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Tips for shooting a live band?

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Olly Lawer
Tips for shooting a live band?
on Aug 25, 2011 at 5:45:40 pm


I'm filming a live band (for the first time) on Sat, 3:30 - 5pm so light shouldn't be a prob. 

Will be using an Ex1 with a backup Ex1 camera filming from afar on a roof. 

The end result is to be 5 minutes of various songs, crowd, band etc. Prob max 20 secs per song.

I plan to film the band members for about a minute and a half of each song, then run the Ex1 up the path and film the crowd from the front, using the 2nd camera on the roof to cut to (with random crowd shots) in-between shots of the band - all to disguise the jerky movements between band members (if there are any).

Sound is being recorded by another company and dubbed over after. Going to leave the camera running the whole time so only have to sync once.

Does that sound ok?

Also, it's going to be a dull day, so will set the White bal at around 6k. Is there anything post edit I can do (in color or AE) to spouse it up?


Olly Lawer

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Mark Suszko
Re: Tips for shooting a live band?
on Aug 26, 2011 at 2:15:07 pm

From an editors' perspective:

If the band does a dress rehearsal or sound check, use that time to get right up on stage next to them and shoot isolated single shots from angles inaccessible during the live show. Concentrate on getting tight instrument shots and face shots, faces looking at and reacting to each other on chorus parts, XCU's of fingers on frets, mouths next to mics, profile close-ups framed and back-lit by out-of-focus colored stage lights with bokeh... and give the drummer some love with some special angles, like from low down by his pedal foot looking up at him, looking up thru transparent drum heads, thru the clanging hi-hat, etc. After the edit, it will look as if you had five cameras, not one and a half:-)

Shoot the crowd cutaways early, or just during one less popular song; don't interrupt the actual performance of the whole concert for them. Nobody will know if you use a crowd shot from a different time as transition cover. It is more important to get as much of the band as possible at that point.

Know the songs and anticipate the camera needs. Have the close camera framed up for the scorching guitar solo BEFORE it happens, for example. Know who solos next, and anticipate.

You have at least four audio tracks between the two cameras. Try to feed a different source into each channel, as insurance. I know you say someone else is recording the audio: DO NOT TRUST THAT IT WILL BE GOOD. Get a mixer board feed into one of your cameras, and an ambient mic near the speakers for another, as a minimum. Run two channels in manual and two in auto level control. Run one audio channel a little hot, and one channel a little low, this way you'll have one track that is good, without excessive noise from normalizing, on the quieter parts, and one that won't be distorted on the loudest ones. Especially for music video, an audience will forget a bad shot but never forgive crappy sound, not for a minute. Take the time to get this RIGHT. Have multiple back-ups.

I would not re-balance cameras once daylight WB is set, assuming this is outdoors. Fading daylight is visually flattering. Also, if they use colored stage lights, rebalancing will take much of their impact away. Adding color with the lights is the whole point. But you could add or remove ND filtration as needed when the sun goes down. You can adjust the grading in post. Run manual iris wherever possible, and use your zebra bar display in the viewfinder to ride the brightness levels.

With only one moving camera, the most common problem will be resisting the urge to be constantly "tromboning" the camera with zooms in and out, and doing unconsidered pans that end up taking the shot somewhere with no clean way to get out of it. The constantly moving camera will seem jarring and unprofessional when you cut back to the fixed wide shot. You need to intersperse moving camea shots with motion imparted by kinetic cuts. Consider turning off the motorized zoom, and using super-quick flicks of the manual zoom to instantly "pop" from tight to medium and etc in less than a second. The fewer bad in-between frames you need to cover with b-roll, the easier the job is. So besides some "online" type zoom shots, intersperse instant "flick" zooms that you will later cut around. This also has the effect of suggesting you have more cameras available than you really do.

Really think thru the pans and zooms, give sufficient time before and after a zoom, and vary the moves to make them less repetitive. Really think thru the pans and zooms, give sufficient time before and after a zoom, and vary the moves to make them less repetitive. Really think thru the pans and zooms, give sufficient time before and after a zoom, and vary the moves to make them less repetitive.

Have a good show!

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grinner hester
Re: Tips for shooting a live band?
on Aug 29, 2011 at 9:49:07 pm

What balance to house lights if you do it at all as lighting will change during the song. Shoot the whole song, not just what you think you want. You'll need cutaways. Dpending on the song and vibe, swish pans may be totally fine. Color grade each shot to your liking... for this reason, I usually run preset when shooting live music.

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