How to shoot a concert/show

  • This topic has 11 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 14 years ago by Anonymous.
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    • #37086

      Friday my uncle wants me to go to a local festival and record his band playing. He only wants a few songs recorded. I have a HC1 and my friend is bringing his Sanyo that shoots 720p. Unfortunatly this is all we really have to work with. I also thought about getting his Panasonic that shoots DV to set up on a tripod directly behind the crowd facing the band. I know this is going to be a mess and a disasiter when editing but does anyone have any helpful tips or has anyone tried recording a show before?

      I plan on getting the Spiderbrace 2 and an external light (HVLHIRL or the HVLHL1 any suggestions!?) to use when shooting the crowd. The band will have an extensive lighting system on stage. Will the footage turn out fine if they have plenty of lights on them even though we’re filming mostly at night? This was kind of a last minute idea and the only thing planned out is that the guy who does his audio is recording it seperatly onto a hard drive or DAT and that there will be another mic set up infront of the band that will wirelessly by connected to my HC1.

      I know this is a mess but I figured I might as well try. Any one have any ideas or suggestions for me? I figured the spiderbrace might not be good for seeing over the crowd, but a holding a monopod up in the air would be even worse. I figure if I stand to the side mostly we might have some decent footage from 3 different angles ( my friend will stand on the other side of the crowd). Help!

    • #164405

      Well, first off, the more cameras, the better. Round up friends, neighbors, pets, anyone with a decent video camera. Keep in mind that for shooting at night, you’ll need a good camera. The MINIMUM would be something with a 1/3" CCD (3CCD setup preferably) and you should be fine.

      For a good setup, you would probably want two cameras on the band at all times, one taking a "C.Y.A." medium-wide shot, and one that can go in for tighter shots. Make those two the nicer cameras, and keep them both on the same side of the talent (i.e. make an invisible line that runs through your talent and don’t cross it with the cameras. This is also called the 180 rule or the 180 degree rule. It keeps your shots looking right.)

      . If you’re using a light, a less nice camera could be used for the crowd cam. Take sweeping shots of the crowd, shots zooming into groups, and tight shots of people rocking to the music.

      Finally, if you have a fourth camera and cameraperson, they can be the ones to have fun. They can come up behind the drummer to get POV shots hitting the drums. This person gets to move around the band, getting details your other cameras might miss. This person should be fairly agile and coordinated, as you don’t want a clumsy videographer to trip and take out the drummer during his solo!

      In editing, it should actually be pretty straight-forward if you do it like that. Just sync up all the cameras, and if you’ve got Adobe Premiere Pro 2 or better, you can use the "multicam" feature to do switching between the shots.

      Most importantly, have fun with it!

    • #164406

      Some very good tips above. My own take:

      In my not always humble opinion: Dont worry about the 180 rule. (You will have plenty else to be figuring out and dealing with.) If you have a cam at the front of stage (on the stage or off the stage), right side, looking towards center; AND a cam at the front of stage, left side, looking towards center, you have already broken this rule. Or, if you have a camera at the front of stage, at the center, and point towards the left and then the right or vice versa, you have broken this rule. Thanks in part to the anarchy of music videos, Id estimate that 99.99% of concert footage shot in the last 25 years and ending up in a finished production, has ignored this rule. The rule was established at the ancient beginning of cinema to enhance realism for the audience and prevent disorientation. However, if it were followed these days for a concert, for many viewers, it may well come across as noticeably static. Otherwise, outside of concert events, experimental, etc. etc. etc., the 180 rule still applies. (Refers to half of a circle, a circle being 360 degrees. The cam shooting into the scene is not supposed to move away from its half of the imaginary circle (180 degrees) surrounding the scene.

      Make sure its OK to shoot. The band may not control this. Check in advance.

      Do not block the view of the audience. Get cameras as close as you can, but stay out of the way and low.

      Consider a tripod on stage in front of where lead singer will be or that general area. Tripod set low, camera angled upwards, wide angle preferable but not essential. Heavy duty tripod and/or sandbags to prevent tripod from knocking over the first time it is bumped or hit by a gust.

      With most professionally lit stages, having floods, spots, etc., you will not need to bring in extra lights. (Be careful with floods if you encounter them across front of stage (foot lights); Ive burned myself good on these buggers; its happened several times; cant learn my lesson on this one; just paying too much attention to my shots.)

      With a well lit stage, especially if you are right at the stage, you can often (not always!) go with auto focus, due to the wide depth of field/focus that the bright lights give your cams. Further away from the stage, manual focus might make sense; set it once and dont worry about it.

      Stage lighting with a wandering spotlight can be some of the most breathtakingly challenging for staying within an acceptable exposure range. While you may be able to get away with auto focus, you will probably not be able to get away with permanent auto exposure in this situation (roving spotlight), unless you dont mind blown-out faces (i.e., way overexposed). When the spotlight is on a performer, zoom in with auto exposure until you are in super close-up, then lock that setting by hitting the manual exposure button. You will be fine with that performer in the medium to close-up zoom range, until they move the spotlight somewhere else. Then hit auto exposure and let it float again. I shoot band performances with one or two cams, and it can be quite a dance keeping within a good exposure range when Im moving my handheld in anticipation of the maximum drama to occur the next moment, e.g., one or two hands dashing over fretboard or keyboard, cymbals being bashed, dramatic facial expressions, popping back on the vocalist the instant he/she starts.

      In smaller venues, the lighting may stay fixed, but you will still have to pay attention to this for each cam, perhaps with some in auto, some in manual. Know where these buttons are and be able to use them in the dark without fumbling around (and hitting wrong buttons).

      REGARDS TOM 8)

    • #164407

      Few suggestions:

      – get all the camera people dressed in black;
      – record 2 audio tracks: one from the mixer board and another from in front of the band, so you can do you own mix later;
      – be present at the sound check to adjust you audio; the bands sometimes tend to increase the volume throughout the show, watch that.

    • #164408

      Thanks for the advice guys. As most things go, nothing really worked like we planned. Their audio recorder did not work but fortunatly my friends Panasonic DV camcorder picked up decent enough audio to use. He has a Rode Vidmic but at the time of this performance I had it on my HC1. I didn’t realize I was going to be on stage or else I wouldn’t have put it on my camcorder. Anyway here’s just some footage from my camcorder if anyone is interested. I have yet to edit in the other footage from his DV camcorder.

      Of course the source quality is better than the file I uploaded, but I believe it’s still decent enough. I also noticed I moved from one thing to another maybe too much. Although I was planning on having plenty of cut aways (of which now I blelieve my options are more limited than I previously thought they would be). Anyway here’s a sample. Let me know what I can do to improve, and should I use any filters next time? (One of the lights affects the focus for a bit).

    • #164409


      Good work. Excellent overall exposure. Good camera angle throughout. You were standing in a great spot.

      Auto focus didnt work for you at the very beginning. Better if these glitches occur somewhere in the middle, where they are easier to overlook. Good spot for an insert if youve got one.

      Brief face shots of lead guitar and bass player were very good, but so short. They were minor players in your footage compared to drummer and lead singer.

      You have said that you had jittery camera. I agree. Shot almost like a punk video, although a faithful rendition of a Van Halen song is far from that. (Nice lead guitar from what I could hear.)

      Two or three times you did a quick zoom into the drummer and quick zoomed out again and to somewhere else. I would have held the zoom in for at least a few seconds before dashing off.

      Biggest lost opportunity: The instant that the bass player and lead guitar were dueling face to face belly to belly, six inches apart, you cut away to the drummer AGAIN (ho hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm). This was drama. If you are fortunate to find drama on your camera, stick around for a while. ( Imagine if the camera guy facing Springsteen and Clarence Clemons (sax player/ E St Band did that; feeding the fishes for sure.)

      I think my idea in earlier post, up above, to put a camera on a sturdy low tripod in front of the lead singer is something to consider for future shoots. The audience/dancers moved like they were underwater (seemed tired). The way the lead singer jumped around, might have been risky to put the tripod on stage. However, at least at this performance, in front of stage, on the ground, would have been safe. Looking at the dynamics of the band, in front of the lead guitar man would have been best spot. You did good job of covering the lead singer from your angle.

      Didnt see the other camera; where was it? Hopefully, near the front of the stage or in position to get front shots of the lead guitar player. The action in Van Halen and a band covering their song Panama is the lead guitar and the singer. During the basic (classic) guitar riff there will be hell to pay if there is no footage of the guitar man taking charge of the stage, more than just his backside.

      REGARDS TOM 8)

    • #164410

      Thanks for the compliments and the critique. They are both much appreciated. This is my first time filming their band, and I really haven’t had much experience with anything else.

      I know I made a "professional" mistake of covering the drummer too much. He’s my uncle and he wanted the video as a keepsake. They want to shoot some footage for promotional material as well, but this was a test. I wanted to make sure I got plenty of footage of him. I did need to move around better to get a better look at the lead and bass player. The singer was a large focus because he was in the best shot position.

      Unfortunately the other camcorder was at least 30 feet back. Having directly in front of the stage would have been wonderful, but I didn’t think much about it until after the fact. I also thought it would be better to have a distant shot to cut away too. I now realize that this left us with a lot of standard and basically boring footage compared to some other shots.

      After watching the footage I do agree that I did not keep focused on one thing for long enough periods. I realize that this will make for so round editing if I decide to do to many cut aways or shots from the other camcorder.

      Thanks again, and if anyone else has any suggestions or critiques please post! Also would a filter of some type be a good idea or not?

    • #164411

      I try to approach every shoot, and instruct those working with me to do the same, as though my camera is the ONLY camera which won’t malfunction and my tape will be all there is.

      That’ll slow down the zooms and you won’t mentally rely on cutaway vid. Then, when you have good cutaway, that will just enhance your production.

    • #164412

      I’ve finally gotten around to another edit. This time I used footage from the DV cam. Let me know if you prefer the new video with the lower quality DV footage and HD footage mixed, or if it’s too distracting having the drastic change in quality. The HDV footage from this song isn’t as good as the footage I got from “Panama”.

      The stage was disorientating as I was pulled up there on the spot. Also I kept checking to make sure I wasn’t stepping on anything important, and I kept almost falling off the back of the stage. By the time they played “Panama” I was more familiar with my surroundings, and had adjusted a little better. Anyway loved the criticism last time. Give me some more, no one on the stage6 forms have answered my request for criticism!

    • #164413

      Thanks everyone. I always wondered how they put in alignment all the takes. Do you mean to tell me that you plug in all the cameras at once to import to pc? How?

    • #164414

      A great product for importing and editing is Videotoaster. I personally couldn’t live without it. πŸ™‚

    • #164415

      I produce a show called Louisville Live, which features bands of all genres in the Louisville area. The concerts are shot with 5 cameras: 2 handheld up by the stage, sometimes on stage, sidestage or backstage. 2 of my cameras are tripod cameras with operators, and my MoneyCam, the mighty 20′ jib with a very experienced operator. As Ona Roll pointed out, the more cameras the better. These are my primary cameras. I recruit everybody I can to bring a handy-cam and shoot for fun. This is sometimes added in the edit. This part everybody seems to have covered. The 2 key points I would recommend:

      Audio Chain: dedicate a person to do nothing but capture aseparateset of audio signals. Here’s why: Front-of-House mix (FOH) is usually mixed for the room. In most cases the guitar amps are more than enough to cut through without being in the mix. Therefore, the stereo feed out of the board won’t have guitars. When I started shooting live concerts I noticed most board mixes were vocals and kick drum.

      In my case I use a Mark of the Unicorn 24i digital audio workstation married to a dual G4 mac in a rack. I show up to a gig, lay out my isolated splitter, take my feeds to aseparatemixer (100′ snake to truck) to set levels for the 24-track recorder. Not every show needs 24 tracks. My video of Pat Travers required only 16. Most shows have required 12 or less. If possible, include 2 condenser mics mounted way up high and pointing away from the stage for crowd and ambient sound. Take these tracks to a good engineer and have theengineermix and master the show in full length. I have worked with local and nation engineers and recording studios with no problems.

      Not every show requires splitter, snakes and stuff. MOTU makes a great little 16 channel firewire interface called The Traveller. With this little gizmo you can sit right next to the FOH board, tap a line off each channel into the traveller and into your laptop. Burn the tracks to disc later for your engineer. We run our cameras with the shotgun mics set real low, as most shows are real loud. This audio is used mainly for reference.

      At the beginning of each performance, we have a grip come out with the white board. This tells the crew to start rolling as I want to see the white balance on tape when I go to edit. After the camera ops signal white balance, the clapboard is brought up and held for a few seconds with band name, date and venue. The grip then claps the board and all camera ops know not to stop tape until the performance is over. This ensures all tapes will have a known synch point. The clapboard is also recorded on the audio chain, which guarantees everything will be in synch in the edit suite.

      Adding these 2 key ingredients, separate audio chain and synchpoint will greatly increase your effectiveness andefficiencyin the edit suite later. FCP4.5 and above will let you set up up to 16 cameras (depending on your hardware) and edit like a technical director at a console in a network facility, switiching from camera angel to camera angle on the fly, in real-time. The synchpoints you were so uptight about at the shoot are now easy to find and guarantee a glitch-less 45-minute edit.

      I have to admit, not every show has been perfect. The biggest problem is camera ops underestimating battery strength, so a tape dies during the show, then starts back up 2 minutes later. THAT is a bitch to find and re-synch. We have successfully produced dozens of shows and DVD’s using this technique. For examples of thistechniquein action, please visit

      Devon, I usually wait until I get the audio mix back before I begin the next step of my process,whichis to log the tapes with my in point just before the clapboard and my outpoint at the end and digitize the entire collection of tapes. This runs about 12G of drive space per tape hour. 5 hour-long performance tapes requires about 60 in drive space. If you want to use the editing trick described above, I recommend several really fast drives, or a RAID, if you can float it.

      Sorry to expound so liberally, but this is the type of production I am personally very passionate about.

      TKTurbo, JSPS

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