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Multi-camera shoot

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Rick WiseMulti-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 7:48:01 pm

The following is a copy of an email I just received, off forum (See my previous post, please.)

I need your help.

Your comments and suggestions on Cow always seem to be dead on. This is why I've turned to you with these questions.

First, I'm doing a 6 camera shoot in the US for a French company. They want PAL.

My first approach is to us HVX 2000's and HVX - 500's to do the shoot, all on P2 with monitors only for the director. (This is a budget thing and the French do not like to live mix.)

They at first requested DVcam/PAL.

I'm suggesting that the 2000's and 500's will do a superior job outputting a native PAL Format. Agree? What format would you use?

How can I sync the cameras? Would continuous run TC using a "Jam Box" or other sync Box be the answer?

Next, I'll need to sync a Multi Track audio recorder to all, either the Alesis HD 24 or The Sound Device 788 T. Any ideas here as well?

I hope I haven't overstepped my requested favor.

Please help when possible.

Thank you,

My reply:

you are the second person to contact me directly. That negates the value of the Cow Forum. Every post is a potential learning moment for everyone else. Also, others there may have better solutions that I do. I urge you to place this post on the Cow now. But I do thank you for your vote of confidence.

In the mean time, in response to your questions: some of these are above my real knowledge. For instance I never have done multi-camera shoots. I am keenly aware of the problems that poses for post, as well as some solutions.

Ideally, you want to jam all cameras to the identical time code, though also take care that output from each is properly identified (camera a, camera b, etc). In post the editor will want to line all the cameras up on timelines so that all cameras rolling at the same time are locked together.

I am not sure whether or not you can do that with the cameras you describe. If you cannot, a workaround is:

* have a clapper slate positioned so that every rolling camera can see it
* be sure the slate is correctly named; the clapper needs to sing out the name, take number etc. so that the editor can also sync up the sound in post
* make sure all cameras are focused on the slate before the clapper person claps it (can also be a smart slate)
* to reduce the need to repeat the above, once cameras start rolling they all go on rolling until the director calls "cut" which he should do as little as possible (it will take significant time to line up all the cameras for each clapper-start)

If I understand your DVcam/PAL question, the French are proposing to shoot SD. Of course the HDV output in PAL will be superior, but do they have the means to handle that in post?

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA

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john sharafRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:17:41 pm

Thank you Rick for making this off list email more public. You are correct that it will benefit anyone who participates in the forum.

To your unnamed correspondent:

I am very familiar and experienced in multicam shoots, having done hundreds of them in SD and HD for broadcast and other clients, mostly using my own kit.

First off there are two faulty assumptions in your plan. First is to switch the format from the clients request. Clients are the ones who determine the format, there is usually good reasons for their choices, having to do with their post infrastructure and/or delivery requirements. Second is your suggestion to use two different cameras. The unifying principal to successful multicam is to use the same cameras. This assures a more perfect camera match, both in look and connectivity.

Therefore, based on the request for PAL DVCAM, I'd recommend:

6 @ Sony PDW700's (with SD option) This will allow shooting in HD and playout in SD, or staying in SD the whole way. Also the XDCAM Professional disc media is inexpensive, at aboyt $20/85 minutes in DVCAM and is archival in nature, so there is no need to backup, process or otherwise add workflow other than file based ingest toi their NLE.

6 @ Tripods, Dollies, Jib, Steadycams or Handheld modes as required, and appropriate wide or long lenses and focus/zoom servos as needed.

6 @ Telecast Copperhead Cine Fiber Cable Systems with Power Plus and SMPTE Hybrid cable or Tac 2 cable (for Steadycam)

1 @ Evertz 7700 Frameset with 6 @ HDSDI DC-DA's, Trilevel Sync Generator and DA, 8x1 Audio DA's (2), TC Geneator and DA

1 @ Panasonic 400 Switcher (set up for six HDSDI inputs, for use as Multiviewer with two 23" eCinema, Cinetal or Sony Trimaster monitors

6 @ RMB150 or preferably RMB750 Remote CCU's

1 @ Monitor bridge including 6x1 HDSDI Router, Leader LV5700/5750 Waveform/Vectorscope, 14" BVMD14F5U Monitor and DSC Chroma du Monde Chart

1 @ Sound Devices 788T with 8 channel mix pot option

2 @ 17" Panasonic Monitors, for both the video controller and the audio mixer to view Multiviewer.

1 @ RTS intercomm system with stations for director, producer, audio, video and headsets for all cameras. A SSA-324 or equivalent and a 6x1 Five pin DA will be required to feed the six Telecasts. You might consider adding an intercomm specialist for this.

As far as staffing, you'll need a skilled EIC and Video Maintainance Technician to setup this rig the day before on a prep day at the rental vendor, then pack for travel and resetup on location.

Depending on the location of the shoot, this type of setup might need to be sourced in a larger market and traveled in.


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Bob HolbrookRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 9:08:43 pm


Can the 700's shoot pal?

This is a No switch, iso-shoot only.

The audio will need to be recorded with a min of 24 tracks. That's why the Alesis unit was mentioned.

The Panasonics shoot PAL as well as NTSC. This was why they were mentioned.

Please clarify a bit. Your guidance is welcomed and appreciated.

I'm trying to do this for as very little budget.


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john sharafRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 9:43:36 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, the PDW700 is a world camera, it shoots 1080/720/NTSC & PAL at 24/25/30/50 and 60. It's particularly appropriate for ISO recording, because the media lasts 45 minutes in HD or 85 minutes in DVCAM or twice as much with double sided discs at very low media cost (as I mentioned).

Problem for you is low budget part. While you haven't really explained what the application is (concert, meeting, ???) the requirements to cable everything together is what costs money. That what the Fiber Cable System is for. It carries SDI video, TC, genlock, audio (2 tracks), remote control, intercom and power in one cable that can easily be extended and is readily available vs. a custom made cable loom of conventional copper (digital video only can travel 100 yards on copper, that when the Fiber becomes mission critical) In addition, because of the complexity of setup, there's no way to avoid a prep/setup day, although the rental vendor will not charge you rental, you must pay your engineering staff to do it. Plan at least 12 hours to build, setup, test and wrap a system on this size, and you'll need the resources of a large rental vendor.

Where is your shoot, and what is it's nature? There might be other specific recommendations. From the 24 track requirement, I can only guess it's a concert. A tech scout is critical also, several days in advance of the build, to allow the rental vendor enough time to put everything together and make sure you have enough cable. You must determine where in the venue you'll build the control room and accurately measure cable runs to each camera. In addition, special platforms might be required to raise the cameras ton an appropriate high, not to mention negotiation of camera positions to minimize sight loss and sold seat loss.

Budget is always an issue, but there is a point below which a professional job cannot be done. The video production is often told that they are subservient to the needs of the promoter, venue and act, so you must fight for the access and resources to do an adequate job. Another route of course is to book an OB truck, and this is sometimes the most economical route, especially in regional areas where no rental vendor has such a kit as I've outlined. The OB trucks will have fiber or triax cable capable for the job and because they drive up prebuilt, you trade the setup day for a long setup.shoot.wrap day.

That's about all you'll get for free from me or any other person capable of setting something like this up. Now it's time to get a real bid for both a roll-in and OB truck scenario. My guess of hand is in the neighborhood of $35-40K for video gear and labor, plus the 24 track audio facility, specialty camera support and operators and grip and lighting. I know it's scary, but you could easily spend $25 on crap video and get nothing or a post production nightmare.


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Bob HolbrookRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 10:28:28 pm


Let me see what I can give you in the way of details.

It's a 5 day shoot, festival/music concert. The client is French. They want to capture certain music performances and some ENG interviews and the like on light days.

The Festival, is urging me to put this together and meet their budget.

My Equipment house is VER. But, due to the budget we were going to opt to use Pan. 2000 cameras due to the fact I own a couple.

The 24 track digital audio units we own as well. Alesis HD 24 xt.

The client does not want to switch, just monitor all on BNC if necessary and call the shots, Saving all editing for back home.

Also, to add difficulty to the job, we have to move to different stages almost every day.

Your help is appreciated.

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john sharafRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 11:05:40 pm


Five days is definitely to your advantage.

I'd build out control room in a box van to easily repo venue to venue, and use your 2000's for the interviews and 700's for the system cameras.

The XDCAM discs are a much more robust means to transport the media back to France and you'll still make plenty on the markup. I would think you could swing a two day deal (less 30% off book) from VER as they have slews of PDW700's.

There's also a top notch engineer named C.R. Caillouet, Jr. in your area. I'd seek him out for this job and you'd have it made in the shade.


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Bob HolbrookRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 11:27:08 pm


Thanks a million.


Cajun Bob

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Bob HolbrookRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 11:38:28 pm


I must ask why the 700's over the 2000's? Is it just the Media?

My idea is... Using the 700's or the 2000's I would sync all using a Jam box or like. I'd do the same with the HD 24 for audio.

Using the 2000's, video would be downloaded from the P2's and Multiple copies made on location.

Is it possible to copy the 700's media?

We have a "Toy Box" or travel trailer with large drop down door back end to allow for equipment storage.

If you have C.R. Caillouet, Jr's phone number I'd appreciate it. You can call me at 337-258-6622 or send it to

Thanks for all the help.


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john sharafRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 11:46:13 pm

Yeah Bob, I think the media makes more sense, and yes you can backup or clone the XDCAM discs easily. The real advantage is that that you can master in 1080 25p or 50i (for PAL) and play out with PDW-HD1500 deck in SD PAL. This camera and XDCAM media has taken over in Europe where thousands of cameras and decks have been delivered. Remember with the double sided (50Gb) discs you can record for 90 minutes without stopping. I'll try to find CR's phone number or email and email to you.



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Rick WiseRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 13, 2009 at 10:33:32 pm

Bob, John is spot on about the gear. This is something he knows tons more about than I do. I just looked up the cost of renting a single PDW700 out of Boston: $675/day ( It's all the support gear and people that really add up.

Get some bids!

Then, if your French friends throw up their hands in dispair, I suggest you keep the conversation going. Talk with them about some plan B which will not be so professional but could possibly meet their needs. (I lived in France for six years and know they love to cobble things together to do the "impossible.")

Since you are in Louisiana, I suspect you'll need to rent out of Texas or New York.

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA

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Mike SmithRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Apr 14, 2009 at 1:15:13 pm

If they ask for PAL / DVCAM they probably want PAL DVCAM. You'll just give them edit headaches if you offer another format.

There are lots of French outfits that do live mixing very well. That depends on your client and their market / project. Many live event specialists with a budget will want to shoot "iso feed" and take away all the camera footage to edit later, for quality rather than because of dislike of mixing. Some will want a mixed master and all the camera outputs recorded separately, to have a fast guide to what's there and the chance to improve it.

I don't know the HVX 2000 but so far as I can see for the HVX 200 this is a budget camera with I presume budget glass on the front. It seems silly to presume this will give better SD output than, say, DSR 450s or 570s with broadcast lenses ... Or do you mean HPX2000 ..? In which case you should get decent PAL output - as you can from the DSRs ..

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Daren AfsharRe: Multi-camera shoot
by on Jul 20, 2009 at 3:04:29 pm

Fabulous post everyone ! And most generous I might add. I posted a similar thread to learn a little more on the subject and found a great deal more here on this thread.

John, Rick, thanks a lot for helping out !

Daren Afshar
Winery Productions

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