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Live performance recording advice

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Vince DyerLive performance recording advice
by on Apr 10, 2012 at 8:04:32 pm

Hi guys,

I am starting up a live (namely music) performance recording business and am humbly seeking professional advice on a couple issues (there is a lot that needs to work together here, please bare with me). Right now I have a portable audio set up that runs 2 matched ribbon mics through pro tools LE 7. I am able to get high quality stereo audio with these things, and they do a fantastic job of accurately capturing the ambience of the venues I am in without distorting the EQ too much, so audio is fine.

I have yet to purchase a more professional video camera (something I am seeking advice on), and up until now have just been using a consumer-grade Canon camcorder, which is not producing the quality we're looking for. I have been told to look at Canon 3CCD camcorders, 5D Mark II and III, and other DSLR cameras, as well as the Sony NEX-VG20. I am trying to keep my camera costs under $3000 (including lense), and don't really need the super high megapixel images that the Mark III will produce, and plus would like to be able to record a whole show (over an hour) all at once, so I think I'm choosing between the 3CCDs and the VG20. Thoughts?

The first issue we ran into was syncing. I've been recommended PluralEyes and FCPx (10.4 i believe?), but apparently FCP7 is unable to properly synchronize the separate audio and video files. We had to do this manually instead, and spent hours deleting extra frames every couple minutes. This is not something that I can afford to continue doing, and must solve this problem soon!

The second issue we ran into was compression. The files we are currently working with are almost 200 MB, and they need to be under 100 MB if one hopes to avoid YouTube's awful compressor. I tried using the Quicktime compressor on my macbook, and somehow the file actually came out larger than when it went in! Talked to people at Apple about it and they basically told me they had no idea why that was happening, but that I should probably just buy FCPx and use that compressor... Again, this is another issue that must be resolved soon, as we cannot afford to spend hours on end manually adjusting compression settings for each and every video that we put out. Loading FCPx on a macbook that barely has the RAM to handle it and the compressor is not ideal, so I will likely need a new computer if I want to get serious about this.

I am looking to solve all of these issues under $4000. Right now I am looking at buying the VG20 (~$2000), an iMac with at least 4GB of RAM (>$1300), and FCPx ($300). Do you guys think this will work? Do Sony camcorders record in formats compatible with FCPx syncing software? Would you recommend a different camera? computer? software?

Your advice is greatly appreciated, thanks a bunch!

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Mike JeffsRe: Live performance recording advice
by on Apr 13, 2012 at 3:36:16 pm

Short answer will it work, theoretically yes.

long answer. Never buy gear for the sake of buying gear if your not sure what to get and use find a rental house, or a friend, or a friend of a friend and rent the stuff and test it out to see if it will work before sinking money into it. you may find work a better workflow. To you it seems like 4000 is a lot of money but I can tell you that is a pittance compared to high end work. if your worried about getting the right gear you need to invest in some R an D and find out nothing is worse then blowing your investment on useless grew that won't give you want you want.

hope that helps Learn from my failures :)

Mike Jeffs
Video Coordinator

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Vince DyerRe: Live performance recording advice
by on Apr 19, 2012 at 4:55:12 am

Thanks for the quick response,

I understand that $4000 is peanuts in the videography world, it is in the audio world as well (to a lesser extent of course). My thinking though is that, because my ultimate goal is to get these videos on youtube (max file size = 100MB), I'm going to have to compress away all the extra quality of the more expensive cameras anyways.. am I wrong or forgetting to take something into account? I think my main issue is finding a camera with a big enough sensor to handle the lower light conditions of a music venue, no?

I looked at renting, problem is I can buy a new camera for the price of renting the model up only 3 or 4 times... seems less cost-effective. Am I not looking in the right places?

Thanks again, really appreciate your professional feedback.

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