping these bit out, and often end up with far more dry track and less room sound than ideally I'd like - but audiences seem so loud nowadays.
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