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Concert multi-cam shoot


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#1 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 09:49 PM

Anybody have any suggestions for how to place 3 cameras to cover a concert at a medium-size club? Each camera is on their own and the footage gets edited together later.

I did this once before and just put the cameras stage left, stage right and one front of house. The FOH shot was really boring but usable. The stage left and right were pretty cool but inevitably there were times where they were both in between shots and/or on the same person (ie both on the drummer during a guitar solo). So I'm hoping to do a little better this time.

This happens to be a 3-piece band, so we do have 1 camera per band member as a possibility. I don't have the luxury of a dolly or crane, just cameras and tripods.

Thanks for any advice.
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#2 Brandon Whiteside

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 11:10 PM

You say that you don't have a dolley or crane, but could your perhaps rent a Steadicam? I have done 3 camera events with a side, front, and steadicam.
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#3 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 01:19 AM

Even if you have to use a digital-8 camcorder to grab ongoing, never cut the camera, handheld shots, with much of it being the audience reacting to the performance, it is important to have it.

I also like putting two cameras next to each other for a simultaneous close up and medium wide shot of the band. Plus these two cameras can communicate easier by being next to each other, even seeing what the other is getting. Be prepared to elevate your cameras so the lens is at least 6.5 to 7 feet off the ground.
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#4 Phil Connolly

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 06:34 AM

Doing a wide shot of the full band is useful since its your backup and you can cut to it at anytime and not miss anything. But your right its a bit boring and if you only have 3 cameras - could limit your choice of shots.

I would perhaps use one camera FOH to get a mid shot of the singer for most of the time, since normally you need that coverage - that could then could grab quick wides as establisher between songs and during instrumental bits - on a big wide you might be able to cheat sync and use the wide over other sections.

I would put a hand held camera on stage - mainly behind the drums so you can get nice close ups on the kit which always look good especially if you have a wide angle lens - from this position you can also get nice over shoulder shots into the crowd.

I'd put the third camera hand held at the front of the stage grabbing different sized closeups - avoiding MS of the singer since you have that on the FOH CAM 1

The main problem is to try not to have cameras repeating shots but if you give the camera ops clear instructions - you can limit this.

CAM 1 FOH: MS singer and big wide instrumental bits and between songs
CAM 2(handheld on stage): OS drums/wide audience band in forground/CU drums
CAM 3 (handheld front of stage): MS/LMS other instrument most of the time/BCU singer every now and again for variety/crowd shots

Zooms are your friend use them to give different size shots - variety is the key - but don't mad you don't want a situation where all the cameras are zooming at the same time - ideally you want to hide the zooms - use the shot of another camera while one camera is changing shot sizes - maybe give one of the cameras a time to change shot - eg be wider on the chorus then the verse.

Get shots of the crowd - the good thing about this is they are non-sync so you can cut them in and cheat the sync to cover bits when you are running out of shots of the band or to hide zooms etc...

Shoot the soundcheck and rehersal if you can - you might be able to cheat in a few tight close ups - cymbals, kickdrum, feet tapping etc- giving more shots.

Learn the set list - then you can give the cam ops notes - eg this shot on that song, that shot on this bit etc... You can prescript the shots and give the cameras camera cards... With a larger budget you could give the camera ops talkback headsets and you could cue the shots eg cam 2 go to shot 11 - BCU kick drum.. This might not be that expensive CB radios with headsets are cheap the rent and would allow everyone to communicate

The better you know the music the more you can break it down and pre-script the camera shots. I make up A5 camara cards with a shot list for each song that can be taped to the cameras so the ops - know what shots to offer - rather then having to remember
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 07:01 AM

I did a 3 can shoot for a musical a little while back, What I did was put one camera stage left behind the crowd shooting from an open space, one camera far left close to the stage, and one camera high in the catwalks to cover the master. I liked that as it gave me a overview of what was happening on stage and I was able to zoom in for a lot of great close ups of the actors. I also had a quick release mount so I could go hand-held and any time and move to another angle almost instantly. NOW the thing I did that made all the difference was I had each operator equipped with a radio with a headset and mic. We would tell each other which shots we were covering and when we were changing shots, what area and who they were shooting in what type of shot so we didn't duplicate shots.

We worked like a well oiled machine even though we had never practice. I DID however, go to the dress rehearsal so I knew what was coming up before hand so I could call what shots I wanted covered. When I went into editing, we had a lot of coverage from various angles and the stuff cut together beautifully. The show was an original musical and about 2 hours long so we staggered the start of each camera by about 3 minutes so we would not all run out at the same time and we announced when we were changing tapes so the others could cover the camera being loaded. It worked perfectly. and we got some amazing shots. I also recommend you record sound separately with mics set toi get the best sound. or a tap into the mixing board and TEST IT PRIOR to the shoot. I made the mistake of using a camera to record sound one time on an event and will never do that again.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 26 October 2009 - 07:05 AM.

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#6 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:20 PM

Phil gave you a lot of good advice.

.....I would put a hand held camera on stage - mainly behind the drums so you can get nice close ups on the kit which always look good especially if you have a wide angle lens - from this position you can also get nice over shoulder shots into the crowd.


This is the tricky aspect. I definitely believe a handheld camera that shows the audience reacting is critical. However, if you go with three cameras, a very small handheld camera is on the dance floor, can't also be behind the drums, which is another great spot as well, unless you only go with one camera pointed at the stage.

The problem with only having one camera pointed at the front of the stage is that camera cannot be at two places at once, so whenever a band member has their own solo, odds are you will still be on the lead, and when you move off of the lead, you may not get back quickly enough when the solo ends. The wider shot of the front of the stage can show off the bands ability to play off of each other, the closer shot creates more interest as well, so having them on at both times is important.

The bands that have evolved and know they need to "safely" dress the back of their stage might provide an opportunity for you to hide a fourth, small camera for that shot that looks out over the band and audience at the same time. By safely I mean if someone is going to put a black background, it needs to be flame proof and not near any hot lights even if it is flame proof.

Ideally, 3 cameras and a forth hidden camera might give you what you need.

Then if you go to all of this trouble, you need to get some kind of general release from the audience that they agree to be videotaped simply by attending the event. Putting up at least two signs that inform anyone attending that they will be part of a show and are automatically agreeing is one way to get a mass release.

However, if customers start complaining and leaving, and let management know why they are leaving, be prepared to make up for lost business by ordering some food for your crew and what not.
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#7 Phil Connolly

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:48 PM

Guess my post was a bit vague:

But I would go:

CAM: 1 - FOH - offering big wide/MS lead Singer/ Poss extra shots of other instrument
CAM: 2 - On Stage shooting towards band or front row of audience - concentrating on the other instruments not singer as they are covered on CAM:1
CAM:3 On stage - OS drums shooting out - with the option of moving round and grabing another angle in profile on singer/guitarist

Alessandro is right - 3 cameras is quiet tight, one or two extra locked off cameras might give you more options. Try borrow a couple of miniDV cams - if they don't match in quality make them black and white and use the quality shift a feature in the edit.

I the past I've found that I don't end up using the big wide shot that much - just at the beginning/end of shots as a geography shot. MS and CU are much more dynamic and a OS reverse wide from behind the drums can be more interesting then the front on one.

Last time I filmed a band I used 4 cameras and it was a challenge to get lots of variety - I had scripted the shots so most operators had about 5 different positions for each song. But this was vision mixed and I was directing over talkback, so I could move cameras while I was taking the other cameras shot. If you can cue the operators you can get a greater variety of shots without risking a situation where 3 cameras are offering the same shot and you miss something good because its not covered.

The more you can plan the better - rehearse the shots - if you can't do it with the band do it with stand in's - so you can check the shot sizes the operators are offering and it all works together
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 05:07 PM

I've only done these kind of shoots a few times, my experience is in the very low budget end. Usually there just is not enough space and the paying audience gets first dibbs on locations. If there is some kind of support beam that goes from the ceiling to the floor, that can be a place to stick a camera and tripod or too, otherwise, you may end up way at the back of the room, in which case you'll need to elevate your shot.

Don't forget to bring a couple of roll out floor matts to cover cables, and the less cables, the better, none is best. The way your handheld camera operator dresses should be considered as well. If they end up walking among the crowd, it's probably best if they blend in with the audience, or at least are dressed all in black.
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#9 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 12:00 AM

Thanks so much for the suggestions, after watching a lot of concert footage and checking out the venue I think I have my setup that I'm going to go with. The idea of shooting cut-aways during soundcheck is great -thanks Phil! I'll tell the band to get their show outfits on for sound check.

The shoot is tomorrow afternoon. I decided to go with:

a ) lead singer, zooming in/out between CU and medium shot - tripod mounted so camera can zoom in for shallow depth of field
b ) wide coverage either off to side of stage or FOH whichever looks best - hand-held and/or tripod
c ) steadicam on stage moving and going for interesting angles

I'm not doing the editing so I don't know for sure how the label will use the footage but I'll post back when they have something online.

Again thank you!

Edited by Jason Hinkle, 30 October 2009 - 12:01 AM.

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#10 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 01:02 AM

Good luck on the rehearsasl footage. I have been saved by rehearsal footage a couple of times, and I've also learned to view it as a bonus rather than rely on it. A lot of variables come into play.

The performers have to all be on, working off of each other, and in a similar cadence to the actual show. It is possible that there will be a lot of interruptions during the rehearsal as the sound and lights are tweaked. You can literally have a situation where you want to keep filming but they performers are interrupted by the sound and lighting check.

It can become a touchy situation if you are expecting a serious rehearsal whereas the band is looking at it as a chance to fine tune everything that needs to be fine tuned.
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#11 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 01:21 AM

Thanks again everybody, I threw together one song really quick before sending off all the footage to the label. This isn't really a finished product but I figured I'd post something just for fun and to say thanks again for the advice. This is just a real-time edit using FCP multi-cam mode so it's got some rough spots, but you get the idea:

(pass = twilight)

I got tons of sound-check footage but the lighting was still being set up so it probably won't mix with the show, but it will definitely work great as cut-aways, I think the label will be pleased that I got so much b-roll for them.

After the show I learned a couple of things for next time:

- All cameras should be moving almost all the time, even just subtle movement. the static shot looks cheap in comparison
- steadicam merlin is hard as hell to operate without any previous training!
- bright red lights make things look fuzzy, next time i'll see if i can have less red on the musicians faces

Aside from that it was pretty fun. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Aerial Filmworks

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