Shooting a Live Theater Performance

H. Wolfgang Porter's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Not long ago a member was looking for info on how to shoot a live theatrical performance. He got some really good advice, but sometimes it's just better to 'see' how something should look than to just read about it.

Here's a video by Ian Lucero discussing how he shot a live dance performance. He gives some good tips on what to do to round out your shot list so you'll have plenty to work with during post.

Shooting Live Theater (music, dance, etc.) from Ian Lucero on Vimeo.

geraldprost's picture
Last seen: 4 years 4 months ago
Joined: 11/13/2009 - 6:22pm

The videographer has nailed the exposure and composition. You normally can't control it as well as it is controlled here. I shoot a lot of live theatre. I think this is excellent but most of my clients require more close ups. Gerry in Calgary

H. Wolfgang Porter's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator


You get around the 'lack of control' by shooting as many dress rehearsals as you can. You also use dress rehearsals to get those close-ups your clients desire because camera set-ups are infinitely easier without the audience present. If you notice, in Ian's piece there are slight variations in exposure between the main shot and the different cut shots. Since live performances aren't exactly the same each time there will be differences in performance, where the light hits the talent and a host of other stuff. So it'll never be perfect, but you can narrow down those variables considerably by shooting the dress rehearsals. It's more work, but it justifies itself when it comes time to get busy in the editing bay.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc.

yourvideographer's picture
Last seen: 8 years 2 months ago
Joined: 04/13/2009 - 11:59pm

My question is on the copyrighted material, how would you legally sell the performances of the dancers with the copyrighted music to parents at dance competitions?

Adam Finelli's picture
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 08/21/2013 - 8:47am

I'm preparing to shoot a live performance tonight. Mr. Lucero's commentary was helpful because I could connect his advice to the results of a finished product. I would be interested in hearing more about how I as a camera man can get the right sound if access to the mix board at a theater is not possible. Where would you recommend I find advice about placing microphones around the theater to capture dialougue clearly?