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

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Old August 19th, 2011, 07:21 AM   #1
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coordinating camera movements

I'm shooting some singers with 3 cameras. the camera operators are not communicating via headset. I don't want to just make one camera close-up, one medium, etc.

so I'm looking for techniques or strategies to guide the production. If I let each camera do it's own thing, they might all have close-ups at the same time - or move at the same time.

anyone have a solution for this situation?

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Old August 19th, 2011, 07:33 AM   #2
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Re: coordinating camera movements

This is a problem we had doing toasts at weddings...a little bit different, but we came up with this solution...give each camera operator a range of shots...we have two cameras, so one frames chest up - closeups, and the other does wide - chest up. That way they can have a range of shots, move around and not leave the cameras on stationary wide, medium and close ups. Just make sure you establish which camera's doing what before everything starts.

Also, regarding movement...we don't ever use headsets to communicate...we either make eye contact before one or the other makes a big move, or just make your move useful! Always shoot as if you are the only camera running, and you will find that your moves will be much more careful and motivated.
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Old August 19th, 2011, 07:50 AM   #3
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Re: coordinating camera movements

We use headsets but not to talk, not during those key moments but we use it to beep each other. We then look and use hand signals to say what we are after.

Headsets are also good as sometimes the other shooter isnt in your line of sight, infact. Normally we avoid line of sight.

Midland walkie talkies with secret service ear pieces. For julie her hair hides it totally and for me you just have the clear tube in your ear.
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Old August 19th, 2011, 01:08 PM   #4
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Re: coordinating camera movements

If you can, establish 3 wireless video monitors in a common place, where all camera operators can see what the other person is shooting.
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Old August 19th, 2011, 02:01 PM   #5
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Re: coordinating camera movements

We've done a lot of band work and doing "one takes" on a live performance and "following the action" is real tough. We typically shot 4 cams, one locked wide, one locked tight on center stage and two shooting B Roll. Depending on how animated the vocalists are, is going to determine on what you concentrate on. Camera A on Vocalist A, Camera B on Vocalist B and Camera C on Vocalist C is going to get pretty boring. But, it's the safest way to shoot it.

If you have the time, grab your camera this weekend and go find a bar with a rock band playing. Then settle in kinda close to the stage and after it cranks up, fire up the camera and try to follow "the action" on the stage with a medium to tight shot. You are going to see that no matter how well you think you know what is being played, you are going to miss the first few notes of tons of sections. When it breaks into a big drum part, you'll miss the beginning. When the lead guitarist steps up, you are going to get caught off guard. When it gets back to the soloist, if it is at all fast paced you are going to miss some of that too.

I guarantee you, it will be a humbling experience, but nothing I and a whole pile of other people haven't experienced a ton of times before. In fact I experience it every time out.

What you will gain from this will be an idea of how different shooting performers can be. When you are back home watching your clips, try to make yourself think about how you could be shooting and directing others on what to get all at the same time. My guess is you will find it next to impossible.

That brings us back to one cam per vocalist, and also I highly suggest begging, borrowing or stealing a 4th to do a locked down wide "insurance" shot.

Good luck with your gig!
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Old August 27th, 2011, 09:01 AM   #6
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Re: coordinating camera movements

That's what rehearsals are for. Work out guidelines for each camera as others have suggested and try them out at the run-through. Debrief the crew and agree what could be improved and work out some safety nets. There's really no substitute for knowing the performance and scripting the shots but the advice already given should help.

You will always need to allow for the unexpected - blocked shots or worse. The advice about each camera operator working on the assumption that every shot is going to be needed is very good.

Last edited by Colin McDonald; August 27th, 2011 at 03:20 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 11:14 AM   #7
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Re: coordinating camera movements

Originally Posted by Katie Fasel View Post
Always shoot as if you are the only camera running, and you will find that your moves will be much more careful and motivated.
I like to take a different approach at weddings and events, I have one camera, either locked or with an operator who is responsible for maintaining a safe shot, then the other operators work within a set of guidelines, CU, MS, WS, bride, groom, couple & audience etc. shooting what is appropriate. With some knowledge of the event it allows a much more rich cut in post. If I shoot like I'm the only camera when I'mn not I miss moments and/or have a video filled with deliberate slow moves instead of clean cuts.

Just my two cents there. Granted how you shoot is very much dependent on the number shooters, their skill set, the venue etc.
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