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Fitness Video

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Greg BallFitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:25:11 am

I'm working on shooting a fitness workout video in a local gym. How would you handle music? Obviously everyone needs to workout at a certain pace/beat. But since the leader of the workout is also mikes and speaking on camera, we can't have the music playing in the background. Anyone ever do this before? Any advice?

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walter biscardiRe: Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:27:56 am

You have to use licensed music whether it's buyout or whatever you plan to use.

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Andrew KimeryRe: Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:43:41 am

When you say "everyone needs to workout out a certain pace/beat" do you mean the other people in the video or the audience? If you mean the other people in the video then I think they'll just have to rehearse enough that they are all in sync with each other.

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Steve KownackiRe: Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 12:47:34 pm

I suggest getting paid for your work and not "partnering" with an instructor that "has a killer local following and she should sell a DVD." As with most (not all) partnerships like this, you bear the brunt of the cost and they do the marketing and sales and.... you know the story.

I did one aerobic video years ago - got horrible reviews as I searched online years later! Not anything with production value (of course) but fitness is a killer market. Viewers hated the "old warehouse" look (not my call; poll your audience first) and the personality of the instructor. The participants must practice, Practice, PRACTICE! And know the routines inside and out. You and your client should spend a few days reading online reviews of the best videos out there - Sony spends upwards of $500K on a Buns of Steel video. That is your competition.

Use a wireless belt pack designed to be submersed in water; bring a backup too. Use a headworn mic with solid ear clip, also designed for wet/sweaty applications. Look at the best videos out there and use what they use. High SPL for when the instructors are yelling, maybe a different mic for the quieter, cool-down periods. They sound different at different levels. The beltpack will need to be moved many times based on the routines - side, back, brastrap, etc.

We played back music from a CD player at a quiet level in the room for the routines (so low you could barely hear it on the mic, hence the reason for the participants to know the routine) and then mixed it in later during post. Against my judgement they had one track on a cassette - this was a nightmare! Cassettes do not play at the same speed across players. Syncing later took forever. Now I'm dating myself when I did the video. Ha!

Shoot in an environment where you control all lighting - windows will kill you as the light shifts and color temp changes. Shoot at night if you have to.

I shot the segments out of order (see lighting changes above): Cool down first, then warm up stretches, gradually reaching the tough stuff last. This kept the sweat levels down and their energy decent for the 7-hour shoot day. If they have budget, shoot on a few days, lots of outfit changes, and the participants are truly committed to the gig.

We had a successful yoga video with a respected RN/Holistic teacher, same rules applied.

If I think of anything else I'll add. Have fun & good luck!


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Greg BallFollow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:10:22 pm

Perhaps you guys are mis-understanding.

Walter of course we'll use licensed music -I'm just trying to figure out if I should play it in the background while they go through the routines. I have someone speaking through the video and this could cause continuity issues.

Andrew -Have you done this before? How has it worked?

Steve-There's no "partnering" we've been hired to shoot this. We're using 2 cameras one on a jib. But I think I would need to shoot cut-aways too. I have three 35 minute exercise videos to shoot in a 10 hour day. So without killing anyone would be be best to shoot cutaways of each video afterwards?

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Mark SuszkoRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:20:17 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:21:35 pm

As to the cut-aways, I think you risk continuity problems by shooting them out of sequence.

As to the music, I had a thought: really all they need on the set is the beat, so, if you had a bass/drum track-only version of the music, or an audio looping unit, you could use it as a sort of metronome and synch it up with the fully-instrumentad, all-tracks version of the music in post. Any bleed over into the leader's mic would still synch up. If the bass on the floor speakers is low enough, you can keep much of it out of your video/audio track with EQ and low-cut audio filtering, but on the set, everyone would still hear it and stay on rhythm.

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Todd TerryRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:45:02 pm

You sure are getting lots of advice, Greg.... about music rights, mic'ing, business deals....totally unsolicited, I might add! Haha

Yes, I know you are only asking about the music and live playback.

Mark comes closest to the way that I would do it... his "metronome" idea.

Lately there have been an number of Broadway and touring stage productions that incorporate video playback (some with music) or synced screens. After seeing a couple of these it finally occurred to me how they get them right... yes, basically with a metronome. But not a conventional audio metronome, but rather a visual one.

The most complicated one is saw was a stage production of "9 to 5." This featured a big video screen in the shape of a clock face with moving hands. Occasionally Dolly Parton would appear in this face to say a line or two, and a couple of times even sang a line or two. I kept thinking "HOW in the world do they do this??" keeping Dolly's video synced with the live production. I finally noticed that the random ticking clock hands that were part of the video's background plate were actually ticking exactly in time with the music. They were a metronome, and the orchestra conductor had a little slave monitor that he could watch and keep everything in time. Still quite a feat, but doable.

They did something similar (maybe even more complicated since there were 23 screens, all different) in the stage production of Green Day's "American Idiot." There were visual cues in the screens that let the conductor keep everything synced up.

So... I'd take the music tracks that you want to use and produce them (on DVD, or other playback device) so that you have a visual on-screen metronome... could be anything... color changing blocking, alternate black and white squares, whatever. If these are on an out-of-camera-view big screen, then your instructor will be able to keep perfect time when you sync it all back up later.

Just one idea.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:06:05 pm

Todd, your method would require constant eye contact, which may not work for an exercise video.

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Todd TerryRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:42:18 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Todd, your method would require constant eye contact"

Multiple screens, and it's called "peripheral vision." :)

I'd personally use big solid-color changing screens (black to white, etc., as long as the actual glow from the screens didn't read as an illumination source).

Probably add some audio ticks or very soft bass hits to it as well.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Greg BallRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 18, 2014 at 9:19:37 pm

Thanks Everyone! Great advice. You guys rock!

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Ned MillerRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 12:52:22 pm
Last Edited By Ned Miller on Jun 19, 2014 at 1:01:11 pm

Hey Greg,

I used to do a lot of those in the 80s & 90s and as the other posters mentioned, the technique was to do a click track, what someone called a metronome, loud enough for the extras to hear but not picked up by the leader's headset mic. Also, the music should bury the click track. Someone would bring a small electronic keyboard that had a variable drum beat and hook speakers to both sides of the room.

But I want to give you a heads up: Unless your extras are fellow aerobics instructors they will get played out. Trust me. Regular people will tend to get a pained expression after awhile whereas you need either a neutral expression or perhaps a smile. I've DP'd jobs where the client was bringing in his regular gym clientele and that is not good enough for a video. Hollywood wouldn't do it that way. You need tough, athletic people not regular customers. So, I would need to rearrange the out of shape extras in a way that I would shoot them from behind so we couldn't see their faces. Screws up continuity. Yoga video jobs have the same issue: pained expressions. When you get into editing your client fixates on the faces that look like they are not having a good time. You want to then ask them, "So why did you invite him to be in the video?"

Everyone should bring a couple of identical shirts so you can swap out for when they get sweat puddles. Bring a couple of giant fans for creating a breeze between takes, you want people to stay on their marks. Oh, and bring lots of hair spray and scrunchies.

Good luck!

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer

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Stephen SmithRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 2:38:30 pm

If this is one of those videos where a couple of people in the background are doing the same work out as the leader then it isn't about the beat of music. The work out videos I have seen the main person counts and the others follow and do the same thing. You don't need music to follow the leader. But maybe you have something different.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page

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Mark SuszkoRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:55:40 pm

The exercise leader could have a wireless IFB earpiece with the guide music track in it, (even something as simple as a micro-sized ipod shuffle) then the mics won't pick up any music at all.

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Bob ColeRe: Follow-up Fitness Video
by on Jun 30, 2014 at 11:49:17 pm

[Ned Miller] "extras are fellow aerobics instructors"

Having made a series of yoga videos, I want to endorse Ned's observation. If you look at the best yoga videos, you will realize that the "students" in the videos are either celebrities or professional yoga teachers in their own right.

Bob C

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Richard HerdRe: Fitness Video
by on Jun 23, 2014 at 5:56:50 pm

What inputs are on your camera?

Mic into board track 1.
Music into board track 2.

Mic out of board aux 1 to camera input 1.
Music out of board aux 2 to camera input 2.

master mix to house.

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