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

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Old June 1st, 2007, 01:35 PM   #1
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Any Advice For Filming Live Concerts?

A local band wants my crew to film a concert. This would be our first such project. Any advice? Helpful tips?
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Old June 1st, 2007, 02:53 PM   #2
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Talk with the lighting director so you are both on the same page and there's nothing unexpected.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 07:11 AM   #3
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The hardest part is getting a quality audio recording. A stellar video does little when the sound quality is poor, clipped highs or muddy lows. Always get an unmixed audio signal from the band's sound system. Then get a good sound technician to run the mixer into your cam. If you don't want to involve another person, use the mixed audio signal from the band's tape outs.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 07:22 AM   #4
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Welcome to DVinfo Joshua! See the following list of threads about shooting live performances:
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 08:58 AM   #5
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To be fair, none of those threads really apply specifically to shooting rock bands in clubs. (Assuming that's what this gentleman is after).

There's definetely some useful information in those threads, and other threads on this board that he can search through to find answers he needs too...but since this one's open I'll throw in my amateurish 2 cents.

I've been doing videotaping rock bands in clubs for years now since I've had a cheap handycam. A huge step-up in production quality was when I started going multi-cam and using professional mics. The more cameras you can use, the better your end result will be when you edit it all together. Not to mention, each camera can have another mic and you'll have greater redundancy and increasing the chances of winding up with useable audio.....which can be quite tough.

Soundboard mixes are fine, but not great...often instruments are missing and it's uneven. I like audience recordings, so proper placement of a good mic is essential. Make sure your levels aren't distorting by using a good pair of Sony MDR-7506s. I would run all your tests while the opening band is playing since you'll want to be good and prepared by the time the band you're there to record is going on.

One more thing I've noticed recently. I had an HDR-FX7 camera set up as my B-cam on a Manfrotto 755B tripod w/ 503 head... it was set up near the stage and I found out later when reviewing the footage that the vibrations of the bass ran up the tripod and caused things to be constantly out of focus and jittery. It was unusable. And therefore, it became a single-camera shoot that day. Single-cam shoots aren't too professional, so that project was pretty much scrapped. So maybe the moral of the story is to go handheld instead of tripod. Although I tend to think having one camera on a tripod is best, after that experience it seems a little risky.

Although perhaps if I just made the steadyshot feature on the camera more aggresive this could have solved things. I'm not so sure though.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 10:04 AM   #6
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A lot depends on the circumstance and "control" you have over the club conditions. I've done many 3 camera concert shoots with Sony PD-170. Club lighting stinks for the most part. Parts of the stage may be hot and other parts very dark. I like the 170 because it can handle very dark situations.

Make sure you OWN the places where you place the cameras. Keep people away even if you have to "shoulder" them. Do NOT put the cameras near heavy vibrations. Cameras MUST ALWAYS be maned and "active." I'm not sure how someone can put an FX-7 near the an area with heavy bass and not expect shake and not have someone there to move the camera.

Have coordinated "zones" so you don't get the same shot on all 3 cameras. I usually give each camera a couple of assignments - wider and closer of a given section of the band.

If anyone goes hand held they need to be mindful that they may be in another camera's shot.

NEVER rely on camera shotgun (although I did this once for a folk performance in a really quiet acoustically well designed venue). In an idea world you'd get a multitrack recording. Fall back is a clean board feed to a separate recording device. Club mixes are generally NOT right for recording, they're done for the room though. You can cheat by mixing in appropriate camera sound to add "live" feel and bost and instrument in that camera's "region." That's a cheat though. All camera people should monitor sound on good headphones as the one mentioned in another post. Make sure there's no distortion (which can be either a camera pre-amp or mic issue).

Always give yourself an hour or so to set up and be prepared to do it while another band is performing.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 11:03 AM   #7
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I've had good success by mounting my own microphones in front of and overhead of the stage. When I use my own mic's, I usually run them thru a compression stage before recording, especially the vocals.The problem, here, is that you'll have your hands full running both camera and audio controls, ESPECIALLY if you're shoulder mounted. You pretty much NEED another set of hands and ears to do the audio mixing if you do the cam work. As an absolute minimum, if you're going thru this much effort to mic the musicians, put the vocals on one track and everthing else on another track, then mixdown in post. You don't get the opportunity to mix the individual instruments, but, a lot of tuning of the instrumental can be done with a good EQ shaper. Room acoustics can also be greatly overcome with a good EQ shaper. Things like echo and reverb, however, are pretty much cast in concrete. Selective placement of your mics, beforehand, will avoid those problems.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 12:11 PM   #8
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Well, since I am completely new at not only concert filming but pretty much any event filming, (done a few amature attempts that showed me how difficult it really is) can I ask someone to give me a short (and relatively cheap) list of equipment to go about a concert filming? At this time I have only an RCA 8mm video camcorder, old tripod from the 80's that came with god-knows-what and one battery good for maybe an hour. Oh, and no cash flow. So, all that aside, anyone know what gear I would need?

(To answer Craig Irving, yes, rock bands in clubs. I know the lead guitarist of the band and they have wanted me to film them for some time.)
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