Shooting Live Performance Article a Life Saver

Raised the Bar

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I thought the June 2010 issue is the best issue I have seen so far. Lots of great information and great articles. You raised your own bar!

Lee Gnatzig

Shooting Live Performances

I want to thank you for the article on shooting live performances, it couldn’t have come along at a better time. My friend’s band had a show at a popular venue and asked me to shoot some footage. I never shot a live performance, and John McCabe’s tips and tricks really came in handy, especially the tip to have as many cameras rolling as possible.

Ironically, John’s article referred to a fictitious band named Cackling Hyenas and my friend’s band is named Hyena, too weird. Keep up the good work, Videomaker always seems to know just what we budding professionals need. To see the video visit:
Thanks again,

Walker Hicks


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Hobby Shooter with Dreams

Do you think it would be too much in buying a pro camcorder (Canon XL H1s). I’m a beginner who shoots around at family gatherings with a simple camcorder. I do have bigger dreams – sporting events, special occasions, weddings to documentaries and so on – that I wish to shoot someday. Do you think I am jumping the gun by buying big boy toys first?


You pose an interesting question, Larry, one that we receive often.

First off, going pro (or buying pro) doesn’t always mean having a huge assortment of Big Buck gear or making top dollar in your chosen career. Going pro also doesn’t mean you have a large production facility or crew at your disposal. “Pro” can merely mean you’re paid, at some point, but if you plan to shoot only family events, your question is: do you need the pro camera? Well, it depends on what you want to shoot, how you want to shoot it, and what you want to do with that footage once you’ve acquired it.

We know many pro shooters who use small unobtrusive consumer cameras to hide the fact that they are pro shooters for many reasons – one being theft another being stealth. We also know these pros are just like you, and take a family trip to the beach and don’t want to lug around the Big Rig (or risk getting it damaged), for a lark in the park. So they have their small inexpensive camcorders they use.

We also know some pros, or former-pros who are now retired, who want the ability to be as creative as possible with the family videos they shoot without the limitations that some consumer cameras might place upon them. Gathering good clean audio, shooting in low light situations without grain and being able to manipulate the shutter speed and iris are just a few of the things you can do with a pro-level camera that you might not be able to do with an inexpensive consumer one.

We know of some hobbyists who shoot events on the side for pay, as a way to offset the expense of the gear, thus having a way to justify the cost of their very expensive hobby, (along with convincing the spouse that they really need that new XLR mic!)

Finally, consider the still photographer’s world. If you go to any weekend soccer game, county fair or school musical, you’re going to see parents with small digital point-n-shoot cameras and parents fully rigged out with several gear bags around their necks carrying cameras, lenses, and other accessories. Not all those carrying pro-level gear are pros, and not all those carrying inexpensive point-n-shooters are amateurs.

True video artists can shoot fantastic video using any camera because they know how to manipulate the shot using composition, lighting and a skillset that they’ve acquired over the years. We know of video contests with a requirement that the shooters use only cell phone cameras and must rely on time-honored composition skills to be in the running.

By learning from the masters and absorbing their techniques, understanding the rules and when it’s OK to break them, and a lot of trial and error, then you can be on your way to pro-level video production someday. You are limited only by your abilities, your dreams and your pocketbook. Having the best gear doesn’t make you a better shooter, but it does give you better opportunities to manipulate the shot to your satisfaction. We say, buy what you think you will grow into, but also consider the advances and changes in the technology. You don’t want to blow all your funds on a camera that you might wish to replace in the very near future, but can’t due to it’s cost. Then again, there’s always a newer slicker better rig on the horizon, and waiting doesn’t get those stories shot! It’s all about balance, and what works best for your needs. Good luck.

– The Editors

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.