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Thread: Help with filming a theatre show, please

  1. #1

    Default Help with filming a theatre show, please

    Hello. Have just recieved my Canon XH A1 in the post, very excited. Am filming an amateur theatre show towards the end of April and need some experienced advice on what is the best setup for this.

    My initial thoughts were on two of the nights get the best recording possible from an elevated position straight on to the stage. Am taking the sound directly from the mixing desk (sound guy) hopefully straight into my XH A1 via XLR. For the other 4 nights I was planning to film from the sides to get some close ups and action shots of feet dancing, peoples expressions etc. to edit into the full version with a little bit of clever seamless transitions hopefully to make it feel like 1 performance and break up the single straight on camera angle.

    I don't know much about filming in theatres if anyone could advise or even give me some better options. Bearing in mind I only have 1 camera to play with :p. If there is a preset that anyone can recommend to download for this then even better. Hope anyone can help.

    Of course any help with fps settings, shutter speeds setting etc would be deeply appreciated that would be best for theatre.

    Many thanks
    Last edited by squantrill; 03-17-2009 at 01:31 PM.

  2. #2

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    Hi - I've filmed many a dozen shows and still learning, though it does get easier.
    1st - it's far easier if you film with 2 cams. One getting a wide shot and one on close ups.
    Sound - OK to take a mix from the desk though these more often than not go tits up. One radio mic down and zilch!
    Take live sound from a cam for safety or to mix into the desk sound.

    White balance both cams and use auto iris. Most other scenarios it's a big no no to use auto, but you won't be quick enough to keep up with stage lighting. I only use manual iris on dark/smoky scenes to maintain atmosphere.

    Manual focus both cams before the show and use the backlight feature too. It saves the faces from burn out.

    Best of luck!
    My opinions are just that . . . Mine. It's not personal, but is based on my emotional and professional reaction to requested critique. If you choose to ignore constructive comments, I'll just assume you're a vanity poster and not posting to improve your filming and editing skills.

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  3. #3
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    ... all good advice - I would further add go to the rehersal and make a note of key moments, and to capture audience reaction, rig a decent mic in the auditorium.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Lockwood View Post
    ... all good advice - I would further add go to the rehersal and make a note of key moments, and to capture audience reaction, rig a decent mic in the auditorium.
    Excellent advice. Its always better to be safe than sorry so a little bit of prep can make all the difference.
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  5. #5

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    I'm regularly asked by principals "will you be at rehearsal" - I always say "No sorry"

    "Why not?" Me = "Memory like a sieve and if you think I'm gonna take notes and refer to them during the show - Ha! "

    Good luck to those that can remember more than the last few minutes. I can't, (but I would attend if I thought I could though)

    Can remember every second of some periods 20 years ago - Misspent youth
    My opinions are just that . . . Mine. It's not personal, but is based on my emotional and professional reaction to requested critique. If you choose to ignore constructive comments, I'll just assume you're a vanity poster and not posting to improve your filming and editing skills.

    Ex A.P.V Videomaker of the year - Ex M.M. IOV Come join my EXclusive club

  6. #6

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    Thanks. All really good advice. I was curious on how to cope with the iris as the lighting changes so much. And yeah make the Auto Iris do the work! Unfortunatly I only have access to one camera at such short notice. I think I will have to film from the back over two nights. If there is and if there is any microphone cutouts I can always cut to a different night of the same scene. Chances of two problems in the same scene hopefully greatly reduced.

    I will definitly add an ambient microphone to my second channel input, damn good idea to catch the audience laughter and reactions. Bigger job than I thought for one person :p

    Thanks again everyone.

  7. #7

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    Both shots from the back make sure you can borrow a really good tripod & head then, cause your close ups will look like you're filming from a bucking bronco during an earthquake if you don't. and . . . anticipate like crazy!
    My opinions are just that . . . Mine. It's not personal, but is based on my emotional and professional reaction to requested critique. If you choose to ignore constructive comments, I'll just assume you're a vanity poster and not posting to improve your filming and editing skills.

    Ex A.P.V Videomaker of the year - Ex M.M. IOV Come join my EXclusive club

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero View Post
    Both shots from the back make sure you can borrow a really good tripod & head then, cause your close ups will look like you're filming from a bucking bronco during an earthquake if you don't. and . . . anticipate like crazy!
    Got to agree with Zero's assesment. Why limit yourself like that? One long shot - fine, but you really need to get in close to the action too. On the second night, I would get down the front (or in the wings if you're interrupting sight lines) to get good quality close ups. The only potential problem is the feed from the desk if it's front of house and you don't have a long lead. So, capture your tape immediatley after the first run, check the audio and you'll know what your next plan of action should be. Take headphones too to monitor your audio all the way through.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero View Post
    Both shots from the back make sure you can borrow a really good tripod & head then, cause your close ups will look like you're filming from a bucking bronco during an earthquake if you don't. and . . . anticipate like crazy!
    I totally agree. I have just forked out for a Vinden Pro 6 tripod which should work nicely with the Canon XH-A1 on the long shots. Thankfully the theatre is more wide than it is long. I might see if I get setup halfway down if possible then to help stability. The show is over six performances now so was planning to setup close right and left side for a couple of the nights also to get some nice action shots of feet dancing and closeups of faces on the others. Problem with this would be, as mentioned, getting an XLR all the way to the camera at the front. Might be able to edit it so that it captures expressions of people being spoken to. I might be able to setup just off set backstage for a couple of 'out to audience' shots of the actors. Depending on if they have the space at the entrance points. Probably not though. (not sure if this breaks the illusion a bit anyway). On the canon there are two inputs. I think I will be able to plug in from the desk and setup a quality ambient mic for the rest into the second channel. I still haven't figured out on the Canon yet if that will allow me to seperately mix the channels afterwards....I would have thought so?! I was only going to record on two of the nights from the same rear location so that if there are any problems I have a better chance of correcting it on the second night for the main shots only. Can hopefully move between edit between the two so long as the in between scene music and dialogue doesn't effect it too much. Phew! so much to think about :p

    Thank you for help on this everyone. This is quite new for me and deeply appreciate the advice so far. A little luck involved always helps!

  10. #10
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    Don't expect the edit to be an easy process either... the two songs, they'll probably be to tracks so no problem there, there should sync up nicely - but the rest of it - oh dear - you'll be shunting stuff all over the place to keep it all together.

    Quote Originally Posted by squantrill View Post
    ... I still haven't figured out on the Canon yet if that will allow me to seperately mix the channels afterwards....!
    Most decent editors will allow you to select L, L/R or Just R as you want. In Vegas, I right click the audio and select which channel to use. I import the track twice, select left for one and right for the other.

    Best of luck!
    Last edited by Andy Lockwood; 03-19-2009 at 11:24 AM.

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