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shooting comedians


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#1 otakumotion

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Posted 13 August 2006 - 11:44 PM

i was just hired to shoot a live comedy show. i'm going to do this with two dv cameras. any tips for this sort of shooting and the ensuing editing?
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#2 David Gottlieb

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 11:09 AM

i was just hired to shoot a live comedy show. i'm going to do this with two dv cameras. any tips for this sort of shooting and the ensuing editing?


Just finished shooting in a 5-camera live comedy show shoot. Besides trying to get a third cam & operator (at least), I would have one set up facing the stage directly that will shoot the comedian exclusively in frame, and if you only have one more you can either position it side by side to the other and use it for CUs to cut to OR have it be near to the stage so you can see some audience OR you can have it be a rover gettng shots from multiple angles throughout the shoot making it seem like you had more cameras then you did. The only danger of the final option is that when you move from spot to spot those shots are generally unusable and it requires a great deal of refocusing as you move farther and nearer to the comedian. I suggest watching Robin Williams Live on Broadway to get an idea of shot positions you could set up. Dave Chappelle's Block Party had a more unusual setup with a camera far back for wide and close shots and then a cam right in front of stage for audience perspective - only problem is you can see the near stage camera on the wide shots. Best of luck, and as with all live events, the more coverage the better! Try to get one or two more cameras, people with DV cameras aren't too hard to find.

Also, make sure both cameras start taping at least a minute apart so both dont run out at the same time which will make continuity in the editing room impossible. Have one film lines outside or est. shots so they are on different time tracks.

Edited by David Gottlieb, 14 August 2006 - 11:12 AM.

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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 11:29 AM

i was just hired to shoot a live comedy show. i'm going to do this with two dv cameras. any tips for this sort of shooting and the ensuing editing?



Everything David said was great. :) If you can't find another operator, at least find another camera to do your wide lockoff of the stage.

Then use the other two cameras for CUs. One from the wide position, just covering the talent tighter.
Those two looking at the stage can't block any seats so you'll have to have a long lens to drive in for that CU. A very good tripod will be an amazing thing. Avoid those cheapy miniDV ones they push out there.

The other is for a roaming handheld third angle near the stage that can pick off audience reactions as well as the occasional "up" angle on the talent. If you can get that stage camera up on the stage, maybe peeking in from behind a side curtain, that sometimes works as a kind of over-the-shoulder of the talent back to the audience. We did that with Gallagher a while back.

And like David said, make sure you get those establishers, like the signage out front and people waiting in line. Those audience reactions though will help the editors later on quite a bit, so do what you can to get some light out there without ruining the ambiance.
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 11:36 AM

Just finished shooting in a 5-camera live comedy show shoot.

Your signature says more in eleven words than a three hour harangue on video compression - good job!
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#5 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 12:52 PM

I produce stand up on an ongoing basis. 5 cameras is prety much the standard configuration. But we do 2 camera HD shoots all the time when the budget won't allow for 5. The best option is to have your main camera shoot the comic in a waist shot and the second camera to do mostly audience reaction shots. If the second camera can get close enough to the stage have them shoot about a minute of over the comic to the audience for each comic so you can't see the comic's face. Shooting this way you always get the jokes and have plenty of reaction shots to cut back to for pull ups and a quick 2nd angle when you want to mix it up. I would not worry about a wide or a lock off if you are shooting in a club, since it often has that "mystery science theater" look (with a dark audience infront of the stage) and therefore tends not to cut as well. Also stand up in most cases plays better in an MCU, you just need to keep an eye out for the really physical comics who move around a lot etc, they are a bit harder to deal with.
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Visual Products

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