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Thread: Advice please on filming live concerts

  1. #1
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    Default Advice please on filming live concerts

    Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    Over the past twelve months Iíve been running a one-man film company in Brighton, England called NP Video www.npvideo.co.uk At present I have a Panasonic NV-GS120EB, one of the first consumer camcorders to incorporate 3 CCDís and a Rode Stereo Videomic external microphone. While the resulting footage and sound are quite good, they fall short on the following:

    1) The Panasonicís auto gain control (AGC) cannot be changed to manual and there are no other means of reducing gain input. The Rode mic can handle sound pressure up to 130db, far higher than the Panasonicís AGC can cope with. This means that even moderately loud audio distorts occasionally, even with the micís 10db cut switched on.

    2) Lens size and closeness to the stage means I have to attach a wide angle lens if I want an overview shot which means I then have problems zooming and focusing. It isnít possible to move further back sometimes without the view been obscured or sound smothered by audience noise. Do larger camcorders with bigger lenses capture more of a scene or is lens size irrelevant?

    3) The Rode mic does not zoom and hasnít got a Ďshotguní pick up pattern. Sounds are captured uniformly from the front, sides and some rear noise, rather than focusing on primary sound from vocals and instruments. The mic also appears not to pick up the highest frequencies as well as other parts of the audio spectrum, making recorded audio sound slightly dulled. Outside recordings sound good though slightly strange as if theyíve been recorded inside a vast hall. Stereo separation is a bit muddy though each instrument is clear and distinct.

    4) Hot shoe versus cold shoe pros and cons e.g. the internal zoom function doesnít work on external microphones although apparently it does if the microphone / camcorder have compatible hot shoe fittings? Also, which camcorders / mics are compatible and if not can they be fitted with an adapter? I am completely confused by this subject.

    5) 3 CCDís capture excellent footage outside during daylight hours. Unfortunately they are smaller than the ones found in single CCD camcorders so footage can be under exposed in low light, which is the usual lighting for gigs. The scope for manual adjustment of light entering the iris seems a bit limited on the GS-120. Do I have to buy a camcorder with three large CCDís (probably costing megabucks) to get better exposed footage in low light?

    6) Spotlighting on the main vocalist / performer is often too bright resulting in over exposure particularly on their face. Is it best to try and combat this at the time with balance adjustments or is there an effect within an editing program like Pinnacle Studio which can adjust this portion of the scene without affecting colour and exposure of the other parts? Iíve tried both with varying degrees of success.

    I am planning to buy another camcorder and a stereo zoom mic to complement my existing setup. The new camcorder would be the main recording one with primary sound input while I film close-ups and cutaways with the old GS-120. Iíve read good reviews about the Panasonic PV Ė GS400 but then found web articles saying a fair few have noise issues relating to misaligned components. My budget is £400 - £700 for the camcorder and around £200 for the microphone. Iím going to New York in March and want to take advantage of the exchange rate but I am concerned about customs charges and knowing for sure that the camcorder I buy can record in PAL not just NTSC.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    PS The kit has to go on my back and on a bicycle (which is a racer so no panniers or baskets etc) so any recommendations on purpose designed rucksacks and tripod holders would be great. I know it sounds weird but the bicycle is honestly one of the best ways of getting round Brighton.

    Regards,

    Nigel Pollard

    npvideo@hotmail.co.uk

  2. #2
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    Hi Nigel.

    Phew - you've asked alot in that post!

    Without taking the time to answer each point individually, I'll just stick with this.

    Sound - I will not work without being able to take a feed from the sound desk. I do use the camera mics too, but lay them back to perhaps 10% of the overall soundtrack just to add the live abience. Talk to the Soundman and get a feed from him that you can record to a small digital recorder.

    Exposure - The better the optics (usually) the better the lowlight capability. Consumer cameras rarely handle stage lighting well, you need to spend more on a decent camera - in fact probably three or more decent cameras - and then adjust exposure for the main vocalist under their spotlight. Adjust the others for their parts of the stage accordingly.

    My advice is not to zoom. If you're using a wide adaptor, avoid zooms and stick with pans.

    What you're trying to achieve with the kit you've got is a big ask but can be done... experiment with settings till the cows come home.

    Good Luck!

  3. #3

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    You need a decent camera with manual controls and if possible XLR audio inputs.

    You need to control the iris as the show progresses as the spotlights will burn out the picture, you have to decide what setting depending on what is important on stage.

    Get an audio feed from the mixer if possible, and do a sound check and light check before the show so you know what the loudest sound is and the darkest and brightest parts of the production are.

    If could also buy the edirol /Zoom audio recorders and use them to capture the sound and lay back latter, but do bear in mind there canbe sync issues with tose devices.

    I suggest you write the questions one at a time as they look alot and people will gloss over them and move on.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Thanks guys and much respect for your replies so far - I know it's a lot of questions but I have to ask them as I want to make make a career out of this and will be making big buying decisions over the next month.

    Nigel Pollard

  5. #5
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    Default Sample Clips of Filming

    You can check out some of the bands I've filmed by typing npvideobrighton into the YouTube search engine.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel Pollard View Post
    Do I have to buy a camcorder with three large CCDís (probably costing megabucks) to get better exposed footage in low light?
    Yes.

    The higher end Panasonics with larger CCDs make a huge difference.
    We use 3 Panasonic AG-HPX500s in a indoor concert environment, the low light is not a problem, We also use 3 Canon XL-H1s that are not nearly as good in the low light environment. The Panasonics have 2/3" CCDs (3), the Canons have 1/3" CCDs (3), a huge difference.

    The Canon does have a manual gain control however but the images get rather grainy at the high setting.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel Pollard View Post
    Do I have to buy a camcorder with three large CCD’s (probably costing megabucks) to get better exposed footage in low light
    No. It's not the size of the chips per se which makes the difference but a combination of lens, light path and electronics. The newer the camcorder the better and, of course, cameras built for broadcast use will perform much better than prosumer or enthusiast camcorders. Camcorder such as the newer prosumer Sonys have excellent low-light capability. So a new prosumer with a small chip will give you much better performance than an older camcorder with larger chips.

    To answer a couple of other points. Rode microphones aren't the best, in fact they have a very poor reputation in television circles. Don't buy a "zoom" stereo mic, that's a bit of a marketting ploy. Have a look at the mics from Sennheiser and Audio Technica, the BP4029 from Audio technica is a particularly good general purpose mic for videographers..

    A larger camcorder with a larger lens won't necessarily mean a wider angle of view. In fact. probably the opposite. Larger camcorders tend to come with lenses which don't go that wide. You might want to look at a wide angle attachment to screw to the front of your camcorder.

  8. #8
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    Default Cheers Guys

    Thanx Guru & chuck engels for advice - much respect

  9. #9
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    3 CCDs ? Modern tomfoolery.

    I shot my last Danny LaRue concert on one of these and got hte sound on wax drum.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
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    Seriously - best thing you can do Nigel is to post some of your work in use r vids and get some feedback.

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