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Thread: New Band - Live Performance Video

  1. Default New Band - Live Performance Video

    Here's my latest live band video.There are a few areas I need to improve, including setting focus in manual mode (which can be a pain on my small camcorders) instead of using auto focus. I'm swapping out some of my mismatched cameras for Sony cameras with essentially identical color, but I still have a couple that don't match. That slows down the whole process.

    Audio is recorded on a Zoom H5 using only the X-Y mics. I placed it precisely centered between the speakers, on a very small tripod at the front edge of the balcony (under the table with the mixing console). I have multitrack audio from the board but haven't yet gotten around to mixing it.

  2. #2


    Hi there,

    First - let me start by saying: "I have filmed live performances on low budged venues, so i feel your pain".
    That being said.

    I don't know if that was a one time gig in that venue or if you plan to do more there, but i would consider the venue to be HOSTILE toward any kind of video recording.
    The lighting is just a horror show - it's horrible for video work.

    Without knowing the details about you or this gig - i'll just say this in GENERAL.
    When you or anyone records live performances, especially with multiple cameras - find the gaffer (lighting guy) in the venue and tell him to show you the light setup and sequences he has planned before you start recording and when you see something like this - tell him (politely) it will ruin your video and work something out (if possible).
    Obviously there are places where you have no other choice then to film in these conditions, but at least you will know you tried your best to fix the situation.

    BTW - i hope you were not the gaffer there?!

    Second - i would not put those front close up shots in the video. Example: 2:00 min, 2:45 min, 3:35 min and other places.
    Those are unusable quality vise IMO. My suggestion is - you should do quality control on yourself and throw low quality footage in the garbage.
    After all - a video represents you and the client. It's your job to showcase both in the best light (hah! you see what i did there? ) and the best way possible.
    It's not that it's your fault the quality in those shot's is so bad - it's actually the gaffers fault, that the lead singer doesn't even have a spot light on her.
    Very amateurish! As i said - the lighting is ruining your work!

    Honestly - i don't know what kind of gear you were using, but for the LOLZ you could put a decent latest gen smartphone on a hot shoe on top of your camera and just see the comparison. I think the latest smartphone cameras have decent enough low light and bitrate to outperform your camcorders.
    For sure YouTube compression is deteriorating your footage even further, but to me it looks like it's falling apart from some angles.

    Obviously no one would hire a crew with professional grade Broadcast cameras, like the Sony HSC-100 lineup for example, for this kind of event (it would cost more then the total income on that day), but other then that i imagine only something like a Sony A7S II could provide you with a decent image in those lighting conditions.

    About focus.
    Yep - it's a pain. Same argument - would not have that problem with pro broadcast gear (but it's too expensive for this).

    What i do in situations like these (really bad lighting and basically static movement from the band) is, i set manual focus using a bigger monitor (like a 7" Atomos) on my wide angles - push the F stop as much as i can without going over 1200 ISO if it's a diagonal shot (to get bigger DoF )
    If it's a frontal shot and the band stands in the same DoF line, then i go as low as 100 ISO and use even F/1.4 to get the cleanest image possible. F/1.4 has a super shallow DoF, but on wider angle lenses and these lighting conditions if's fine, because they stand in a perfect line and don't move much.
    And i use auto-focus only with my 1DX mkII as a closeup on the lead singer, because.... it's Canon AF.

    Other then that - do you have more GoPro's ? You can set those up as you did with a closeup on the instruments, but rig it also from the ceiling over the band facing the crowd to get reaction shots.
    I didn't see any audience angles, but that was maybe intentional there?

    About audio - It's pretty much what i do. Set up my Zoom H6 and also get audio from the board. Then - it depends... sometimes i take clean audio from the band and mix in the zoom for ambient noise, or sometimes i leave the zoom audio if the room had good acoustics and the client want's a real life feel.

    Most of the time, i reject offers to film venues like this though - exactly for those reasons.
    First of all - they don't pay well.
    Second - unless you need the cash badly or you want to do live event stage filming in the future, this kind of work will slow your growth, because you can't put this in your portfolio and expect higher value clients to throw jobs at you.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
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    Whilst taking on board your comments RL_Sensie, I wonder whether boulder soundguy could give us a bit of context.
    Yep, we all want to do as professional a job as possible, but (as you rightly point out out) we often have to go with what's achievable.

    Now, the lighting is poor, but, due to the incredibly adaptive nature of our eyes/brain, I wouldn't mind betting it didn't appear nearly as bad to the audience on the night. I face similar problems when I film local theatrical productions - whilst the lighting is (usually) much better than this, it is still lit for the theatre, not for the cameras in the same way that the sound is mixed for the theatre and not for recording (hence a mix from the desk is flat and often misses the chorus, if not miked, and the orchestra)

    However, I suspect BSG is in a similar position at these gigs to me. Turn up and film what's being presented, probably for the love of doing it and maybe make a bit of pocket money. It's experience. I like the theatrical production environment and I'm not taking work away from professionals because the professionals don't want to do it for the reasons you, yourself reject them. (Actually the typical "professional" package offered for what are amateur productions is one camera, one performance wide screen shot of the stage. Ok for a director to give notes to cast/crew about and OK as a record but not something the cast will want to watch more than onec (if at all).

    When I film, I film the same production over several evenings and so I am able to mix shots from different angles from different nights from the camera I handle (ie the one I can manipulate for composition, aperture & focus). BSG doesn't have that luxury and only has one camera from which to select - it's always going to be a tricky job.

    I have turned down filming bands in such an environment simply because I know how impossible it is. If asked to film live action of a band for publicity, I'd totally fake it. Use the venue for the afternoon and get them to play the same song over and over whilst filmng from different angles. Probably use a "Live studio" recording which they can play along to (note: play, not mime as miming just looks wrong).

  4. #4


    Yeah, i'm hoping to get some more info as well regarding that gig.

    If it's a "come film a live performance for the first time here" type of thing, then i completely understand that he had to work with what was available.
    Still, i would have asked the gaffer to show me his lighting before the event starts and at least told him not to use the damn disco ball light effect on the band. It ain't the 80s and that lighting effect looks very bad on camera, especially in those conditions with pretty much every possible rainbow color being pointed at the band.
    I blame the gaffer for such amateurish light setup.

    It probably did not look that bad in real life, but i would not say that the overall aesthetic of the stage (that freak show on the projector wall and the lights) was anything but a 2 out of 10.

    IDK, maybe i am just used to a certain standard after working more then a year with the third largest Stage & Sound crew in my country, but even in a club (i assume this was some kind of club?) the people involved can produce a higher level outcome without extra spending.

    I think he said he has multiple cameras in the OP and you can also see it in the video!?

    Theater is more relaxed i think, in terms of filming. As you said - you can shoot multiple evenings and mix the footage. Their performances are usually very precise, so changing angles from day 1 to day 2 would be quite easy i assume.

  5. Default

    It was an open mic night with a bare bones crew already stretched to the limit of their capabilities and running behind schedule because of some technical difficulties (which I instantly identified but they were too distracted to listen). Lighting isn't the main focus of their attention. It's actually done by the sound person. The band was allotted twenty minutes on stage, not enough to warrant dictating lighting preferences. They were one of about a dozen acts that night. I agree that the lighting was rather random, but this is near the bottom of the performance hierarchy. If it were a full show I'd spend some time sorting lights.

    My goal is to show up and take what I get while adding little or no stress to the crew or venue. This isn't about my video, it's about the band demonstrating that they can perform. The band and crew do their thing, I just capture and present it in the best light (heh) possible. If it shows the band performing well, especially in adverse circumstances, it's a success.

    This band is people I work with on a regular basis primarily for fun, not random clients. I did this video for my own entertainment and as a demo for bands who might want something better than the phone cam video with distorted audio.

    I keep my gear small and light, which keeps my price low. I'm not trying to compete with a pro video production company but with the single phone cam that most bands end up with. The photo shows my camera case that has seven cameras, H5 audio recorder, mini tripods, clamps, cables, tape, batteries etc. Once I sort out a cart for my tripods it will be a one trip load in/out. Total replacement cost for all my cameras is probably less than the cost of one pro camera.


  6. #6
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    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
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    Thanks for the insight, BSG. Even worse condidtions than I'd anticipated.
    This gives the band an idea of how they present themselves and (to a lesser extent how they sound) and is obviously far better than the fixed cam at the back of teh hall or the wobbly hand-held single POV smartphone.
    If they are collegues and if they are at all interested in creating a more polished demo for the purposes of gaining bookings (and if you and the band are up for it, of course) I'd seriously suggest staging the whole thing in an environment where you have some control. You coud even make it a pastiche of an a well known music video. I think you'd have fun planning, filming and editing.

  7. #7


    Thanks for the info BSG.

    Yeah, the conditions don't sound great. Seems to me the venue is mismanaged and probably not earning enough to justify better or more crew.
    However, i still think there is no excuse for the sound guy, who is also the gaffer and probably made that freak show background video on the projector wall (with that awefull font type on the bands name), to not step up his game and produce something a bit more professional.
    I mean - the whole thing reminded me of a untalented kid drawing in Microsoft Paint.

    Literary half of the stage work could be improved without spending any money.

    If this video is meant for the band as a learning video (to see themselves from the audiences POV, how they do on stage, what to improve and so on), then it's fine for what it is.

    But if they show this video to attract new clients (and the same goes for you) - then i think it would backfire.
    Don't get me wrong - you did your best under those circumstances, but it doesn't change the fact, that the bands performance... on THAT stage, in THOSE lighting conditions... looks very bad. Not the band it'self or your edit - but the visual part of it caused by that horrendous lighting.

    I just think it's not a good representation of the band or your work.

    Maybe you know this already, but here is free business advice!
    This is how bands who want a pro level video without spending almost any money do it here.
    • They find a small to medium size concert venue in your area and befriend the stage crew (usually the companies owner or co-owner is part of the crew, or at least a manager).
    • They simply ask - hey, we are a new band (bla bla bla), after the concert is done, could we use your stage for an hour to film a music video.
    • We will pay you, the sound and lighting guys... idk... $50 - $100 each to do the sound and lighting for us.
    • They record straight from the board to a laptop with recording software.
    • They usually bring their own camera guy with gear or ask (pay) someone from the video crew in that event.

    Done - they end up with a live performance on a Pro level stage with pro lighting and sound (that would usually cost tens of thousands) for couple hundred bucks.

    This happens regularly here.

    You could be the guy filming and facilitating something like that to bands in your area. Just get in touch with Stage companies and work something out.

  8. Default

    The band has its own studio where we can make a video under controlled conditions. There's even space for an audience of friendly invited guests. We've done that in the past with previous bands and it's cool. But that says nothing about the band's ability to engage a crowd of strangers and get their applause. That's the main purpose of the video. The video production aspects are actually rather secondary. My concerns are less about the lighting and more about color matching, sync, edit decisions. But thanks for the input.

  9. #9


    I see your point now.
    It's more about the technical aspect of video production itself and more on the editing side.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    But that says nothing about the band's ability to engage a crowd of strangers and get their applause. That's the main purpose of the video.
    Without wishing to sound harsh, neither does this video and neither is any video filmed live under these circumstances.
    As RL_Sensei has stated above you need reaction shotrs of the audience. But I can guarantee that if you film a "real" audience either dancing or sittings standing in a club like this, it will look a bit sparse. What feels packed tightly together in real life looks anything but on camera. Just look at the way people lean in when taking selfies - if they don't the photo is mainly of space between. Similarly, applause. The band gets what comes across as a good round of applause from a few people with one or two whoops thrown in for good measure. I bet it sounded a lot bigger if you were there.
    Serously, stage it. Cram the audience into much tighter spaces than they would normally feel comfortable with and get in close (unless they genuinely have dozens of people they can call upon to make it look packed).
    It may not be a spontaneous live recording, but it will provide a much better (and more accurate) impression of what it feels like to be part of an audience watching the band.

    I can't believe I'm saying this. Up until I started making videos/films and looking at what works, I would have been very anti anything that wasn't a true record. I despised overdubs being used on "live" albums. But now I appreciate it's actually about giving a realistic impression of the event, rather than documenting the actuality.

    You may well disagree (and I totally respect that)

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