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Jay Curlee
one camera concert shooting
on Dec 8, 2009 at 7:11:34 am

For 15 years I have been a writer/producer/director who has tried to operate a camera. 35 years ago I was a writer/producer/director with union cameramen.

When the Z1-U came out I made a music doc/concert feature on my own nickel, after enlisting the support of several cameramen I had worked with. Rocking the Boat: A Musical Conversation and Journey was the result.

When the EX-1 came out, one of these cameramen showed me his. It was clear that this was another game changing camera.

I have become the "cameraman" and archivist for Delbert McClinton's Sandy Beaches Cruise. I shot last year's cruise with the Ex-1 mostly on full auto mode. I bought and used a Samson Z4 to take a stereo mix off of the front of house board. I have since bought and viewed Doug Jensen's and Vortex Media's "Mastering the EX-1." Last year my footage was good enough to make cruisers happy. My exposure and picture will be much better this year thanks to Doug Jensen.

Do any of you have a suggestion as to how the camera mic (ambient) sound can be set to deal with the very loud conditions of a rock concert? I like mixing the camera mic with the board mix. I have a shotgun I can mount.

Also, i would love to hear your ideas about picture profiles, white balance, and iris for both a backlit day situation and the nighttime stage such as seen in my examples.

Here are my examples from typical conditions on the boat:

Nighttime:
http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=512542...


Daytime:
http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=512626...

Thanks,

Jay


Jay Curlee

JC Communications
Makers of Rocking the Boat: A Musical Conversation and Journey
http://www.rockingtheboatmovie.com


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Michael Slowe
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:25:08 am

My one sincere word of advice - use a TRIPOD or at least some sort of brace for the camera. Your pics aren't too bad but way too unsteady.

As to picture profiles, I followed Doug Jensen on this quite successfully. White balance for exterior can be set at 5600 K at almost any time of the day but for interiors I feel safer by doing a manual set.

For audio, obviously the line from the board would be good and an on board mic for ambient FX sounds OK. You could mount a radio mic either in the band somewhere or on the vocalist himself if he'll wear it. It all depends on conditions, movement other sounds. Experiment and have plenty of different mic options in your kit bag. You could get someone to hold a mic for you but you'll want to keep them out of frame.

Michael Slowe


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Jay Curlee
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 8, 2009 at 4:20:38 pm

Sorry for the particularly shaky examples. For this stuff, I have taken the approach that I was shooting b-roll because there is no good spot to set up a tripod at this venue and still capture the musician perspective. These clips I shared are really just for the enjoyment of cruisers and musicians (and give an example of the lighting conditions). If I "do" anything with the footage it will be to use select short clips as b-roll for interviews. These camera "positions" are literally on the front left and right corners of the relatively small stage. I am shooting with a monopod being used as a poor man's glidecam and/or human crane. Sometimes I am actually hanging from the canopy supports with one hand. This year I am going to lock off an HDR-11 on a wide shot with a Magic Arm clamped to the canopy support, and run around with the EX-1. That way I'll spare the viewer the shakiest stuff.

I obviously do have a decent front of house feed to the Samson H4, but I wanted to have some ambient sound to mix in. The on board mic does not seem to have attenuation that can stand up to the volume generated on stage. It distorts no matter how low the input is set. I think that I may try a fixed mounted shotgun on the stage and wireless that back to the camera. Whatever I do must be fairly simple because I am a one man band and I shoot parts of 30+ shows in 7 days. I do this as a labor of love. When we shot on the cruise for my music doc, we had 5 cameras, 24 tracks, and a sound man. We had 4 Z-1Us and an HDCAM 900. Here is an example: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=636911...

Thanks,

Jay



Jay Curlee

JC Communications
Makers of Rocking the Boat: A Musical Conversation and Journey
http://www.rockingtheboatmovie.com


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Michael Slowe
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 8, 2009 at 8:32:09 pm

Jay, that's much more like it - terrific editing and the band's not bad either!

You mentioned earlier that you set the cameras on auto, these exposures weren't auto, they were fine and with that bright background auto couldn't have managed. We do see three shots of the other cameras, just when I was wondering how yo managed to avoid them being in shot!

Michael Slowe


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Jay Curlee
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 8, 2009 at 10:57:36 pm

To be clear, I only used auto iris and focus on my first time out with the EX-1 camera, which was last January. The movie was shot back in 2006 with 4, Z-1s and a 900 which were set up by my DP. It still took a lot of color correction to get it ready for film festivals.

I never worried about hiding or avoiding cameramen on the movie shoot. This particular song missed cameramen probably because my editor liked the shots you see better.

I will still probably go with auto focus on the cruise again this year, unless working with less gain makes that impossible. Unfortunately, last year I only had an 8gb and 16gb card. I had to run back to my room and import them into a final cut project (rewrap them in QT), format the card and start shooting again. I didnt' know about Clip Browser yet (or the BPAV file structure). This means I can't even see what I was doing with the camera because all that info is gone. My camera's firmware would not except SDHC cards at that time. Now I have 12, 16G cards.

I also now have a year with the camera under my belt. I will probably try to manually iris when I can but this music cruise is a real run and gun environment and it is like shooting in a (albeit friendly) riot.

I still wonder what our community does about ambient sound when they are shooting in extremely loud environments.

Best,

JC


Jay Curlee

JC Communications
Makers of Rocking the Boat: A Musical Conversation and Journey
http://www.rockingtheboatmovie.com


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Bob Tompkins
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 9, 2009 at 3:30:35 pm

I am not sure why you would want to taint your pristine, board-fed audio with distorted ambient sound. I have never had success recording camera audio at a rock concert, especially when you are that that close to the PA. I think the audio on all of your videos is excellent. If you are looking for ways to spend money I would invest in an inexpensive camera support system. It would improve your hand-held picture quality and probably save your back and shoulder for a few more years of what appears to be great work.



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Craig Seeman
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 9, 2009 at 3:55:32 pm

I have not shot any concerts with the EX1 but I used to do many 3 camera concert shoots with PD-150/170.

Board feeds tend to be "dry." They are also mixed for the club/concert hall (that's would their sound tech would/should do). That mix might be entirely wrong for a dry recording since the mix was done to take the club acoustics into account.

Adding in the camera sound (if PROPERLY recorded) can add back the proper club mi and audience response. Key though is camera placement relative to the speakers and audience. If the camera is behind audience members, they'll dominate and that's not good. A single camera, place off side, may get certain live instruments dominating over others and certain parts of the speaker mix dominating over others. With multiple cameras you have some interesting options. If you cut or emphasis the mix of one camera over the other as you cut to it, the viewer/listener gets as sense of the environment around a given musician for example.



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Jay Curlee
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 9, 2009 at 9:35:13 pm

You are right of course that there is no point to mix in distorted ambient audio. I did mix some ambience in my one camera examples. It is nice to have a little room sound mixed in. The front of house (PA) guys and monitor guys are outstanding on this music cruise, but as Craig points out, they mix it pretty dry. I might just put an ambient mic by the PA board. The crowd sounds will be a little hot but it will give a more natural feel.

Unfortunately the amount of running around I do, both in the crowd, and on or around stage, has meant that my monopod as glide cam/jib arm is the only practical way to go. A shoulder mount is too limiting in the tight spaces I work. Another factor is that the deck is pitching much of the time.

Having the locked off sony HDR-11 as a wide cover will be enormously helpful. That is one hell of a little camera.

I am very curious about how F1.8 and 3db gain or less will look (on the night stuff). I can't even tell what my camera settings were last year because that metadata is gone. It looks like I had at least 9b gain.

Vortex Media's DVD and Field Manual are money well spent. I know my video will be better this year.

Best, Jay



Jay Curlee

JC Communications
Makers of Rocking the Boat: A Musical Conversation and Journey
http://www.rockingtheboatmovie.com


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Thomas Kist
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 9, 2009 at 11:26:49 pm

Hi Jay,

If you are planning to use a fixed camera in the front of house position to shoot a wide, you might as well plug in a couple of simple stereo mics into that, just to cover everything acoustically.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/373764-REG/Behringer_C_2_C_2_Stereo_M...
for instance, are cheap and come with an XY mount.
Looking at the bands line up I think it will sound even better then a direct feed from the PA because that will have less drum an guitar amps.
Great seeing you with the Kinkster btw!


Thomas Kist
Freelance D.o.P
Amsterdam,The Netherlands
PDW-700,EX-3&Letus,FCP 6
http://www.thomaskist.com


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Jay Curlee
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 10, 2009 at 4:34:39 am

I think the PA feed is the best basic audio for this kind of shooting. I will find a way to fill it out with ambient mics. I think a combo of a stage mic and mic at the PA board would probably be the best strategy.

Kinky Friedman was very helpful to my project and has given me much pleasure with his books and music. He gave me two of my biggest laugh lines in my film. Rocking the Boat was a money loser, but the friends I made, made it all worth it. I got to make a feature, do film festivals, and learn lots of lessons.

My bucket list was well served.

Best,

Jay





Jay Curlee

JC Communications
Makers of Rocking the Boat: A Musical Conversation and Journey
http://www.rockingtheboatmovie.com


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Will Salley
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 10, 2009 at 6:46:23 am

Jay, I do a lot of this kind of production, although generally not quite as interesting as what you've done on the cruise. It's very difficult to do as a single crew person, but I have done a few. I would suggest a few pieces and techniques that might help.

Acquire a portable multitrack recorder (4-track) and connect two channels to the FOH board mix and then use a stereo mic (Shure VP-88 is great for live music) to feed the other two channels. You can record at the same rate as the camera (48k) and it should sync easily with video in post. This will allow you to use the camera audio for scratch tracks and more crowd applause and such. The built-in mics on the EX-3, and I assume the EX-1 aren't capable of that kind of SPL, so it's best to use a small condenser with a built-in pad. I usually place the "room" mic on a c-stand close to, or behind the mix position. I extend it as high as possible to minimize audience chatter. In your situation, you might be able to mount it to one of the scaffolding.

Nowadays I use a Sound Devices 744T and sync timecode with the cameras via a wireless link, but that may be beyond the budget and limitations imposed by being on the boat. Knowing those limitation, you did a great job. Let me know if you need help on the next cruise, I know most of the musicians already!







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Michael Pruitt-Bruun
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 12, 2009 at 6:07:03 pm

condensers if you can place them far enough away from the source, but sometimes even with a pad they can be overpowered in a small space. stereo would be great, if you have the time, equipment and knowledge or personnel to set it up and operate. it's not that difficult, but why go to the trouble if you're not going to do it right?

it seems to me you're just looking for a bit of ambiance to mix on top of your board feed. that doesn't have to be stereo.

also, if you have to be closer with the mike, maybe some kind of dynamic (md421 ?) that wouldn't get murdered by a high SPL.


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Jay Curlee
Re: one camera concert shooting
on Dec 15, 2009 at 6:29:33 pm

Thanks for all the good advice. I'll post some cool clips in late January.

Jay Curlee

JC Communications
Makers of Rocking the Boat: A Musical Conversation and Journey
http://www.rockingtheboatmovie.com


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