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Choosing Gear for a Multiple Camera Shoot

You've toured the venue, extracted pages of details from the client, and you're ready to put your gear list together.  Most of us would feel lucky if we even had one complete set of equipment in our arsenal, so you may need to borrow or rent additional gear to pull off a multiple camera production. In this segment, we talk about choosing cameras, support, audio gear, and lighting. Using the right gear is the core of a good shoot, and a great final product.

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Video Transcript

 

You've toured the venue, extracted pages of details from the client, and you're ready to put your gear list together.  Most of us would feel lucky if we even had one complete set of equipment in our arsenal, so you may need to borrow or rent additional gear to pull off a multiple camera production.In this segment, we talk about choosing cameras, supports, audio gear, and lighting. Using the right gear is the core of a good shoot, and a great final product. Choosing gear for a multi-cam production is largely dependent on the particulars of the event itself, as well as the location.  Let's start with cameras.There are five main things you'll need to consider before selecting a camera: Maximum Record Time, Focal Length of your lenses, low-light capabilities, audio capabilities, and media type.Even the most recent DSLR cameras can only record 29 minutes and 59 seconds, so if you're planning to roll longer than that without a break, you'll need to stick with a traditional camcorder.Whatever you choose, you'll need to make sure that the lens on your camera has an appropriate focal length to capture the shots you need.  Knowing your camera placement, where the action is taking place, and what type of shots you need from that particular camera will help you decide.  Conversely, if you've only got a specific camera or cameras to work with, you'll need to make sure you place them correctly to get the shots you need.Another factor you'll want to consider is the lighting. If your event will have dim lighting, as many weddings and performances do, the camera and lens you choose need to be well suited for low-light shooting.  Ideally, the bigger the sensor and the smaller f-stop, the more likely you'll get great low light footage without having to boost the gain or iso, which can result in noisy footage.Keep in mind that shooting at a smaller f-stop will also give you shallower depth of field, which can make it tough to keep the action in focus if your subjects are moving unpredictably. Another factor to consider is a camera's audio capabilities.DSLR cameras aren't known for pristine audio inputs, while camcorders with XLR inputs can certainly get the job done, with easy access to critical audio controls.Finally, you should consider what type of memory the cameras take, and make sure that you've got enough cards with enough memory to record the entire event.So, you've managed to round up the perfect cameras, with the perfect lenses, and now you need to decide what type of support you'll use.  This will largely depend on what type of shots you need for your event.Typically, one camera will be your master shot and remain fairly static, so you'll want at least one tripod. If your master shot will have movement, you'll want to make sure your tripod has a fluid head. If not, a ball head tripod might be sufficient.If you have a roaming hand-held camera, you may want to consider using some type of stabilizing rig to ensure smooth shots.If you've promised the client some really grand wide shots, a jib will get the job done nicely.Now you've got the video side covered with proper cameras and support, and it's time to tackle the audio gear. If you're not able to take the audio feed from the house, you'll need to consider three things.How many microphones will you need, what types of microphones will you use, and how will you record the audio.Let's talk about how many microphones you need. The goal is to capture the sound you need, while minimizing the amount of equipment you'll need to acquire it.  Choosing the right type of mic can help reduce the number that you need.  A single omni-directional lapel mic on a groom is often sensitive enough to pick up the bride and official, and it moves where the groom moves. A dynamic cardioid mic is perfect for miking a guitar amp directly while rejecting other sound, but you'll need enough to mic each instrument to mic a band well.  In many cases, wireless mics are ideal because your cameras or audio recorder are likely to be a considerable distance from where your mic is placed. But in the case of a musical performance, wired mics may work just fine.Once your mics are selected, you'll need to make sure you can get all those signals recorded.  If you have a sufficient number of audio inputs on your cameras or switcher, you can record directly, otherwise, you may need to get a portable audio recorder with enough inputs to handle all your mics.  Another option is to feed all your audio into a mixer, and then record the output signal to a camera or portable recorder.  Of course, mixing on site will give you less flexibility in post-production.Now we've come to the lights.  If your planning to supplement the existing light, you'll need to acquire the proper lights and stands to bring the light level up to par with the capabilities of your cameras.  This could be anything from large softboxes on C-Stands to small on-camera LED lights.  You should also try to use lighting that matches the color temperature of the existing lighting to avoid white balance issues.It's tough enough to gather all the gear you need for a one-camera shoot, and multiple camera shoots can really put a strain on your budget.  But there's still a few decisions left to make before you have everything you need.In our next segment, we talk about choosing a multi-cam workflow and setting up your gear at the event.  From basic safety considerations to matching cameras, it's the final hurdle before you hit record and capture the magic.