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Concert videography

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Chris WilliamsConcert videography
by on Mar 10, 2013 at 7:59:33 pm

I replied yesterday to a post from 2010, but realized that the way this forum software works it was unlikely to be read or replied to. Hopefully I won't be violating forum rules if I post a revised version as a new post.

I shoot concerts pretty much exclusively, with multiple cameras. These days, I'm shooting with five myself. Occasionally, I'll have additional operators, but for the most part I'm the entire crew, as that is the only way to hit the price point I service.

In a typical concert shoot, I'll have a fixed camera set up dead center to capture the whole stage. That is the go-to camera if everything else fails. Its my weakest camera, a Canon Vixia HF200, and also is set to record the sound from the mixing board.

I have two Canon Vixia HF-S100s on remote pan-tilt heads to get alternative angles. They capture camera audio to sync the cameras for a multi-camera edit.

I hand-operate two cameras, a Canon HF-S100 set medium width to capture an alternate view and my Canon XH-A1 main camera on my best tripod to get close-ups. I spend the whole show capturing the lead singer/lead guitar/whatever with the last. If you were to see this feed in isolation, it would look like I was swinging wildly from performer to performer, but the other four cameras provide at least 50% of the screen time.

I monitor four of the cameras via a quad-split device normally used for security video (I don't need to monitor the wide-angle shot). That is just used for framing, as all the cameras are recording to their SD cards. I'm constantly adjusting the two main cameras, and less frequently adjusting the two pan-tilt ones. Good pan-tilt systems are way out of my budget, so I never use them for moving shots.

I always get a board feed, supplemented by a pair of audience mics on a very high microphone stand. But I also always record audio on all of my cameras - mostly for syncing the video, but occasionally it has saved my bacon, especially if a chatterbox has stationed him or herself near my audience mics. The cameras I use all have manual audio level controls, and the sound can be surprisingly acceptable as long as you place the cameras carefully.

I shoot in HD on all of the cameras, bringing them into my editing program to synchronize them (manually - I've never gotten the PluralEyes demo to work.) I make an SD proxy of all the cameras to be able to edit them on my laptop, but finish the full show in HD and put HD samples on YouTube.

I don't want to reveal all my tricks, but I have produced a pretty impressive work-flow if I do say so myself. For instance, recently I shot two two-hour shows in Chicago on a Saturday, traveled on the red-eye, and shot another two two-hour shows on Sunday in Kansas City. And I delivered all four finished HD masters in a week. And all my equipment to do this fits into a backpack. Well, everything except my computer, which I use to record the XH-A1's Firewire output via Adobe OnLocation.

Note: There is someone else on this forum with the same name. I understand the reasons for a "real names" policy, but unique handles prevent confusion.

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Tom SeftonRe: Concert videography
by on Mar 21, 2013 at 12:47:56 am

Try woowave

We demoed it on our pc workstation this week and it worked well. Syncs multiple video and audio streams and then exports an XML file for premiere or fcp.

Cost less than £50.

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Chris WilliamsRe: Concert videography
by on Mar 21, 2013 at 12:59:18 am

Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check it out. Most of my shooting is concerts, and are at least 90 minutes in length. The Woowave page says of the current version:


Hopefully that means "two or more hours".

I have a shoot Friday, that I can test this on. Honestly, I've gotten so good at manually syncing that I don't know that it's worth spending $100 on a tool to do it. The only time it's an issue is when some "helpful" person insists on starting and stopping the camera between songs (I've threatened loss of thumbs if it happens again.)

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