Concert videography

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Chris DeVoe, Sep 6, 2018.

  1. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I was having a private message exchange with @Jrr, and thought others might be interested.

    We're both event videographers (which is too a real thing, uppity spellchecker!). He does school plays and dance events, and I do almost exclusively concert video, principally for the School of Rock.

    Anyone else do event video? We can trade tips and techniques.
    SandAndGlass and Ghostworld like this.
  2. tomhayes

    tomhayes Forum Resident

    San Diego, Ca
    It's easy to film concerts - just watch this video and then do the opposite please :0
  3. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I use eight cameras at once to shoot a show by myself. I recently did five bands in three cities, plus support acts. The final one in Philadelphia was six and a half hours, and fortunately I had couple of volunteers to man one of the cameras.

    All of my equipment fits into two bags, one hard-sided carry-on roller bag, and one custom-built tripod bag (I also have a backpack for my laptop and clothes.)
  4. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here's an example from the last show I shot.

    I have one Canon XH-A1 camera with a 20x lens, four Canon XH-A1 cameras for left, center, right and handheld, a Canon HF-M50 for wide and two GoPro Hero 3+ cameras for drums and keys.

    For editing, I use the rather obscure Grass Valley program Edius. It's been in development as long as Avid, and allows me to load eight camera tracks and multiple soundtracks and switch among them easily.
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  5. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here's my camera rig at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

  6. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here's the editing timeline from that show:

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  7. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Brain malfunction. I actually have four small Canon HF-S200 cameras for left, center, right and handheld. They are small handicams.


    The small knob underneath the lens is programmable, and can be used for a number of functions. I usually have it set for exposure, which in concert situations is the trickiest thing to control, with bright lights behind the performer casting what you want to capture into darkness.
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  8. EdgardV

    EdgardV Forum Resident

    Back in the early 2000s I had a short stint of three years as a videographer and creative consultant for a local cable access television station. They had a lot of very talented producers and directors, and a fair amount of good equipment and facilities.

    I primarily shot concerts, school theater, parades and talk shows.

    I don't remember the technical lables, but the station had plenty of equipment and studios at their building, and for location shoots, they had a mobile power truck for technical directing and editing and a bunch of traditional cameras on tripods as well as mobile cameras.

    When we shot concerts and theater, we used as few as three cameras, and as many as eight manned cameras.

    As a professional print art director and designer, I found the stretch into video to be interesting and challenging. I enjoyed attempting to apply my creativity to a medium I had little experience in.
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  9. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The biggest issue in concert video is vibration being picked up by the cameras.

    Two causes.

    One is overly light tripods. I've seen people trying to shoot with selfie sticks with little legs and those very light tripods that are only useful for point'n'shoot still cameras. The very light tripods are light enough to shake on their own from the bass notes. You need a tripod with at least enough mass that it doesn't do that. It's not fun to carry around the extra weight, but it's necessary.

    The other is vibration picked up from the floor. That I deal with using small "memory foam" pillows that I had a friend sew up. They are 4" squares, that we compressed and sewed a seam into around the edges to slightly compress them. I put one under each of the feet of my tripods, and it blocks out almost all vibration from the subwoofers, and people walking even in venues with wooden floors like Chicago Schuba's, Beat Kitchen and Subterranean.
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  10. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here's the equipment I carry to a show:

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  11. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    You can see the little foam pillows on the floor. The two GoPros are on microphone stands, the short one for the drummer, the taller one for the keys.

    The silver tripod is normally used to raise laser levels to ceiling height, so it can go 11 feet in the air when I put the extension post in. I made the horizontal bar out of aircraft aluminum stock, and mounted four tiny pan-tilt mounts on it to support 3 Canon HF-S200 cameras, and one Canon HF-M50 one.

    There are two AKG "short shotgun" microphones just below the camera bar.

    Midway up is the camera brace I use for handheld.

    The black tripod is supporting my Canon XH-A1 with the 20x lens.

    Midway up that one is my 7" Liliput monitor. The silver box is a "quad split", a tiny unit to take in four composite video inputs and show all four, or any one, on the screen. The black box is a tiny Rolls 2 channel mixer, to connect to the main mixing board, and cut or boost the feed from the house. It also drops the volume down to microphone level to feed one of the HF-S200 cameras.
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  12. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    That’s nice you can see all your film clips in that window. Can they all run in sync at the same time so that you can constantly monitor your options while editing? I can’t do that with my Adobe system. And is that two monitors or one big widescreen?
    Chris DeVoe likes this.
  13. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    I love lining all my cameras up like that in the studio when I need to check things out!
  14. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    All eight clips play simultaneously. The program makes lower resolution proxy versions of the high-definition files, generally overnight.

    The 8 cameras are in a 3 by 3 grid, with the upper right one being a preview monitor. I'm able to select cameras by hitting numbers on the number pad, and as the video plays I can switch from camera to camera like on a video switcher. So when I'm moving quickly, I can make a rough multi-camera edit in real time. Then I scrub back to the beginning of the song, turn off multicam mode, turn off the proxy and turn on full screen view (three hotkeys) and playback the high definition edit to make sure that it's okay. Any changes, go back into multicam and I can slide the cut points.

    It takes me roughly 15 minutes to fully edit a song.

    And that's a screen capture of two 27-inch monitors.
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  15. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    I have read some of your comments on the forums. I think you mentioned shooting in HDV, but outputting a standard DV file (wide) for editing and final edited master.

    Here you mention a high definition video edit. Are you using an intermediate codec?

    Love seeing your gear and hearing about your methods, but shooting and post.
  16. sons of nothing

    sons of nothing Forum Resident

    Some helpful info here. I shoot with a little camera, but need something small and compact that deals well with being in lower light situations. For some reason, my lil Nikon coolpix s9300 always goes darker when I start filming 1080.
  17. Michael Rose

    Michael Rose Forum Resident

    I remember how much I was looking forward to watching this dvd when I bought it. Then I saw THAT WOMAN highlighted with those crappy efx doing the hippie dance. I did not finish the concert and traded it away shortly after.
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  18. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I still shoot with an HDV camera, the Canon XH-A1, but I rarely use the tape transport. It also has a Firewire output, and my friend jrr got me set up with a CityDisk recorder, that records to a a CompactFlash card. I have one that is 128 gigabytes and can store 11 hours of video. It still records in AVC/HD, the same format it previously recorded to one hour DV tapes.

    All of my cameras except the GoPros are 1080i which are 1080P. My favorite thing about Edius is that it accepts a huge variety of formats and codecs natively. I mix AVC/HD, QuickTime and MPEG4 on the same timeline without having to transcode anything. In order to play 8 HD camera streams at once from a single spinning hard drive, I do have to make a lower resolution "proxy" version, but I can switch between full and proxy at any time. Tech pundits predict that SSD prices will hit parity with mechanical ones in about a year, and when that happens, I'll be able to work in HD at all stages.

    Since I hung out on that forum, I've started to do handheld at every show, and it's dramatically improved the quality of my videos, and I'll get musicians and singers playing to the camera.
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  19. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    You didn't touch on why intermediate codecs are used with HDV footage. I take you you are getting by without the bother.

    HDV and AVCHD both do not handle being edited or processed very much in post without noticeable loss the quality. In Apple Mac land, its Prores 422, and in PC world its most often Cineform.

    Outputting to DV (as I read you once did) avoids this issue.

    But now you no longer work in DV I think you just said. But you did not answer my question about going straight to intermediate, before post work?

    Do you use intermediate codec between shooting and post / editing?
  20. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    I would agree, some hand held is attractive - but I would use a stick so my arms don't cramp up after 50 min. or so. Even if these performances ypu do are each short sets, it looks good - best of both worlds to use stick with hand held.
  21. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I don't believe any intermediate codecs are used, or if they are, the process is invisible to me as a user. On the screenshot above, I literally dropped the raw camera files onto the timelines. It takes a few minutes for the audio waveforms for each file to appear, but as soon as they do, I can slide all the content to start matching them up. But the video can play instantly.

    I'm looking at a typical edit I have on my laptop, with all eight camera tracks.

    1. Close (XH-A1) Container HDV HD2 - Profile MP@HL1440 - CBR - 25 Mpbs - Chroma format 4:2:0
    2. Handheld (HF-S200) Container AVCHD - Profile High@L4.0 - VBR - 22.7 Mbps - Chroma format 4:2:0
    3. Left (HF-S200) Container AVCHD - Profile High@L4.0 - VBR - 22.7 Mbps - Chroma format 4:2:0
    4. Center (HF-S200) Container AVCHD - Profile High@L4.0 - VBR - 22.7 Mbps - Chroma format 4:2:0
    5. Drums (GoPro Hero 3+) Container MP4 - Profile High@L4.1 - CBR - 20.0 Mbps - Chroma format 4:2:0
    6. Right (HF-S200) Container AVCHD - Profile High@L4.0 - VBR - 22.7 Mbps - Chroma format 4:2:0
    7. Keys (GoPro Hero 3+) Container MP4 - Profile High@L4.1 - CBR - 20.0 Mbps - Chroma format 4:2:0
    8. Wide (Canon HF-M50) Container AVCHD - Profile High@L4.0 - VBR - 22.7 Mbps - Chroma format 4:2:0
    After a show, I copy all the component materials from the STREAM directories of each card - full size SD cards from the HF-S200s and HF-M50, MicroSD from the GoPros, and a Compact Flash from the CitiDisk recorder I use with the XH-A1.

    Edius has been in continuous development since it was known as "DVRex" in the late 90s, and they have powerful real-time codecs. They used to have custom hardware for capture and decoding, and eventually processor and GPU speed caught up with them.

    My workflow is camera -> chip -> hard drive -> Edius -> edit. When I am finished, I'll render out to anything I need - usually MP4 1080P for upload to YouTube or to a DVD or BluRay.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  22. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Most of the AllStars sets are 45 minutes, but a typical regular season School of Rock show is between 90 minutes and sometimes over two hours. Fortunately, I'm using a light camera - a Canon HF-S200 with the largest battery is less than 2 pounds.

    The brace I use is a Manfrotto Modosteady. It was marketed as a cheap SteadiCam, and it is utterly useless for that. But as a lightweight, collapsible camera brace, it's wonderful!

    More than 300 shows, some of which are part of day-long festivals, have given me a lot of arm strength and a very steady hand. I'll drop the camera between songs, but otherwise I'm shooting.

    Here's a show on the plaza in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the final song of AllStars Team 5's set, a mega-guitar solo version of Joe Walsh's Rocky Mountain Way:

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  23. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    It probably goes to a faster shutter speed in video mode. You can probably over-ride that.

    Most "Point'n'Shoot" cameras have limited zooms, usually 3x, and absolutely terrible microphones. If you want to shoot at a concert, you need something with stereo microphones, manual audio level controls, a mic pad to keep the mics from overloading, and some way to manually control exposure. And an optional larger battery.

    Canon has a Refurbished camcorder store on their web site:

    Almost all of the ones in their store are their HF-R series. I don't like them for my use as they have overly high pixel counts. This might sound a bit weird, but it's better to have no more than 1920 x 1080 pixels on a chip, 2.1 megapixels, because each larger pixel gathers more light. But consumers think more is better, so their cheaper cameras have higher pixel counts to put that number on a sticker. The HF-S and HF-M series both have "Native" 1080 chips.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  24. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    A stick is not an option - I just couldn't move fast enough to keep up in the kids with one.
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  25. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    I can’t begin to tell you how much easier my life would be if I could edit that way. I am using a stripped down version of Adobe Premiere (Elements); I assume by getting the full version I could do that, but I do NOT want to support the lousy subscription service the industry is going to, and with Elements you own it and they update it every year, and they also package it with Photoshop and until I saw your screen (thanks a lot buddy) I thought it was doing everything I needed it to do. If I could do “takes” on the fly, that would speed things up unbelievable. Thank you for the info!!
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