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Thread: Advice for shooting a play

  1. #1

    Default Advice for shooting a play

    I was shooting a play last night and found the lighting was causing me some difficulty. Does any body have any experience or tips to over come this type of a shoot.

    I have to go back tonight to re shoot because I wasn't happy with what I did. The only idea I had was to put it on auto mode and let the camera cope with the changes in lighting.

  2. #2
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    I bet you found that the highlights were over-exposed.

    I've found that theatrical lighting tends to be very "hot" on the actors and not so bright on the scenery. As a result the auto-exposure tends to try and compensate and overexposes the talent.

    I would suggest one of three solutions

    1. If you can tell your autoexposure to continually underexpose by an amount (you'll have to experiment but one or one and a half stops would be a start) then that way you can leave the auto exposure on.

    2. If the camcorder has a "stage" or "spotlight" setting (Bit obvious that, didn't mean to insult your intelligence)

    3. Manual aperture. Stressy, requires superhuman concentration but, once you get the hang of it, gives the best results.

  3. #3

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    Spot on observation Gaffer, far to hot in places and dark dungeon in others ! Well may be not that bad)

    I think there might be a setting to try option one, I'll have to hunt through the menus to see. There is no Stage or Spot setting on my camera. (Panasonic HVX201)

    When I was shooting last night I was trying the Stressy option but found it very hard work and I'm not sure how I did as I haven't seen any of the footage but I do remember thinking that I wasn't happy enough to leave it as it was, thats why I'm going back tonight.

    I'm only doing this as a favour for a friend so it's not going to cost me a client or something like that. It's just a question of personal pride to do the best I can.

    Thanks for the quick reply.

    One last thing. Is there a laser device that you can shoot at actors to get them to hit their mark every time.

  4. #4

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    Just thought I'd let you know that the shoot went much better tonight. I used option 3 which worked well. Thanks for the advise Gaffer.

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    Glad to hear it, Midnight. Stage plays must be the worst lighting environments because of the often HUGE contrast (and I make no apologies for shouting). I've only had to deal with it once (a 100 strong choir) and can concur that the sections where I used manual aperture were considerably better than athe auto settings. However much of the manual was rubbish as the camera was "budget" and all controls were via menus and LCD displays. Give me physical manual controls every time (which manufacturere won't until you get into semi pro kit)
    Tim

  6. #6

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    Thanks Tim, I would have hated to have to go into the menu system to change the iris that would have been a nightmare. After a while and because I'd seen the whole thing at the tech rehearsals the night before, it went really well.

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    When I do theatre stuff I try to use as many similar cameras as possible and use one for mid shots rather than the whole stage of course it's not always possible and recording different angle on different nights is a continuity nightmare!

    I've always lowered the exposure (Gaffer's 1st suggestion) and fixed it in the edit which I know everyone will disagree with me on but I've still never been that happy with the results though so will give the stressy aperture setting a go.

    One thing I would advise though if you're just getting a wide shot of the whole stage is don't rely on auto focus. Focus before the lights go down and leave it as the change in light level can throw it off.

  8. #8

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    I agree totally about the auto focus. To be honest I've never even used the auto focus on my current camera. Without looking in the book of words, I'm not 100% sure how to switch it on. The one thing I would recommend from my experience last night. Always start a new scene with a long shot because it's easier on the iris setting when when coming from a black out, as each new scene seems to have a different light setting.

    Also I learned not to do a white balance on a piece of white scenery use a white board in a spot where the actors will be.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blue View Post
    Also I learned not to do a white balance on a piece of white scenery use a white board in a spot where the actors will be.
    Good tip.

    Bleedin' obvious when you think about it. But we often don't think about it until it's too late.
    Tim

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