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


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Old December 6th, 2013, 08:56 AM   #16
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Then there's the option of going to a community college or other video/film training facility for a year or so.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 02:20 PM   #17
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Hey everyone,

Thanks for all the advice. I do plan on recording audio from the sound board as well as from the camera on the night of the rehearsal, just as if it was the night of the event. I didn't think about a delay in audio, but it would make sense that this would happen. I'll be editing in Adobe Premiere and Audition so I don't think syncing will be an issue. Been there, done that before.

For this event, I think I will simply use two tripods. I may try a monopod on another day, but for this event, I think it would be best to keep it as simple as possible.

Thanks again for all the advice.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 03:33 PM   #18
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Time delay is something you don't think of until you sync up several cameras/clips "perfectly" by audio peaks, then realize that the video is ever so slightly "off" from one cam to the next!

I've found when shooting multicam I'll sync to the peaks/audio, THEN I'll look for a visual "cue" - a movement, a flash, something you can see in all your video "channels", and fine tune the sync to THAT. Of course you then either have to re-sync and nudge the audio, or I've found I just pick the best track and use that one if at all possible, mixing other tracks (and of course re-syncing audio) as needed. Don't forget to make sure the track you pick is matched to any close ups, so you don't make a Japanese monster movie!

Usually, you're only talking "milliseconds", but it's surprising if you aren't thinking in terms of how long it takes time for sound to travel from point A to point B vs. Point A to Point C... the VISUAL cues should be effectively instantaneous, since light moves faster than sound (lighting and thunder!). We'll ignore that there can be a little offset between several cameras shooting at 60 frames per second that are recording at different milliseconds of that second... but if you sometimes can't quite seem to get video PERFECT, there ya go!

Add to this any "acoustical quirks" of a given room/venue and audio can be quite the fun handful!
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Old December 7th, 2013, 04:29 PM   #19
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

NLE's will frame sync the video so getting the video in sync between cameras is less of a problem. Audio is different altogether and for me takes a lot of time to sort out for the theatre shows. Picking the best sound source for any particular scene and then making sure it is in sync with the video as the sound source can be either from a camera or a mic closer to the stage or from a mixing board that has other delays. I rough sync to audio then in Edius ( my main editor ) move into multicam so I can see all the cameras in the same preview monitor and nudge them into video sync. Audio, even channel 1 and 2 off the same camera if from different sources can be out over a frame. Both may be late if shot from the back of a large hall. I usually then edit audio in Vegas ( slide, stretch or squeeze into sync) and Sound Forge and then return with the mixed audio to finish edit in Edius. I edit with VA tracks so that I can do a rough check to see that sync is consistently "in sync" with the source closeup camera audio as lip sync is the most disturbing to be off.

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Old December 7th, 2013, 05:37 PM   #20
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Ron annd Dave thanks for that
I use edius 6.52 and plural eyes to sync multi cams. Usually everything goes well but once in a while they just won't sync and now you've giver me better insight as to why
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Old December 19th, 2013, 10:12 PM   #21
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Just got back from the rehearsal and had some audio problems that I didn't expect.

I found out a friend of mine is big on audio recording, been doing it for years, and he volunteered to help me record the concert. He recommended a couple pencil condensor microphones, so I picked some up. MXL 991 and MXL 441. The two have identical specs. We shot with those two plugged directly into the Canon XA10, and adjusted levels accordingly. What resulted was a lot of what sounds like clipping, even though it is at -6db. I'm not sure what I did wrong. The built in attenuators were not on.

audio problem - YouTube

Everything sounds perfect to me up till about 10 seconds in, then the music builds and as it gets louder, the mics get cut off. Can anyone explain why this happened?

PS the venue records the event to a USB via their own microphones. My friend suggested postioning ours in a similar place to the others, so they were literally inches away. Would this have effected them?
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Old December 20th, 2013, 04:32 PM   #22
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Those are very inexpensive mics. This is a guess without seeing your setup but it sounds to me like distortion coming in from sound outside the pickup pattern. Was there a wall or hard surface behind the mic placement? All of that amplified sound bouncing around can cause sound to come from behind the pickup pattern and distort regardless of your level.

You have two cameras. Put one of them on auto and use the on camera mic. That is not something I would normally recommend. I am suggesting it only to give you an insurance track in case you donít get a good record for the show. Are you monitoring with good headphones? You should be able to hear that kind of distortion unless you are right next to the PA.

If you still have time post this in the audio section. There are guys there far better than me.

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Old December 21st, 2013, 02:59 PM   #23
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Where exactly were they placed? They won't be affected by other devices and although to expensive, they're actually pretty good. The noise is at the bass end - was the bass in the room excessive? It sounds to me like you were recording the PA and the subs just kicked in, and your gain was either preset too high, or the volume was simply too high for auto gain? The mics are also showing a very odd polar pattern in the specs, almost omni, rather than cardioid which is a bit odd?

I suspect a PA with mega sub content, and just a bit of overcooking in the gain dept. recording already amplified music is always a compromise - get the audio from the desk!
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Old December 21st, 2013, 06:58 PM   #24
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Can't be 100% certain, but I "think" I heard two distinct problems happening? Keep in mind this was a short clip, and at first I wasn't sure WHAT could be happening!

There was what sounded like some sort of signal type interference like I'd expect from a wireless that was getting "stomped" by a secondary signal source close to the frequency - that was between :20 and :22... Were you using wireless, or were your cable runs long and near other potential sources of interference (I've seen fluorescents and bad A/C runs cause havoc, as well as nearby radio signals).

The rest sounded like "something" in the signal chain was clipping a bit - could be the mics, could be the gain settings, could be the cameras preamps/compressors. Not as bad as problem #1, but noticeable if you have been in audio...

I concur on the idea of running one camera with onboard mics and letting it "auto" the best it can - it still may clip, but as long as everyone close to it is reasonably quiet during the performances, it "should" offer a passable backup since you seem to be having problems with your "primary".

I'd still see if the audio guy can provide a house mix recording too...
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Old December 22nd, 2013, 06:23 AM   #25
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Because of the pitch being exactly what I expected, I assumed that to be a bass note - very, very loud. Could of course be anything, but with 88 notes to choose from, interference starting on exactly one pitch from the song key seems a bit lottery number ish.
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Old December 22nd, 2013, 06:06 PM   #26
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

I was suspecting outside interference because the "note" simply didn't seem to quite fit into the song, unless something else was set very wrong, so that whatever "instrument" issued the tone/note/noise (I am reminded of the "well executed fart" analogy) stomped everything else in the mix.

What I heard in that short clip didn't make sense to me at first. I've done live audio many times, and had to track many "mystery noises"... and I still suspect that there are TWO things that were causing problems. You never know without being there...

I'm reminded of a show in an old theater, where there was a large airspace under the "stage", and when a guitarist who was of the "turn it all to 11" philosophy cranked the bass knob on his amp (back when amps were not tiny little digital "interfaces", but rather large heavy boxes with hot glowy things inside...), the whole dang stage became a gigantic "horn" and the already difficult mix became quite unruly (back to the "fart" analogy)! Audio is SO much fun!
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Old December 25th, 2013, 06:51 PM   #27
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Hey everyone!

Thanks so much for your opinions/thoughts on the problem. I talked to the guys running sound that day, and the guy who was supposed to help me with sound (but ended up being more of a burden). They said they would record a house mix onto USB (which failed to record the entire first half) and I decided to take what limited knowledge I had of audio and adjust my levels without talking to the guy that I was planning on working with (who dropped out the day of the performance). So I turned on the attenuator on the XA10, set the levels as best I could and let it go. I also moved the mics away from the sound booth. They were previously 2-5 inches away from the outside of the booth, so I angled them to be more like 12-16 inches from the booth. This helped immensely. I'm not sure if it was just turning on the attenuators, or moving the mics, but something ended up working and here is a clip of the audio for you all: BMHA Christmas Concert - Audio Preview - YouTube
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Old December 26th, 2013, 03:31 AM   #28
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

The following are based on my personal preferences and should not be taken as good advice. Listen to the wiser words of others who comment here.


For your master camera ( wide shot ) :-


Try to avoid places where people close to you in the rear seats are going to get up and block too much of your view. However because all such events are interactive, you do not want to exclude all audience from all the camera views at any one time.

Try to avoid being in or near a pedestrian traffic area, especially if the floors are elevated platforms made of frame and wood. Your tripod will shake. Improvised public gallery seating and access-ways in re-purposed buildings can be the worst.

Try to avoid false verticals and horizontals when you set up. To the camera, no stage is going to present itself as a perfect rectangle to the camera view. Some cameras do not always mount squarely in reference to the levelling bubble on the tripod head. In the darkness of an arena with a stage curtained and unlit, it is not always easy to sort these things out. If you get a chance at a rehearsal, use it

My personal preference after trimming with the bubble is to check against any known true vertical edge in the shot, dead-centre in the camera view, not off to the side using frame edge to line it up. The frame edge will always mislead you due to perspective, lens distortion.

Your chances of finding a true horizontal edge in the view for a reference, exactly on the same level as your viewpoint are remote. Because you are unlikely to be exactly on a horizontal or vertical centreline from the stage through the auditorium, any view you have of the stage "frame" itself will more likely present the stage "frame" to the camera as a trapezoid shape.

There will be a perspective effect, however slight, in play. Referencing to the upper "frame" edge of the stage itself may seem almost natural but the perspective will make the lower edge of the stage "frame" very un-natural.

Be aware that sometimes, large spans in reinforced concrete balconies may bend under load as an audience moves in and tilt your camera ever so slightly but enough after setting up to spoil the look when it comes to horizontals. In composing my shots I try to avoid having any stage "frame" edge too close to my image frame edges.

Test what you see in the camera viewscreen with what you actually get by shooting a test frame inked onto a card with edges hard against your viewscreen edges. You may be surprised just how much your camera sensor sees that you do not in the viewscreen, especially with camcorders.


If it is possible for you to get a separate master recording from the mixing desk, do it. Sort this out well beforehand. The sound guy has his job to do and your clean feed is not his priority unless the organisation makes it part of the deal.

The designers of the audio sections of many modern digital camera of all flavours seem to have almost disdained established audio conventions which go back years. An industry standard of "unity gain" is often ignored. Trying to get decent feed levels into non-compliant camera audio systems may compromise the rest of the sound guy's previously hard-won settings and balances.

He may therefore not be very patient with you, especially if you come in at the last minute with the apologetic look of a whipped beagle expecting favours.

It is nearly always file-based digital recorders these days. MAKE SURE, whoever is doing the recording, stops the recording with recorder controls so the file closes off correctly. If the recorder is still running when all the appliances are turned off, you will lose that recording.

Audio continuity is king and a clean master/backup audio recording will save your bacon if for any reason all sound to cameras is contaminated.

You can always lay auditorium camera sound over a clean performance recording for atmosphere but going the other way is near-impossible.


If I am confronted with the impossible and have to manage several cameras myself without a mixing panel, my personal preference is to have a locked off wide master shot with a third camera if possible and to set the other two cameras, near to each other. If I only have the pair, I will try, if I can get some co-operation, to shoot safety cutaways and fillers prior to and after the show before everyone scatters.

For court ceremonial sittings and some stage events, where the camera presence must be discreet, my personal preference is to set the cameras close and alternate the cameras as master wide and close-up. I do this so that I can get cleaner cuts without cutting on partial zooms and apparently unmotivated camera motion whilst chasing a better frame after people move.

You really need to have rehearsal time or familiarity with a fixed ceremony or process to do this adequately.

I was really up against it with this one, no opportunity for prior preparation. It was a pro-bono and was rushed, 47 minutes running time, cut together manually by 36 hours after shooting.

Fortunately the guitar guy is familiar with mixing for live-gigs and managed the audio feed for me, even managed to graph out most of the dreadful highway traffic noise. You will observe continuity errors with the guitars but if I had not shot what safeties I could after the event concluded it would have been much worse.

I am prepared to fess up. I accidentally gave the second tripod a kick which is the cause of the discontinuity. - Actually a partial kick complexed by my trouser cuff catching on the hooked foot of the tripod leg and finishing the job.


Last edited by Bob Hart; December 26th, 2013 at 03:49 AM. Reason: error
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Old January 28th, 2014, 04:03 PM   #29
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

Hey guys! Thanks so much for all the help/advice. I've been working on this for the past couple weeks (editing wise) and wanted to thank all of you for the tips. I'm very glad I was able to get feedback before shooting this concert. Definitely made a significant impact on the quality I was able to achieve with this video.

Quick update: I was approached by the director about putting together a full edit of the video before I left after shooting the concert. It took me by surprise because I was only planning on doing a highlight video, but thanks to everyone's advice on here, I shot like I was going to edit the full thing, so I was able to say yes. I have that done, and ready to go. I created a DVD with motion menus, two highlight videos (one 1m and the other 2m), and scene selection. I planned to give a free copy of the DVD to the director, however she approached me this week about getting 12 copies, one for every member of the cast/crew. I have the materials for such a job, but am hesitant to give them away for free. So I asked her if she would be willing to pay for them, she told me to name my price. This brings me back to you all, I don't know what a DVD like this is worth. For reference, here is a picture of the completed DVD and case:

Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

And a higher quality of the DVD cover itself:

DVD Cover Version 2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I am unsure what to ask. I have the materials to make approx 40 DVDs and I spent $110 on all the materiasl (ink included). This brings me to $2.75 per DVD. However, my goal is to make some of my money back on this product. Is it reasonable to ask $5? $10? Somewhere in between?

EDIT: Overall, for the entire concert, I spent a total of $654.97 on this project. I spent 424.70 on the rentals/equipment to shoot it. I spent $110.30 on the physical DVD materials. Then I spent $119.97 on music licenses for the DVD menu and highlight videos.
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Old January 28th, 2014, 05:12 PM   #30
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Re: First time shooting a concert (questions)

You'll probably get responses from $20-40... based on what others have posted, and what most people charge for a copy of a well shot and edited "event" video.

$5-10 likely undervalues the time and effort significantly, and if the end product is quality (esp vs. "prior" videography), it might be reasonable for a short "run" of disks - you mentioned 12, but I've had requests for a short run that quickly turned into 100+.... you may want to feel that out before you quote a price, as quantity can offset the per piece price!

edit: It occurred to me that if you were producing say 100 pieces, $10 might well become a viable price point for this "first time" project, so perhaps you should at least float the higher price, and be prepared to offer a better one with quantity?
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