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Shooting a live concert

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Greg Ball
Shooting a live concert
on Feb 22, 2008 at 6:53:12 pm

I have a potential client looking to shoot a live concert with 3 cameras including one on a Jib. I've never shot a large concert before, I've shot many small events. They tell me they would send us audio out of their Mixer. The plan is to release a DVD of the concert

My questions are:

We normally shoot on Beta SP...would this be sufficient?
Would you shoot with ISO cameras only or would you live switch it, or both?
Would you provide any other crew besides 2 Cam operators and a Jib Operator? Would you have an audio engineer on the shoot?

What potential challenges should I look for? Thanks much.

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Mick Haensler
Re: Shooting a live concert
on Feb 26, 2008 at 4:27:42 pm

If they want to release this as a DVD then I definitely wouldn't go with a FOH board feed unless they are using a digital board with a matrix output. A matrix board will allow the engineer to give you a seperate mix than what the audience is hearing. It's still risky but will give you better results than a straight FOH mix. The other issue is you won't have room mics, without them the mix will sound flat and you won't get good audience response or room ambience. The cheapest solution is to record the stereo mix to 2 tracks of a multitrack recorder and feed 2 room mics to 2 seperate tracks of the recorder. At least that way you have some control in post. The only other alternative is to hire a sound company that does on location multitrack recording and leave everything up to them. It sounds like you wouldn't be comfortable doing the audio yourself and since this is a live event, you only have one shot. I would most definitely get a price from a mobile recording company. For a 24 track recording including mixdown and mastering, plan on paying anywhere from $1500 to $4000.

As far as video, Beta SP will suffice. I would switch it live as well as record straight to camera. Make sure you have a backup recorder too. We usually record to 2 recorders, as well as in camera tapes and a standalone DVD player taking a stereo feed. That way you can give the client a spec DVD right after the show, they love that!! You will also need a com system so the director can communicate with the camera ops. Sounds like this will be equipment you will have to rent. I use a company called Video Equipment Rental. They are worldwide and can get anything you need for a reasonable price within a day or two.

Make sure you test everything out at least a day in advance in case something doesn't work. And also make sure your recording audio to all the cameras to help with syncing issues in post. One more thing, be prepared to loose at least a year of your life due to the stress. I gig like this is not for the faint hearted. If something goes wrong the day of the shoot you need to think fast, always have backups for your backups. Apologize to your crew ahead of time for yelling at them because in the heat of the battle you will yell.

I've done quite a few of these for some pretty well known artists and believe me, while they are exciting, they are also one huge PITA!! Let me know if you need any more info.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media

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Gav Bott
Re: Shooting a live concert
on Mar 4, 2008 at 3:17:22 am

Having done a few of these myself I can only agree with all of the above - I'd also add in a few more cameras if you can afford them.

One per performer on stage and one for the venue always worked well as a starting point for me, then cut back to what the budget can stand. You only get once shot at capturing the image, so a certain ammount of redundancey has to be built in at the outset, more cameras allows you to work around tape changes and batt changes without loosing the performance.

Get a recording truck for audio and leave that side up to them, lots of pre-prod chats about the number of channels, set lists and external effects can then be pretty much forgotten by you - so long as they are good.

Get a couple of runners too - ones that don't mind wading through crowds with spare tapes / tripods / water bottles etc. at high speed.

The Brit in Brisbane
The Pomme in Production - Brisbane Australia.

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