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Old February 6th, 2012, 11:02 AM   #1
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First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

Hello all, shooting weddings 5 years and have basic editing skills with Corel Video Studio and Cyberlinks Power Director, both on PC.I will soon be shooting first dance recital and have viewed a few demo DVD's. I will have one camera shooting full stage and the other for pan & zoom. My questions is; When editing, I assume I will have the full stage video on timeline 1, then add clips of the pan & zoom footage as overlays? Would this be done accurately by eye? I have been spoiled with weddings because I can use fades, but I cant simply fade in and out here because of the audio. I have a pair of Sony VX2100's.

Any help for the Dance Recital Virgin would be greatly appreciated :)
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Old February 6th, 2012, 11:10 AM   #2
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

Ideally you should use an editing program with multicamera ability which doesn't help you at this point, I know. Still, the way you're editing can work, but the time involved sounds dreadful and so inefficient.

Anyway, you must sync up your cameras using the audio. Lay the video on the timeline with one over the other, and you need to line the clips up so the audio matches.

If you program shows the audio with waveforms, you can do it by sight at first, then you zoom in and adjust, play it to where they audio tracks play perfectly together, and you're in sync.

The key is when shooting do NOT turn off either camera so you don't have to sync up mulitple clips.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 02:22 PM   #3
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

I'm sure everyone does it a little differently but here's how I approach dance recitals.

First as Jeff said, don't start and stop the cameras between each number. I only stop at intermission and the end. I always get a soundtrack of the numbers that are played, as well as a board feed if possible.

I use the wide camera as my master and synch all other cameras to that one so my wide camera is usually camera 1 and is on the top of the timeline. Then I place each camera on a separate timeline below it. get the sync very close using the audio wave which is shown. Look for a nice strong peak such as a heavy base drum or sudden loud passage. Depending on how far apart your cameras are they could be slightly out of synch due to the different speeds at which light and sound travel. Sound travels roughly at 1125 ft/s. if you have one camera that is at the back of house and one at the front and they are roughly 100 ft apart, They will be about 2.5 frames out of synch if you just use the audio. So I go and look for a very definite visual cue and use that as the final frame synch. Sounds a little crazy but I'm a bit of a nut when it comes to synching things up.

Then from there, I use the multicam function and go through each number and switch between cameras as if I were doing a live switch. That gives me the rough cut which fits the music for each number and is generally very close to the final. After doing the entire show, I then go back and examine each cut and make frame by frame adjustments.

Once the video edit is done I pull the sound track and board feed into the mix, again using camera 1 as the master to synch too. I usually also have a stage mic to pick up tap and the occasional dialogue some numbers have. Then I do the audio mix. I usually use a mix of sound track, stage mic, camera 1, and board feed for PA announcements. That generally gives the right mix of room/environment sound as well as audience hoots and cheers. I tend to mix the hip hop numbers a little heavy on bass as that's generally expected. Ballet and tap number I make a little room in the middle so that the taps and pointe shoe sounds come through a bit more.

I try to use all cuts but there are the occasional times when I have to use a cross dissolve to make it look right. Those work great for the lyrical and ballet numbers.

That's my basic formula. As I said, I'm sure others do it differently but it works for me and I've gotten so I can do them fairly quickly.

Good luck, they are fun but tiring.

-Garrett
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Old February 6th, 2012, 02:52 PM   #4
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

I do it almost exactly the way Garret does, although for some reason I like mixing the audio first. Less of an issue with Dance, when I'm usually taking just the track from the CD they play in the house, but more when we're doing plays and musicals.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 03:30 PM   #5
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

"Ideally you should use an editing program with multicamera ability which doesn't help you at this point, I know. Still, the way you're editing can work, but the time involved sounds dreadful and so inefficient."


Maybe not so bad when working with only two tracks. While I know nothing about Corel Video Studio, I suspect it works a lot like NLEs did before multi-cam editing and monitoring functions were readily available. Here's how I used to work back in the 1990s when I was shooting dance recitals with a TRV900 and a VX2000 and editing with EditDV/Cineform. (Well, that makes me sound old, doesn't it?)

I used a locked-down cam for a full-stage shot as the cut-away and put it on video track number 1. The footage from the "pan and zoom" (P&Z) camera went above it on track number 2, I used a photo-flash to sync the tracks. I monitored the P&Z track to find all the places where the P&Z cam was zooming in or out, or quickly jumping to a different close-up, and cut out those sections. I wound up with a timeline that looked something like this.

TL 2 [ -- ------ ----- -- - - - ---- - - --
TL 1 [______________________________

Then, I would do another scan to check to be sure I had not missed something crucial while zoomed in. (Just activate track number 1 and check beneath your selected P&Z portions). Then, look at the audio wave forms (as Garret suggested) and adjust the cuts to fall on a beat. When I was good to go, I dropped the TL2 clips directly down over the TL1, overwriting the corresponding "wide-cam" sections, and then applied whatever transitions were needed or desired. When there was a need for both a close up and a full stage view, I would do a picture-in-picture effect with the zoomed cam.

Some other suggestions, adding to what Jeff, Adam and Garret said.

1. Use a flash from a still camera to synch your video tracks. Any digital camera will suffice. (In a pinch, I've even used those disposable cameras you find near check-out lines in hardware and grocery stores.) The flash is almost always 1/30th second which is a single frame of video. The VX2000/2001 cams had pretty good clocks, but it is still a good idea to check later in the program to be sure things are still in synch. There might be a frame or two drift over a long recital. Maybe somebody is shooting flash stills as the dancers bow at the end of a number., and you can use them. You might see a single dframe of drift. If it is more, you need to find where it started to drift.

2. Use audio tracks to verify the synch. You will want to sync your audio tracks but you have to be careful with using audio to sync video unless your cameras are in the same plane relative to the audio source. That is, if one camera is close to the stage and the other is in the back of the hall, the audio may not sync even though the video tracks are visually together, and vice versa. (Sound travels much more slowly than light and can pose sync issues as discussed by Garret). For that situation, you unlink the audio and video tracks and slide one audio track to match the other. You want to sync to the audio source closest to the stage because it will approximate what the dancers are hearing and reacting to.

3. Will the music be live or recorded? If it is recorded, I like to get a copy of the music tracks the studio/school is playing for the dances. You can match the audio waveforms and get much cleaner stereo audio than with what you record in the room. Depending on the style of dance, you may want to use it as reinforcement or you may want to fade down the room-recordings. For example, if there is hip-hop or tap, you need the audience reactions and room sound. For a ballet or modern solo, however, you may want a quiet sound track to better focus on the dancer.

4. You want to set the wide cam on manual focus. Zoom all the way in on something sharp, then switch to manual focus and pull back for your wide frame. Everything will still be in focus with a reasonable depth of field. Doing this keeps the VX2100s' auto-focus from "hunting" when the stage lighting fades up or down (as for black-outs between numbers). I do the same thing for my P&Z cameras, too.

5. If you can attend a dress or tech rehearsal, do so and check the lighting. If you've got variable stage lighting, use the "spotlight" button on the bottom of the camera. The VX2000/2100 cams can do an okay job with auto exposure and the spotlight function enabled.

6. I always set the wide cam where its angle of view is very different from that of the P&Z cam. This makes editing much easier and avoids the problem of "jump-cuts." It also avoids the need to use a lot of transitions. However, putting a camera on the other side of the room may pose issues for camera security. Depending on conditions in the area where you are working, you might need to have somebody babysitting the wide-cam.

7. You can shoot in wide screen mode. There are a couple of considerations. The resolution from your VX2100s will be a bit softer, but the wide screen makes it much easier to frame a stage. A lot of people have widescreen tvs and prefer widescreen DVDs. On the other hand, many people will accept a 4:3 video.

8. Be judicious with how tightly you zoom. When a recital includes very young dancers, getting faces is a must for the parents and relatives who buy or get the DVDs. For dancers with more skill, it may be important to frame the whole dancer. You still need to get close enough for faces to be recognized. For older and more skilled dancers, you definitely want to frame to see the whole dancer.

9. If a dance school/studio has hired you to video the recital, realize that there will be some tension between what the school's teachers want to see on a DVD and what the parents want to see. My solution to this has been to give the school a DVD from the fixed, full stage view and provide the edited video to the parents. That way, everybody gets what they want.

Last edited by Jay West; February 6th, 2012 at 04:05 PM.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 04:03 PM   #6
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

Hi Adam,

I have done it where I do the audio synching before the edit too. I think it's just my film production habits that kick in where I get picture lock before doing sound. Either way works and sometimes having all audio synched up does help.

-Garrett
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Old February 6th, 2012, 06:30 PM   #7
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

Hi Guys

I did a double recital in December and technically there were no issues except if the dance teacher hasn't seen what you can do, I would most definately talk to her (or him) about what they expect!!!

I shot with two cams and provided a wide shot and cutins from the second camera in the edit. The dance school was horrified!!! They wanted to see the choreography from start to finish and as teachers I could appreciate that but they were also expecting the parents to want the same sort of edit rather than any close shots!!
It's also tough to make sure that you don't favour one child more than the other otherwise mums go crazy!!!

Before the shoot make sure both the school/dance company and the parents know exactly what they are going to get!!!

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Old February 7th, 2012, 01:29 AM   #8
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

Chris makes a very good point about talking to the dance school/company director. In my region, I've found that they all understand and accept that videos for parents are different than videos for the school. As long as they get a full view video --- which they can use for teaching, studying choreography, seeking grant proposals, and whatever --- they have had no problem with the parents getting something different. Happy parents mean more support for the studio/program/troupe.

I may have been a little blithe about saying that I just dump a wide-cam to DVD. I actually do a bit more than that, including tightening up the framing for solo and duo dancers. I can get away with that because I'm shooting in HD and coding for SD DVDs. With Darryn shooting SD VX2100s, there isn't the extra resolution that makes that post-production-digital-zooming feasible. Even so, a dance school is apt to be happier with the locked-down view.

A second thought is about taking audio feeds from the performance space sound system. Sometimes this works well, sometimes not. The problem is that you are usually getting the adjusted house-mix. The sound is tweaked to that it sounds good coming from the loudpeakers in the performance room, Sometimes, what is done to make the audio sound good from the loudspeakers in the room may make it sound strange when you feed it directly to the camera. If there is a board and a knowledgeable and non-strssed or non-hostile board operator, you may be able to get an unmodified signal (sometimes called PFL for "pre-fade level"). Sometimes, the "sound sytem" might be little more than an iPod patched to a basic PA system where the only "audio out" is an earphone jack. When I might need to fix audio oddities while editing, I find it very helpful to get copies of the mp3/iPod/CD tracks.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 02:49 AM   #9
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

Hi Jay

I'm glad someone else knows the dance recital issues!!! We actually had a supposed line feed from the desk but I had no signal eventually I discovered it was in fact a very low level output certainly nowhere near 0db but closer to -40db. It's therefore important to make sure your cam does have XLR inputs and you can switch them from line to mic as well and also attenuate the signal if you have to!! Our eventual audio, although way off a line level ended up being very consistent and very good!! If the sound guy is good then your life is a lot easier already. If the sound guy is going to the rehearsal, for goodness sake take a camera and record and monitor the audio level and quality..it's often just too late to do it on the night!!!

Our sound guy gave us the music track essentially but also mixed in a very low level from the stage mics so you could hear the tap dancing ... if that's not done it doesn't make the track genuine on a tap routine.

Darryn, ask for a dual audio feed so both cams get the same audio ..that way, track sync is very easy!!
You do have to trust the music and not the dancers!! Most 6 year olds have no idea about dancing in time so record it as the stage mics record it and don't try to sync on the actual dancers steps!

Chris
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Old February 7th, 2012, 01:18 PM   #10
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

I don't think I would ever rely only on a feed from the house audio desk. I really only use that to get clean PA announcements (special thanks and things like that). I record that on a separate digital recorder or better yet if the system is advanced enough I can give the sound tech a usb drive and they can record the entire show right from the mixer. In some events I set up my own mics to capture the house and again record to a separate multichannel recorder.

For plays where they mic each of the actors I do get a feed for each actor into separate channels, not post mixed as the sound techs are mixing for the theater. I can usually clean things up a bit as long as I have each actor on a separate channel.

As far as the edit goes, communicating with the dance studio owners prior to the shoot is key. I do give the school's director a cut of just the wide camera. They are most interested in seeing the whole stage for their critique and educational purposes for the dancers. I also give them a finished edit. In general I never go tighter than a full body (toes to outstretched arms) shot for dance recitals. There really isn't a reason to go in any tighter as this will show enough detail. For the young kids I done at least one tight shot on each kid. They usually don't go through very many formation changes so a couple of slow pans throughout the number usually gets it done. Cut those in at a couple of points and you've given the parents what they want to see, which is an isolation shot of their child. Older more advanced dancers aren't really interested in seeing their close ups and they generally have a lot more movement in their choreography so you have to give a lot more nose and head room. Also, going in too tight makes focusing a problem. All my cameras and camera ops go full manual all the time. Learn how to zone focus and set up your cameras to a point where you have enough depth of field so that you have no more than 4 zones on a large stage and preferably only 3 zones on a small stage. that makes focusing a lot less of an issue and then you only have to worry about keeping up with lighting changes.

As has been mentioned really try to make it to their tech runs. I actually insist that I be allowed to be there. That's when I make sure my sound equipment is working (no line vs. mic level surprises), determine exposure levels for each number (and get a program ahead of time to write them down in), make notes of where the important solos are, and determine other important details of the show so that I'm not hit with any surprises. It never fails that something will happen that you have to adjust to but at least you've done your best to try to mitigate it.

A successful Hollywood DP once gave me some of the best advice I've ever gotten. He said as a DP your job is to be able to consistently deliver the picture that your Director is asking you for, and the only way to do that is to practice, plan, and to prepare.

He was referring to shooting a movie but his advice definitely holds true for producing anything.

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Old February 7th, 2012, 03:24 PM   #11
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

There is real world advice here, and I love the idea of giving the wide angle camera as a separate item. I thought it was only me who did this. One extra advantage of the dress rehearsal is to check the lighting they are using. There's little you can do about it, but it's very important to know about any numbers that will cause you problems if sprung upon you the first time you see it with the audience there.

I never have any problem with dance sync. If people sing live, then a decent sync point is necessary, but if lights flash, or change colour on a snap cue, this can be used to get the visuals in line with each other.

I differ a little with how I cope with the sound. I will if possible get a feed from the desk - even if it's a little out of control. This will go to just one channel on one camera. The other tracks will give me room sound. The other thing is like mentioned above - grab the tracks they played. The sound ops don't want them, so you have high quality music, a mixed track with any mics, and the audience whooping away.

If your cameras are slightly out of sync, with fast moving dance, you really won't see it - especially if movement direction changes, so in one shot they're travelling left-right, but the close up camera may have a right-left travel, so the mismatch in sync gets lost.

For me, the biggest problem with the shooting and edit is style and purpose. If they are going to flog the dvd to parents, then the number one rule is get ALL the dancers in it! The kids at the back (mainly because they're not good enough to be out front) need to be seen. The difficulty is that given the choice of a decent framed shot of the best dancers, and one obscured by random arms and legs of somebody at the back in the semi-darkness, we always go for the 'stars'. Slow ballet and contemporary work great with fades and gentle movement, while urban street styles and tap are best with straight cuts. The difficulty is deciding if you are making an art product, or a documentary. Get it wrong and they'll hate it. Here in the UK we have a license available for limited production runs of dance with copyright music, so that's not an issue, but worth mentioning.

I note you have two identical cameras which makes colour balance easier, but do check you have the setups identical. Stage lighting can often look very odd. Lighting designers frequently use different coloured lighting for side light and back light - so the front camera can see very different fabric and skin colours. If it's a show that's big and has well designed lighting, then almost certainly you will have very strong side lighting which can shine straight in the lens if you're not expecting it. Cameras out front, but to one side often get blinded.

It's very, very unlikely you'll get the lighting people to change, so that extra rehearsal is when you discover you need to move the camera position.

The sound and lighting people are there for the show, not the video, so while they'll probably try to help you - their job is not to change things for you. A bit tricky, but that's how it is.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 05:17 PM   #12
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Re: First Time Dance Recital Editing question/tips...

Darryn:

You may already have seen these earlier posts, but for anybody else looking for viewpoints on shooting recitals, I've listed three threads that cover a number of other aspects. The last one, in particular, has a lot of discussion about aspects of shooting dance recitals with with two cams. You may want to skip through some of the later posts in the long thread as they are specific to editing with Vegas which you are not using.

Advice on Dance concerts

Anybody here do dance concerts?

Amateur Recital Video Editing
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