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Topic: Taping your shows
Message: Posted by: fccfp (Dec 7, 2004 08:27AM)
I have taped my shows in the past so that I could see how I looked, as well as to get a different perspective on my props, set up, etc. (I reccomend this. You will probably find things to fix after viewing the first one you make.) I have always been disapointed in the result. Not the performance itself, just the way the show looks on tape. It is a one camera shoot. It is stationary with a handful of closeups and pans if my wife is up to it. Lighting can be a problem, but at this time I am not going to bring in photo-floods to a show.

Of course the tape does not have quick cuts, close ups from various angles, perspective shifts, all the things we are used to seeing on a tv performance.

Short of hiring a professional crew, any reccomendations on positioning, etc woudl be appreciated.
Message: Posted by: Kevin Ridgeway (Dec 7, 2004 08:53AM)
Fccfp...
As far as lighting goes, the amount of wash needed for a camera is far greater than our human eyes need at a live show.
You will need to provide a much greeater wash, and for best results it should be higher temperature lights, which will provide whiter whites and not yellow whites.

Our best experience comes from shooting in controlled situations without a live audience. Shoot the piece till you are happy with it, then move on to the next one. You can also make a two camera shoot by shooting from several dirrent places and editing them together, not the most time efficient way to do it, but it will work.

Another tip...set us a tv or monitor to see what the camera footage looks like. Do not rely on the small camera mounted monitor.

Good luck!!!
Kevin
Message: Posted by: M-Illusion (Dec 7, 2004 09:52AM)
I agree with Kevin 100%. Doing a taping without a live audience is always the best way to go. Several times, we have rented theatres just for taping purposes. We've also set up in non-theatre locations for filming, but always find a real venue to look the best for promo purposes.

If doing something like that isn't in your budget, why not try doing a little filming during a dress rehearsal at a performance venue before an actual show...of course, assuming that time permits.

Just a few more things to think about.

P.S. Kevin, thanks again for the walk through on the Elation software...everything is working GREAT!
Message: Posted by: fccfp (Dec 13, 2004 12:25PM)
I guess I may not have been clear. I am trying to see how I look in front of a real audiance. I don't believe I put out the same energy leval when just working for an empty room. I want to get reactions from the people helping me with the effects. Studying how they react to what is going on could be very useful as well.

Thanks
Bruce
Message: Posted by: ScottRSullivan (Dec 15, 2004 04:14PM)
A couple of things you could do that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg. Then there are a few things that would cost... well, a lot.

I would get the camera as close to the action as possible. Most cameras today come with a billion digital zoom or something like that. Discard the digital zoom and stick with the optical zoom. A wide shot, shot at a closer range (25-50 ft) will look better than a telephoto shot from the back of the room. It's just the nature of the lens.

Next, try and find the best camera possible. You want one that has as many manual controls as possible. The yellow/white light Kevin is talking about can be fixed with a camera that has the ability to do a "white balance." You want a camera that has this capability. What you will do is hold up a white piece of paper/cloth in front of the camera right before your show with the lights as they would be for your show. Press the white balance button and your camera 'resets' itself to match the light.

When you do this, you turn the different colored lights (ie. flourescent vs. spotlights) into a consistant color.

If you are interested in more info, please email me. I'd be happy to help. I run a video production company and would love to make sure you get plenty of useful information!

Warm regards,

Scott Sullivan
ReelsinMotion.com

P.S.
You mention getting audience shots. I am assuming you are using the footage for a promo video? If so, you NEED to get a signed release form from everyone who appears in your video. If you are doing this just to critique yourself, you don't need this (but I would still recommend it).
Message: Posted by: tjkmagicman (Jan 28, 2005 03:11PM)
What is the best kind of camcorder to buy to film your own promo stuff. I heard that the mini dv ones are the way to go and I also heard cannon was real good? price is a factor too defintitly would like to keep it around or under 500.00. thanks
Message: Posted by: David Bilan (Jan 28, 2005 08:40PM)
Magic is a hobby, video production has been my living for 22 years, so I feel safe offering my 2 cents worth.

Consumer Reports offers good reviews of camcorders. To get the latest ratings, you have to buy a subscrption, but it's only a buck a month and you can stop at any time. Mini-DV will provide your best picture compared to Hi-8 or (shudder) VHS-c. Sony makes a nice model. When you see optical zoom/digital zoom, go for the higher optical zoom. Digital zoom doesn't work the lense, but enlarges the pixels. Avoid auto focus like the plague.

You are right, it is hard to get a good idea of how you look with one consumer camera. Shooting multiple takes and editing doesn't show you in a single performance. However, you have a limited buget, so you maust make choices.

You talk about a stationary camera. I hope it's in a tripod.

I know you don't want video flood lights, but keep in mind, you are either documenting the show and the audience, or you are shooting the show and the audience is going to get second-best. In terms of getting the best quality out of those single CCD chip cameras... Purchasing a set of 500 watt work lights will help. Bouncing the light off the ceiling will reduce the harsh glare.

A wireless mic would help give you a better idea of your worth as well, but again, cost is a factor.

Cheap ways to get somone else to do the taping... Offer to work a telethon. Jerry's kids aren't the only ones who can use a little help. Check with your local community colege or university. Students in a video production class might jump at the chance to do a documentary on a magician.

Last but not least, call the production houses in your area. There's a reason they charge what they do... they provide a quality product (check references, please). Being professionally mic'ed, well-lit and a good multi-camera shoot can provide what you are looking for... a real assessment. If it's a good taping, you can always use it as a sales tool and write the cost off as a business expense. Keep in mind, a DVD/video with professional quality magic and professional quality video production shows you are both a serious professional and have the goods. Oh yeah, make sure you get professional labels, too.

Best of luck.
David Bilan
Message: Posted by: n3cromanc3r (Jan 29, 2005 09:08AM)
Just curious.. if you want to get an audience perspective of your show, why would you want a bunch of zooms quick cuts, close ups from various angles, perspective shifts and stuff when your audience doesn't have those things. I would think a stationary camera would be the way to go. It may not be as fancy but it's the way your audience sees the show. Since the camera would be in the back, maybe zoom it in slightly if you want to get the perspective of someone in the middle or whatever. The lighting of course is an issue. Hopefully you will do a show at some point with a follow spot or adaquate stage lighting for filming. Now if your trying to make a production video to sell yourself, that's a diffrent story. In that case, some of the things that have been suggested would work great.
Message: Posted by: ScottRSullivan (Jan 30, 2005 11:35PM)
David hits the nail on the head! Great post. For documenting your show for your own purpose, any miniDV camera will work. Set all the controls to manual (those cameras hate performers on a distant stage) so you don't get the autofocus going paranoid. Also, this will keep you from looking washed out.

For using footage on a promo video, listen to what David said, he's very right. By going through a pro, you'll get their $10,000 cameras which have 3 CCD (camera retina's, basically) that are each much larger than $300 consumer grade cameras. (Technical warning coming up!) Consumer cameras have 1 chip that is 1/4" across. "Prosumer" cameras will run about $2,000-$4,000 and have three 1/3" chips. Pro grade is $10,000 and will have three 1/2" chips. Plus, you can even pay more and get Hi-Def. This is more than likely overkill for a promo video, but hey, to each his own.

Those larger chips will mean better color (skin tones will look better). They will also mean that they can capture footage in darker settings (you save money by not having to give sunglasses to your audience to protect them from 'studio lights.')

Don't forget, if this is for a one time gig, you could always rent the camera. But in the end, as David said, hiring a crew would be the best bet. I know many magicians feel they can do it themselves. We have a tendancy to run our own music, design our own web sites, take our own promo photos and do our own videos. My turning point was when I got my promo photos done by Anne White. She did such a great job. I could never have done that. I needed an outside eye. Hire a pro video team (even if it is as David mentioned a college group).

Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

Warm regards,
Scott Sullivan