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I wish more people could understand this concept

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zrb123I wish more people could understand this concept
by on Jan 8, 2007 at 6:46:54 pm

I wish that more people could understand what is said in this video.

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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WIRe: I wish more people could understand this concept
by on Jan 9, 2007 at 1:45:46 am

Ahem, brother :)

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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WIRe: I wish more people could understand this concept
by on Jan 9, 2007 at 1:46:47 am

I totally agree with you.

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George SockaRe: I wish more people could understand this concept
by on Jan 9, 2007 at 11:35:47 pm

I will decide if I want to register with DJ to resond there but..

I just shot my own kid's recital. Great production if I dont say so myself. But if I were to create a video about 20 kids for 20 parents, then it would have to be a diffent thing. "I" want to see closeups of "my" kid at all times, cutaways that relate to him, etc. But if I am shooting for 20 parents, will they want to see the closeups of all 20 kids one after the other - and miss what their kid is doing at that time? Will tehy want to see each of teh other 19 kids get ready? And if 20 kids are on stage at the same time how do you in fact capture CU what all 20 are doing specifically, unless you had 20 cameras? And would you then need to create 20 individual copies, customized for each parent? For $25? Not likely.

BTW, there was a guy at the back of the room - but only with something like a VX2000. I am sure that some people baught his DVD. Not for me though.

So the message is not all wrong - but there is value in what that videographer did. And easy money yes.

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Art Z AngelRe: I wish more people could understand this concept
by on Jan 11, 2007 at 3:53:38 am

This clip is certainly making the rounds at the various forums! And while I do agree with it in principle, I am torn about the recital. In the past we have taped dance recitals. We typically used two to three cameras and multiple microphones (including boundaries on the stage) as well as a recorder at the mixer. It took us a few weeks to edit, create title and closing sequences as well as credits. The first year we did this we received a lot of complaints that there were too many cut-aways to different cameras (at most 3-cuts/song, usually two: camera A-camera B one cut; but parents were use to one camera and didn't like the cuts) and that it took to long to receive. The next year we did it, we took away one camera, simple title, simple credits. Done and out in less than three weeks. Still not fast enough. No complaints on camera cut aways, no praise either. After expenses, I would have much rather taped a wedding on that weekend than do a recital. A wedding allows for far more creativity and the bride loves you. Parents can't be pleased. We don't do recitals anymore. My understanding is that they (dance school) have a guy taping the recitals using one-camera at the back. So what I am saying is that it may have been a little early to "blame" the videographer.


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Mark SuszkoRe: I wish more people could understand this concept
by on Jan 11, 2007 at 8:44:08 pm

I'm going to repeat a bit of what I commented on at the juice site about this. First of all, the major theme of the piece is dead-on.

Now, About dance recitals.

They are a special case when it comes to the shoot. Most people's first instinct is to shoot this kind of frenetic and MTV-like with lots of cut-aways and changes of angle, tromboning zooms and dutch tilts etc. as they are used to seeing in commerical television and music videos, etc.

The dance teachers and dancers really don't like this at ALL, and here's why:

What they are doing on stage is all about moving their bodies thru a space, defining that space with relative position, timing, and movement. If you go swish-panning and tracking them in tight to medium shots and various groupings all across the stage, you take away the "frame" within which they compose and display their art.

This is somewhat similar to the concept in architectural design involving "negative space". You see a building with a very large section devoted to an atrium, and the rubes and pencil-pushers say "look at the 'wasted' space". They don't "get" that the empty space DEFINES and balances the solid space; it's a partnership, a balance. You see this also in well-designed graphics: a balance of empty or "white" space and the actual text subject. Bad graphics usually mangle or eat up all the white space on screen and lack any aesthetic balance or harmony.

One more example; a stage play with multiple characters in a scene. This was designed to be seen live by human eyes, and so every action and reaction and position or change of position of the actors, the props, the lights in the scene has been deliberately planned out with a purpose: to drive your attention on cue from here to there, to THERE, with the option of you keeping your focus where YOU think it's important, according to the writer, director, and casts's hard work. But you're perceiving the whole of the performance, not just a narow slice of one aspect of it.

When you start shooting closeups of just one or two stage characters, excluding the actions and reactions of the others in the scene, you are fundamentally tampering with the overall balance of the performance and it's meanings. You've consciously taken over narrative control, in a setting where that was the whole point.

Our business evolved from 1890's era shooting of a wide locked-down master shot of a stage play in audience POV, to one where the camera and editing are powerful players in controlling and shaping the narrative in their own right, and this is when film (and TV) became their own distinct medium of expression. Trying to shoot a medium in the wrong "mode" makes for boring, unsuccessful viewing. Shooting dance recitals like a 30-second commercial is WRONG for this reason.

Back to our dance recital:

If you spend time on face closeups of the dancers, the all-important footwork they've spent weeks or months mastering is lost to view. So, in one sense, that guy in the story that locked down a wide shot wasn't completely "wrong". He was maybe lazy or careless in his execution, because you can still cut to multiple cameras and do "fun" video things in this context, with care, yet remain true to the concept of preserving the "frame". A great example is when just two dancers are working opposite ends of the stage. One wide shot to hold them both is too far back to show any meaningful detail, so in such a a case, a side-angle rack focus shot or a front-based soft-edged split screen or half-lap dissolve that puts one in the distance and one in relative close-up as they both do the same move, bridges this gap without going too far with altering the spatial relationships.

It's a fine line to walk, but that's the creative challenge to let the dance communicate on it's terms and if not to enhance, at least not to degrade that communicaiton, which is thousands of years older than our young medium.

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dpdenverRe: I wish more people could understand this concept
by on Jan 13, 2007 at 7:31:17 pm 2 cents - having filmed grade school plays that have sold well and been well received. My comments relate to product that sells for $20/$25. Anything cheaper than that might justify a stationary camera. I generally use a 1 person crew - me.

With all that in mind, I feel that any school that hires a videographer who shoots only a wide overview from the back with only one camera should look for a new videographer. They should find one who uses at least 2 cameras - even if one is stationary. They should look for one who will take the time to come to a rehersal - preferably the dress rehersal.

I agree you don't want the face when you should be getting the feet. And that parents want to see their kid - not always the person who is performing the most. And that quick pans and fancy camera work is not generally appropriate.

Dress rehersals may add a few more hours to the time - but time well spent. You get a feel for the event, you identify areas where close ups or isolation works, and you learn where best to put your cameras and mics. And you learn what the lighting will be like. And you can get your cutaways - hands on pianos or instruments or props, shots of teachers, fake audience etc.

At the play the stationary gives you overviews and cutaways, and the manned camera gives you the closeups or isolation shots that add quality and interest. I found you don't need the entire 2 or 3 minutes of an individual's performance - that beginning and ending 20 seconds or so works or don't be really tight on the actor- back off a bit so you have a better shot than the overview - but tighter. I have also found you can wander a bit for other mid or cu's of other kids. Obviously it's good to keep pans smooth (use a good tripod).

I generally use quick zooms to get to the edit shot, then fix zoom issues in post. I also try to get cu's of all the kids - even if in a slow pan. Sometimes in post I split the screen so the closeups and the overview are shown. And if possible (seems more for grade schools), right after or just before the play I have the kids line up (takes teacher coorperation) and parade before the camera and smile, say their name, or have a name tag (made up by the teacher's parent helpers). It makes for a quick edit in the end, but you can have credits with a close up of every kid - and you can get as fancy or simple as you want. Kids love seeing themselves close up. There is always + and -'s, Darn.


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