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multicamera with HD concert shoot


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#1 Mark Allen

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 12:31 AM

So, I have to bid an HD multicamera concert shoot this weekend... nice that I find this out after the rental houses close. :)

I do NOT need to live switch - the switching can/will all be done in post. I WOULD need to monitor all the camera feeds from outside of the theater though.

Does anyone have any experience putting one of these things together and can share some info like... about what it costs to do this... is it just the usual gear plus some really long cables and monitors to watch them?

I'm not even sure of what to ask beyond that at this point.
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#2 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 02:24 AM

So, I have to bid an HD multicamera concert shoot this weekend... nice that I find this out after the rental houses close. :)

I do NOT need to live switch - the switching can/will all be done in post. I WOULD need to monitor all the camera feeds from outside of the theater though.

Does anyone have any experience putting one of these things together and can share some info like... about what it costs to do this... is it just the usual gear plus some really long cables and monitors to watch them?

I'm not even sure of what to ask beyond that at this point.


One thing that will make your life a bit easier is using a quad so one big monitor can be split into four windows, one for each camera. If the monitor is a stereo TV VCR you can then do a live recording of all four cameras and if the TV records HI-FI stereo you could actually get a decent back up of the audio mix.

What may bite in the but are your cans that allows everyone to communicate with you as you call out camera angles, many times this aspect of a live shoot gets overlooked. Your audio mix, sub mixes and iso's are hugely important, and being able to shade all the cameras from a central location is critical.

I assume you are talking about a 20,000-30,000 dollar budget minimum, and that's assuming you are not responsible for the lighting.
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 03:28 AM

I filmed a musical with three cameras once. It came out really good EXCEPT for sound. I made the mistake of NOT recording the sound seperately. (give me a break, it was my first multi camera, live action shoot) We had plugged our main, stationary camera into the mixing board and apparently into the wrong port. sence each tape was a 60 minute tape and the play was 2 and a half hours long, I staggered the camera rolls so we wouldn't all have to change cassettes at the same time so as a result the first 6 minutes of the show AND the opening number was caught only on one camera's on-board mic and it was NOT good sound. The main camera was tied into one particular actor's mic and was useless. My camera, as I was up in the catwalks recording what turned out to be from a very good vantage point, actually got GREAT sound, but I had the oldest and least reliable camera and had to change batteries as WELL as changing tapes plus if there was no deicent shot I quit filming, unaware of the sound problem. As a result there were some gaps,(less than one might expect) in the good audio portion of the shoot. We filled in with the bad stuff, cleaned up as best we could and the client accepted it BUT it was an embarressment to do that kind of work though the images were increadable. So make sure you record sound separately.

We also had radio head sets and spoke very low announcing which shot we had or were going to. We knew exactly what each other was going to shoot and I could let the other guy know what shot I wanted to get for editing purposes. I told the cameramen before-hand that If they saw a terrific shot just shoot it and let me know what they were doing so we could adjust our shots and have a veriety of coverage. This worked out wonderfully well because the guys could see shots coming I might not have caught on the monitors had we had them. One guy might have the close-up annother had the wide shot and I might have the 2 shot, and so on, so when I went to edit, I always had something interesting to go to. I purposely shot a veriety of "audence reaction" shots (laughing, whispering, looking intently at the stage, anything I thought might be used as a reaction to something that was going on in the play at any given time) before the show as cut-aways just in case, THOUGH I didn't have to use the footage except in the beginning as part of the establishing sequence before the play began. So I would say make SURE your guys have radio headsets and you get a variety of coverage, including something that can be used for cut-aways. I had planned to use small video transmitters that attached to the cameras and recievers with a monitors so I could run the shoot like a television show but this being El Paso, nobody freakin' had them so we just went with the head sets.

Another disaster was that we had originally had 4 cameras for the shoot, but this soon changed. I had one inexpirenced guy who was going to run a camera that was set on auto and locked down on a tripod in a master-shot so all he had to do was hit the button to roll the camera, look though the viewfinder occationally and change the tape. Well, apparently, this proved to be nuclear physics for him as he managed to put the camera out of commission for 3 months. "HOW?" you might ask, well let me eloaborate. I asked him IF he knew how to load the tape, which isn't too difficult, it's a JVC GY-500, identical to mine. You set it into the top slot and the camera basically loads it's self. When the tape is full, you hit the red eject button next to the slot and it pops out, you remove the tape and repeat the process with a fresh tape. I ASKED the guy and I quote: " DO YOU KNOW HOW TO LOAD THIS CAMERA?" BEFORE giving him the camera. His reply was an emphatic "YES I DO!!!!" THEN this guy PROCEEDS to load the tape in sideways! The camera, not knowing this guy is an idiot and the tape is sideways, merrily pulls it inside, breaking the mechanism and royally f#cking up the head, so the machine, now a cool looking, 6000 dollar paper weight, has to be sent to California for repairs and it takes 3 MONTHS to get it back. I made the guy who broke it, pay for the repairs, but the cameraman who OWNS the camera won't work with me anymore.... Go figure! So hire people who know what in the F#CK they're doing.

Also, I had the oportunity to see the play the day before so I knew what to expect, where people were going to be in their blocking, what the lighting conditions were going to be like, where the songs came in what preceeded the action scenes. THIS was invaluable. Had my tech guy attended as he was suppose to, we would have had the chance to find out which port the sound SHOULD have been plugged into.

We also lit a boxing match for Telemundo at the Speaking Rock Casino a while back. Their set-up was basically 3 cameras on pedestals set up on parrallels about 6 ft off the groung and one camera flown on a crane out over the audence all cabled back to the control trailer, with our genny providing power for everything but the house lights. I don't know it that helps BUT, that's how they did it.

Do they have room in the lighting booth for you monitors?
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#4 Ralph Oshiro

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 04:58 AM

My $0.04:

I produced/directed a pretty bare-bones, HDCAM live concert using four Sony HDW-F900s a few months ago. You probably know most of this stuff already, but here's what I did. We basically had four iso-ed F900 packages. I put one camera on each side of the stage, one with a wide angle, and one with a standard lens--the idea being, one camera gets all the close, wide shots, the other gets all the close-ups. For interest, I rented dutch heads for both side cameras. Even though I had four totally pro operators, I didn't want any "shaky" handheld shots--I wanted really precision-framed shots. The dutch head I rented required a minimum Sacthler 7+7 as a primary head, to be able support the added weight of the dutch head. The center camera I had on a track dolly, traversing the length of the stage. The master "safety" camera was on sticks near the mixing console. We also had rented a standard PL system (more cable to lay!). As far as video was concerned, this is all what I worried about technically . . .

1. Jam synced all cameras by walking an arbitrary "master" camera to each camera, and stinging its TC-out BNC into the target camera's TC-in, (then setting the target camera to "free run") to jam sync.
2. Make sure all cameras are either already SDI-out capable or that you have rented the appropriate accessory to get SDI out of your HD camera (this is ONLY for monitoring--all cameras record locally).
3. Make sure all of your HD preview monitors are SDI monitors.
4. In essence, make sure NOTHING is component, otherwise, you'll be stringing miles of component BNC cable of exactly the same length, just to see your pictures.

When on a small budget, and you don't have dedicated A2s working all your audio bugs out, if at all possible--DO NOT RELY ON THE HOUSE MIXER!!! Plan to mic and mix for your own sound. Send that audio to as many cameras as is practical (I would send it to at least two--one for back-up). You're jam synced, so you should be able to lay down the synched track later to any cameras that aren't receiving program audio. Throw up camera mic on those not receiving audio for reference.

So to sum up, the essentials were . . .

x4 HDW-F900 camera heads
x4 HDCA-901 HD-SDI adapters (or equivalent)
x3 standard lenses
x1 wide-angle lens
x4 HD-SDI monitors
x4 single-muff RTS headsets
x2 double-muff RTS headsets
x2 dutch heads
x4 fluid heads/sticks
x1 track dolly

Each F900 package, I think ran us about $800/day. But expect to pay as much as $1,200/day. Plus whatever the HD-SDI adapter rents for. I didn't pay for it, so I don't know how much the ancillary gear added up to. I think the show turned out looking great for such a bargain-basement budget, thanks to the inexpensive track dolly, and relatively affordable added cost for the dutch heads--lotta added production value for the money there, especially since we didn't have the money or space for a jib.
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 09:10 AM

In any multi-camera project I do, sound uses a multi-track deck to split the audio as best as possible and I let them drive the timecode for everything from their own machines. It also can help to have a timecode slate jammed to the TC source, then leave the sticks open so the TC can be seen running in view of the cameras but off-camera. It's old-school to shoot visual TC, but if the cameras aren't physically cabled to the TC driving source, the TC can drift on occasion, particularly if you have to change batteries or switch off for some reason.
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#6 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 09:57 AM

If anyone gets LA 36 in Los Angeles next weekend they are broadcasting "FAUST" twice, which basically fits the criteria of what you are trying to do and was probably the barest of budgets one could work with. It was originally shot in the early 90's and was a trial by fire for me. It might even be streamable over the internet, check out LA36.org. Faust is airing March 7th, Saturday night at 10PM, and March 8th, Sunday 9AM.

You might want to look into hiring a company that does these kind of shoots full time. It does cost more but they come with everything you need on flypacks. On the other hand, you may be bidding against these very companies for this job!
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 03:19 PM

I agree with everything Ralph said except for this part:

When on a small budget, and you don't have dedicated A2s working all your audio bugs out, if at all possible--DO NOT RELY ON THE HOUSE MIXER!!! Plan to mic and mix for your own sound.


Properly miking and mixing an entire concert is not something that can be done by a video crew on a small budget! There's a reason the concert production has so much gear and people...

I do agree that you need to provide your own backup for audio synch, but don't expect to get good music recording on your own. Make sure you work something out with the concert people (well ahead of time) to get a recording of the audio track(s) to lay back in post.

The last concert I did (3 Varicams, unswitched) we had the concert sound mixer record multitrack audio, that was later mixed specially for the video.
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 03:22 AM

I agree with everything Ralph said except for this part:
Properly miking and mixing an entire concert is not something that can be done by a video crew on a small budget! There's a reason the concert production has so much gear and people...

I do agree that you need to provide your own backup for audio synch, but don't expect to get good music recording on your own. Make sure you work something out with the concert people (well ahead of time) to get a recording of the audio track(s) to lay back in post.

The last concert I did (3 Varicams, unswitched) we had the concert sound mixer record multitrack audio, that was later mixed specially for the video.


Ironically both scenarios are equally valid. The house mix is generally not a good mix for the video, yet the house usually has first dibs on mike placement and they do know their own venue, so getting an unmixed feed from the house can be very useful. The problem is they usually only have one or two channels that they can send to the video. What scares me most is when the house mixing board is not XLR in AND XLR out.
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 06:24 PM

Ironically both scenarios are equally valid. The house mix is generally not a good mix for the video, yet the house usually has first dibs on mike placement and they do know their own venue, so getting an unmixed feed from the house can be very useful. The problem is they usually only have one or two channels that they can send to the video. What scares me most is when the house mixing board is not XLR in AND XLR out.



Well, if the "house" or touring sound mixer can't provide a decent audio output (at least 2-channel XLR), there's only so much you can do unless you want to add live concert sound recording/mixing into your bid...

Regardless of the type of music, don't underestimate the complexity of live concert sound. Drum miking alone is an art, let alone properly miking and mixing EVERY acoustic and electronic instrument/effect in the mix. Getting good music recording is best left to the concert production, not a small video crew.

For other types of events on stage you have more leway to capture your audio. But for music, I wouldn't even go there. Again, the best protection is to work this out with the concert production well in advance.
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#10 Bill Totolo

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 03:46 AM

Find out what the house fee is. You want to make sure you own the master rights and not the board op. You have to cover your behind when it comes to "errors and omissions" insurance.

Re: the quad display- do you really want to tether your cameramen like that? I guess if you have planty of angles that's fine but if you're limited on cameras make the most of them and let them find coverage for you- just my opinion.

You probably won't be responsible for the lighting but call the lighting tech ahead of time to see if he'll add an ND filter to his spots to bring the exposure latitude down for you. Should be no problem.

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#11 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 04:10 AM

Well, if the "house" or touring sound mixer can't provide a decent audio output (at least 2-channel XLR), there's only so much you can do unless you want to add live concert sound recording/mixing into your bid...

Regardless of the type of music, don't underestimate the complexity of live concert sound. Drum miking alone is an art, let alone properly miking and mixing EVERY acoustic and electronic instrument/effect in the mix. Getting good music recording is best left to the concert production, not a small video crew.

For other types of events on stage you have more leway to capture your audio. But for music, I wouldn't even go there. Again, the best protection is to work this out with the concert production well in advance.


I'm referring to the fact that the proper mix for the live audience at a live event will most of the time not be the ideal mix for the video feed. It's the house mixers primary job to make the sound sound great for the live audience so whatever sound they send to the video crew is open to interpretation. It's extra work for the house mixer to deal with it, yet it's essential to the video crew.

The video sound mixer on "Faust" ran all of his own audio snakes, then split off all of his feeds so the house sound could have a duplicate of his feed to work with. This is not the norm, but it insured complete independence so everyone had what they wanted and no additional mikes had to be put on stage.

Re: the quad display- do you really want to tether your cameramen like that? I guess if you have planty of angles that's fine but if you're limited on cameras make the most of them and let them find coverage for you- just my opinion.


The quad is for master control whether they are live switching the tape or not. Recording the quad to tape lets the director get an instant start on editing choices the next day.
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#12 Ralph Oshiro

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 04:36 AM

Regardless of the type of music, don't underestimate the complexity of live concert sound. Drum miking alone is an art, let alone properly miking and mixing EVERY acoustic and electronic instrument/effect in the mix. Getting good music recording is best left to the concert production, not a small video crew.

Yes, I agree with you, Michael. However, I got the feeling that the original poster was tossed an ultra-low budget gig in his lap without the benefit of proper prepro to iron out those kinds of issues. I just didn't want him to go through the nightmare of depending on the house mixer and end up with no audio (or horribly impedence mis-matched audio). I'm certainly no expert in live concert mic technique or sound reinforcement mixing, but whenever I need a feed from a house board, it's always a nightmare for some reason. Oddly, they never seem to have anywhere near the right impedence or the right mechanical connector. Worse case, mic the PA system, and try to record some kind of SMPTE jam-syncable, second-system sound from the house board.
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#13 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 07:29 AM

If you are weary of the house mix (and 8 times out of 10 you should) you can always bring your own mixer and recorder, mic the instruments you can, and split signal on things like the vocal mics sending one to house and the other to your own. This way you can avoid all the signal tweaks and things that the house guy is doing on your mix.
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#14 Michael Ziersch

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 10:13 AM

May I ask a question?

My friends and I are shooting a hip hop show on friday night, we are using HVR Z1Ps. (A camera I haven't even used before!) The group asked us today if we could provide a video feed from one of the cameras to their in house vision mixer so they can display it on various screens around the venue... but I have no idea how to do it, seeing as we don't particularly know what we are doing. They told me they had aquired some component looms (20m BNC) with assorted adaptors for us to use to run to the mixer.

Is this an easy straight forward thing to do?
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