live perform on stage/what are best camera settings?

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    • #36646
      AvatarMarilyn
      Participant

      HELP!! How do you balance a VERY BRIGHT stage with a fairly dark audience?

      I am videotaping a live performance and the stage is very bright, while of course, the audience is fairly dark. The costumes are white, red, and black mainly. I have an Canon XL1 camera. The spotlight setting produces video that is ok for the audience, but the stage is still too bright. I can fix this in editing by reducing the light and contrast. I put the camera on Av and reduced the amount of light that way, the stage looked great…but the audience was so black, they could not be seen.

      I was thinking that maybe it would work to put on a neutral density filter while I video tape in the spot light setting. Would that work? Does anybody know the answer? I am desperate to find the answer to my problem. How do you balance a VERY BRIGHT stage with a fairly dark audience? Thanks a bunch!!

    • #162902
      AvatarTomScratch
      Participant

      Hi,
      You will absolutely not be able to get decent detail In The Same Shot of a brightly lit (or spot lit) stage and a non lit audience. This is a limitation of videotape (at all levels) and even film. You have to choose, stage or audience: what is going to control exposure? (Even the human eye is challenged by this particular extreme situation; ever heard a performer say from the stage that they couldn’t see the audience?)
      Why would you want audience and performance in the same shot anyway, other than maybe as a brief establishing shot? (This may be one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” things.) Cutaway footage of the audience is another matter; a second cam is reommended for this and this will enable you to get an accepable exposure of the audience in the dark (if you have a cam effective with low light). Otherwise, before, after, and intermission footage might work.
      I have shot over 100 on-stage events, many for fun, a growing number for profit. Many of these have been dance performances; the great major have been bands. Lighting/exposure (of the main event); following the action; and audio are all serious challenges; and I’m still working on all three.
      Re lighting, I zoom in (slowly) to close-up the main performer, often spot lit, and lock that exposure in manually. When I zoom out for a wide stage shot, or to zero in on another performer, I often switch to automatic exposure, until the next zoom in and manual exposure lock. I frequently modify this procedure; you deal with the situation at hand and adapt as needed.
      If you can get to a rehearsal with stage lighting that would be great in order to give you a feel for exposure issues. However, I think it is even more useful so that you get a good idea of the flow of action on the stage. I don’t think I’ve done a show yet (i.e., musical theater style) where my cam wasn’t looking at the wrong part of the stage for a time or two (very briefly of course). Choreographers aren’t practicing their craft to make things easy for videographers.
      You might try to get in and shoot some other shows for practice, to see what it’s like to deal with stage movement and with video-challenging stage light. Not everyone hits a home run their first time at bat!
      Final note. My practice is to keep audience members out of my shots, unless 1) they beg AND they are more interesting than the show; or 2) they are my client. If I were doing a school show, I would “adapt as needed.” Final final note. It is very cool to shoot from on stage; in video, closer is better. If not in person, maybe an unobtrusive cam set at wide angle, sitting on a tripod behind a permanent prop at the side of the stage.
      Good Luck!
      REGARDS … TOM 8) X-D 8)

    • #162903
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      …why would you want to see the audience?

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