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


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Old May 12th, 2011, 10:17 PM   #61
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Kyle --

My experience with the NX5 in theatrical settings is the reverse of my experience with with the CX cams. Manual modes are definitely preferrable. In particular, I've found the NX5's auto focus in problematic in theater settings -- slow to react and not always in sharp focus. I also use an FX1000 and have found that, unlike the NX5, it does pretty well in mostly auto mode in a stage shoot. This parallels Adam's experience with his Z5 cams (pro division version of the FX1000). Since the NX5 is derived from the Z5/FX1000 platform, I am mystified that the NX5's auto modes seem comparatively sloppy in theatrical settings, but they are. Ron Evans has also observed the same thing and has posted about it in the NX5 forum. Even weirder, it seems to be only theater lighting and stages (and extreme low light at wedding receptions) where I run into these problems. In other shooting situations, auto modes have been good. I'll be interested in what you find from using your NX5 at the dress rehearsal.
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Old May 13th, 2011, 01:28 AM   #62
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Hmm, that is fascinating and surprising. I too would have thought the Z5 and NX5 would behave much like twins. In other reading I was surprised to also see that the NX5 lacks a few features -- like Shot Transition, which I always regarded as a toy but which I now use quite frequently during concerts for the slow creeping zoom you can't get any other way.

I bought my Z5s about a week before they announced the NX5. I knew the NX was coming, but I needed the cams for a show. At first I was irritated that I hadn't waited and bought the newer, "better" cam. But now I'm glad I bought what and when I did; I love these babies beyond words.
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Old May 13th, 2011, 11:42 AM   #63
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Equipment list update! This has come a long way since my initial post.

Main cam to be mainly fixed wide with occasional zooms and pans is a Sony HDR-XR500V mounted on a Sony VCT-80AV Tripod with Remote in Grip (
Sony VCT-80AV Tripod with Remote in Grip VCT-80AV B&H Photo
).

Secondary cam to be fixed wide is the Sony HDR-CX160 that I was originally intending to use as my only cam. This one will be on a Sony VCTR640 Light Weight Tripod (
Sony VCTR640 Tripod VCTR640 B&H Photo Video
). I'm still not sure this tripod will be sturdy enough even for a fixed cam so I may look to borrow something better.

Because of the length of the show (5-6 hours), I will be using the AC power adaptors on both cams. The XR500V has a 120gb hard drive so I am good on media storage there. The CX160 has 32gb internal flash memory and I also have a 32gb SDHC Class 10 memory card so I should be good there too. Since the highest image quality on the XR500V is FH, should I use that same image quality on the CX160 or should I go up to FX on that one? If I use FX on the CX160, I could run close to using up my media storage capacity (approx 3 hr per 32gb).

I did purchase an external stereo microphone (
Azden SMX-10 Stereo Microphone SMX-10 B&H Photo Video
) but I'm not sure if I should use it or just relay on the built in mic on the XR500V. I will be asking for a copy of the actual music being used for the performance, but only intend to use it if really necessary.

I know I have been advised to set these cams up at different angles, but I'm not so sure what the best angles would be so I am looking for suggestions on that. I imagine I want the fixed cam to be as close as possible to the stage using minimal zoom. I am hoping to be a on a platform with my main cam (probably just behind the floor seating left or right).
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Old May 13th, 2011, 12:40 PM   #64
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Overall I like your plan. You're right about the second tripod being flimsy but if you don't pan much or even touch the cam you should be fine. Note that it does not have a remote on the handle so if you even touch the cam for any reason you will get tremendous shake. So don't touch the cam.

I would set the 500 up to cover the full width of the stage, and the 160 to cover the center third or so. I'd set them up right next to each other so you can supervise both without moving. If you cut between them -- as you'd do if some kids just happen to be in the center third of the stage, like with little kids -- then the POV will be sufficiently different that it'll look like you planned it that way. You will never need to zoom or pan. But you could put the cheap cam on the good tripod so you could do so if you needed to.

I'd return the mic if possible. It's of no benefit. Your on-board mics will be fine for atmosphere and you will need the booth audio anyway for the actual music -- the add-on mic wouldn't benefit you there anyhow.

AC Power adaptors = Good.

Always record in the highest quality mode possible unless you have no choice. You can always degrade it later, but you can't make it better.
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Old May 13th, 2011, 01:30 PM   #65
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Offhand, there's no reason not to match the 17Mbps rates, although you might get better results using the higer rate for the wide cam, more data=more detail, at least in theory...

You'll have to scope the venue - usually setting up near the "sound booth" is the way to go - there's usually space - problem with this is you don't want to zoom in too much as the aperature will by nature close up a bit... which may or may not be a problem.

You don't want to be too far away from a camera if you're operating solo - in case you need to tweak adjustments or someone bumps your pod out of alignment... your angles don't need to be terribly different, your zoomed in framing on the "tracking cam" will be sufficient to give an altered perception. If you have a 5 man crew and all that, sure, put cameras forward stage left and right, a rear wide and tracking cam, and toss in a handheld roaming... but you're talking a 1 man band, know your limitations!

You're pretty well set now, be sure your computer will handle the edit/render, and be prepared to make a boatload of dics copies - I did one "friendly job" that was supposed to be "20-30", turned into 120!
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Old May 13th, 2011, 02:03 PM   #66
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
You're pretty well set now, be sure your computer will handle the edit/render, and be prepared to make a boatload of dics copies - I did one "friendly job" that was supposed to be "20-30", turned into 120!
I'm already prepared for a possible need to upgrade my computer. I'm using an AMD Athlon X2 5000+ processor right now, but understand I may need to upgrade to a QUAD core processor. I built the machine I have now myself, so it shouldn't be too bad to upgrade the motherboard and CPU if need be.

As far as disc duplication, I understand what you are saying. I'm planning this performance to be a 2-disc set and am estimating 50-60 copies so that's a lot of DVDs. I am considering outsourcing the duplication of the discs to a source such as CD Duplication Services, DVD Duplication Services, CD / DVD Replication, CD / DVD Duplication. This method I won't have to buy the media, worry about printing labels, or extensive use of my not-so-great DVD burner.

What sort of price would you guys put on a DVD package like this? I'm planning to produce a double disc set in a standard 2-disc case with the discs labeled and a nice cover in the case. Last year, I bought the video of this same recital at $40. I have heard that some year's had charged as much as $60, but they didn't sell many at that price. I'm thinking about $25 for my production this year becasue being a parent of a performer, I think $40 is too much, and also becasue of the fact this that is my first time doing this and I have no idea how it will turn out.
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Old May 13th, 2011, 03:53 PM   #67
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

It'll turn out GREAT, you've got the best crew in the biz here for advice! Short of double punching the record button and not getting anything, you'll be ahead of most!

I'd suggest $30-35, - you have to figure that a "store bought DVD" with lesser "stars" than your video will feature is $20... your "content", presuming it's reasonably well captured and edited is of higher "value" <wink>!

Don't let any lack of confidence cause you to underprice, if you go to the rehearsals, nail the framing and exposure and framing, and run it though in your head so it's second nature, you'll have a quality result given all the advice here. I'd have no problem asking $40 shooting with your gear, and know I'd deliver a good result that was well worth it.

The other factor is the economy, money is tight, so you may want to consider some sort of "pre-pay discount" (maybe make that your $35 "package"), with an option for them to purchase when it's done for $45? You could work with the studio for the "after-market" if it comes out great, if not, you could soft-pedal it. I always found if I gave a "courtesy copy" to whoever was in charge and they show it to the "class", my phone rings...
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Old May 13th, 2011, 04:07 PM   #68
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

As usual, Dave has nailed it. It will depend on your area but the price ranges make sense. The idea of $35 day of show/$45 later is a good one. The difference needs to be enough to really encourage paying right then and there so you have some working capital up front, even if you are outsourcing the actual duplication.

And don't laugh at the idea of double-punching the record button... we've all done it. Keep your eye on the little red light.

You'll do great.
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Old May 13th, 2011, 04:33 PM   #69
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Don't forget that if you go in close, you have a very large angle of view to cover, so you will be panning and tilting through a big angle, and working very hard - the cameraman at the rear of the room has a much easier job. So don't go very close in - it's very tough - AND you make focus more tricky too.
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Old May 13th, 2011, 04:43 PM   #70
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Another pricing aspect to consider is offering a discount on multiple orders. In other words, if they order 3 or more they get a discount. Remember, you are capturing memories so for a lot of people this will be something they keep looking at. It also makes great family gifts for Grandparents and Uncles and Aunts. I always get calls after for order forms or asking how to order videos. Don't forget to make a master for yourself too, saving the artwork for your labels and DVD cover inserts. I've been doing one studio's shows for about 5 years now, they do two shows a year (one winter one spring), and I with each show it never fails that I get a few requests for past shows. this last one a lady's daughter was graduating and this was her last show. She ended up wanting to get a copy of every show her daughter was in.

Like Dave and Adam said, I'm sure you're video will turn out better than you think. And there are a list of things that seem silly that can go wrong. Another one I learned was for mics that are self powered. Remember to turn it on. I usually use phantom powered mics but on a backup cam I was using a Rode Videmic. Got everything set up tested for picture, went through my check list. Didn't have "turn on mic" on the list. All I can say is that recording showed that the mic had zero self noise.

While I'm thinking of it. Plug in power on the cams is good but also have a fresh battery in the camera too in case something happens and you lose power to your adapter.

-Garrett
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Old May 13th, 2011, 10:15 PM   #71
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Ridgeway View Post
...
What sort of price would you guys put on a DVD package like this? I'm planning to produce a double disc set in a standard 2-disc case with the discs labeled and a nice cover in the case. Last year, I bought the video of this same recital at $40. I have heard that some year's had charged as much as $60, but they didn't sell many at that price. I'm thinking about $25 for my production this year because being a parent of a performer, I think $40 is too much, and also because of the fact this that is my first time doing this and I have no idea how it will turn out.
Here's the problem ... even if you're a parent, if you start out low this year it's going to be extremely hard to raise your price to where it should be in the future. $25 is going to be a killer when everything is factored in.

For a 2 disk set with multiple cameras, I don't think $40 is excessive (if produced well), but $35 is probably a better figure. You're going to have a LOT of editing to do, so that's going to eat up a lot of your time has got to be worth something.

I agree with the price discount for multiple orders. Yes ... you'll have a few people get together and place a single order for multiple disks ... but the main thing is that you did in fact sell multiples.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 08:09 AM   #72
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Our recital was a little different. We had 3 separate performances at approx. 1.5 hours each. I started at $25 dollars in the VHS days and then went $30. I had a multiple performances discount, since some were in all three at $50 for 2 and $70 for 3. I actually sold a lot of the 3's. My guess is that $30 to $35 would be good depending on whether you mail them out or not. I mailed mine. The biggest hurdle you might find is the turn around time. Because I was doing this on my off time and we were traveling with the dance team all summer I had an 8 to 10 week delivery. Duplication was usually a week and then I mailed them out as well. The studio decided not to go with me this year after 12 years because they said they got too many complaints about the delivery time. My situation has changed this year, but they didn't bother to ask me they just went with another company. The good thing is that for the first time in 12 years I can actually watch and enjoy my daughter and son dance. Good luck with it all.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 11:50 AM   #73
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

I actually just finished creating my order form. As it stands at this moment, I am asking $28 for one or $25 for two or more ordered and paid for the day of the recital. Orders after the day of the recital are $33. I am also giving the option of having it mailed at $2.00 shipping and handling.

I know you guys are suggesting a little higher prices, but I don't want people getting scared off knowing I'm not a professional. Without knowing how well this project is going to turn out, I'm worried about charging too much. I feel that if I do deliver a quality product, prices on future projects can be adjusted accordingly without too many complaints. I'm not looking to make much of a profit either - I'm mainly looking to cover my equipment expenses since I'm starting with nothing.

I know the editing is going to be a lot of work, especially since I have limited experience in that area too. I think I'm really challenging myself to see what I can really do and hope I'm not getting in over my head. I'm starting to get really nervous now that the recital is less than one week away.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 01:02 PM   #74
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

I just finished filming a choir show from Hell...First major screwup was they never allowed for camera placement, so my normal setup was unavailable, they then stated it was a sold out show so I was forced onto the balcony with only four seats I could call my own, remember I am using 3 cams, so to say it was tight would be an understatement, I could barely fit a tripod in the isle, my 7 " Marshall monotor became a god send...sound was to be provided from the house board and whoever ran it left the first 2 numbers out, I mean the board was not even turned on , I can still use the sound from my Rode mics thankfully ...
Exiting my seat was not an option since my cams and the audience were on either side of my seat.(Thankfully there were no children in my isle, I could just see one tipping my cams over the balcony ledge..Ouch! ) I was basically stuck in my seat till the intermission and then I had to climb over the back of my chair to exit...It was then that I observed that nearly half the auditorium seats were empty down below, and the original area I wanted to set up had no one in or around it at all, so I was a little upset to say the least....Anyway the footage turned out OK even with the placement limitations but its going to require a bit more editing than I would have liked, but I guess it comes with the job...I have another show at the end of the month at the same venue, a meeting and changes will be made for this one for sure.....

Last edited by David Wayne Groves; May 16th, 2011 at 01:45 PM.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 07:42 PM   #75
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Brad:

A small suggestion for placing the second camera. I believe you said your wife is also attending? If so (or if you have anybody else available to babysit the second camera) my experience is that life will be easier with the second "wide" camera with a really different angle than your main cam. If I were using two cameras and are shooting from, say, the middle of a front balcony, I would place the second cam down on the main floor against the right or left wall. I would put it high enough to have a mainly unobstructed view of the stage and close enough that I do not have to zoom much (or at all) to cover the entire stage. (This gives you easiest depth of field control and avoids most exposure problems.) As long as you have somebody to watch over the camera --- standing next to it when people come in and out between acts --- they should not need to do much of anything with the CX. Maybe check for how much time is left on the SD card and maybe re-aim if the tripod gets bumped.

Maybe you will be confined to the ends of a balcony. So, stand on the right with your XR and have your locked-down CX on the left. Am I being clear about having very different angles of view?

As I see it, the primary benefits for separating the cameras this way is that it makes editing much easier for you and, with this being your first big project, also increases how professional your finished product will look, and does so with pretty minimal effort. Also, I find every so often that, when shooting dancers from one angle of view, something will be happening in the back or to one side but dancers are in my way from where I stand. A different view avoids that problem of your angle being blocked. (A basic rule of thumb for wedding videos is that, no matter how carefully you position yourself with your main camera, somebody, at some point in the wedding is going to stand up and block your view.)

Another important reason for separate views in your first few gigs is that that when you have the cameras close together, and you cut from one to the other, you often wind up with what editors call a "jump cut." You get these when you cut from one similar view to another, and it has an adverse psychological effect on viewers. It certainly is possible to cover some or most of these kinds of jump cuts with a transition, even a simple dissolve. But why put yourself to that work if you do not have to?

I will say that I certainly do (sometimes) run two cameras together, although I make a point of having two or three other angles with locked down cams for cut-away shots for when I inevitably get busy, distracted, confused etc and get two bad shots. All of us, both experienced and inexperienced shooters alike, will yield to the temptation to fiddle with the cameras within arm's reach.

So, for your first big gig, I recommend having the two cameras apart from each other. If the situation does not permit, so be it. If it does, take advantage of this simple little trick of the trade.

As for the opinions on pricing, I think you have gotten good advice and I also think you have properly thought through your pricing for this gig.
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