Stage Show Video Shooting & Editing Tips
Stage performance includes concert, stage drama, opera, magician show, etc.
You may not be able to get business from professional performance organizations when you start. But you can always look for opportunities from school, church, neighborhood community, amateur organizations, even local government, and so forth.
There is a very high chance that some kind of semi-professional performance is taking place right now within 10 kilometers from your house. You will be amazed at how many such events happening everyday if you check bulletin board, notice, newspaper ads. Approach them. Many are willing to pay a certain amount for taping their hard work.
Charge a reasonable price. They are not wealthy. If they were, they would have in house facilities or hire crew from TV station. Donít fight in this market for now. As I will show you later, stage show is rather easy to shoot and edit. And it will be also easier for your client to justify that several hundred bucks rather than a few thousand.
Provide them high quality products. If they are happy with your service, you will surely get more business. Do you think the amateur group will hold only one show and then dismiss? No. They will try their best to survive as long as they can. And you, as a qualified service provider, will get business from them year after year.
Never dissatisfy them. A digital camcorder is pretty much affordable to almost everyone. They would rather set up their own camera and shoot next time if you donít deliver much more than that. Through your works, you should convince them that they canít get a professional looking video just by pointing camcorder to the stage. It needs far more knowledge and experience.
Yet it is not difficult for a qualified video editor at all.
Normally, your clients want a video with whole coverage of the performance. And only that. They want their hard work to be recorded faithfully for future reference and distribution to each participant. This nature indicates that you donít need to do much effect. What you have to do is make the flow smooth and clear. At its best, a viewer of the video will have the same experience as the audience has at site.
Here are some stage video shooting and editing tips and suggestions:
Scan their poster, brochure, use this ďofficialĒ and hopefully well-designed graphic as the beginning title. You may need to do some simple modification via PhotoShop or other similar software. Make the title large and clear enough. This will be much better than plain text on black background.
Include rolling credit, copyright statement, date produced, your clientsí logo at the end. This is a very effective method to make the video look more complete and professional just like any ďformalĒ programs broadcast on TV. Check with the client whether they want to include contact information so that they can use it as marketing video as well.
Donít finish the video until performers answer the curtain call. Few people would mind watching prolonged cheers to themselves. Drag it as long as possible. End it just before the cheers starting decrease so that it looks like the cheers are continuing. If you have a chance to shoot a show with 30 minutes applause, congratulations and do whatever you want to do.
Prepare three cameras together with tripods. At least two. If you can only bring one, forget about this project.
Ask for permission to shoot rehearsal in full costume. Go onto the stage to look for interesting angles you can never get otherwise. You may find that a shot taken from behind the actors, usually with back light, is very charming. Be careful not to cover the audience seats in such a shot. Mix these shots with your actual takes every now and then.
Get familiar to the stage movement in advance if possible. Performing art is becoming more and more active and interactive nowadays. The performer may come down into audience and talk to them, or enter the auditorium from rear. You canít miss these actions since these are the special treatments the director is proud of most.
If the show is longer than the tape duration you use, make an arrangement so that when one camera is changing tape, the other two are still rolling.
All the cameras can change framing according to the plot. But do it slowly. Every cameraman should assume her camera is on air all the time. Otherwise, if at some point, all three cameras are shaking in the progress of changing frame, you are out of luck. Of course if you are sitting in front of a video switcher and an array of monitors, equipped with walkie-talkie, thatís another story.
Shoot from three angles continuously. Donít stop or pause.
Now you have three takes with full coverage. Digitize them all from beginning to the end. Use camera at center as master take and put it in layer one of your timeline. Put the other two in the layers below. Look for an easy-to-distinguish sound, maybe the first syllable of first line, as a reference, align these three takes in timeline. Donít shift their relative position from now on. Cut between these three takes.
Donít cut audio together with video. Sound tracks picked up from different position sound different. The viewer will be distracted if you cut audio back and forth. Select the best audio track and stick to it.
The plot, actorís line, stage movement will give you good suggestion on which take to cut to. For example, when one of the actors is talking, you should apparently cut to the take that covers her expression better. Insert otherís reaction when necessary. Try to identify where the focus is in directorís mind and show it to your audience.
Whenever the actors are interacting with audience, cover that with audienceís reaction.
Usually you donít need to cut out anything unless thereís a mistake. For instance, the actor forgot his line. Shorten the gaps between scenes. Cut all three takes together when you cut out anything.
Cut between wide shot, medium shot, close up. Donít stay at a single frame size for too long. Avoid using close up as first shot for each scene. Use a wide shot, or medium shot sometimes, to establish the relation first. On the contrary, the ending shot can be a close up focusing expression very often.
Donít be afraid of using close up and medium shot. Even though maybe everyone on the stage is doing something, but there is only one point of focus most probably. You canít and donít have to cover everything on the stage. In fact, one of the advantages of viewing from a video compared with viewing in the auditorium is that you can see it nearer, clearer from different angles.
Take your hard disk space into consideration. Edit scene by scene if you canít store the whole show in your system. Calculate before digitizing.
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