Shooting Stage

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    • #36780

      Hi Guys,

      i am new to this Forum and Videography, so have lots of questions, but i will save them for later.

      I will be filming a Bodybuilding Contest in a few weeks time (this will be my first project) and would like some advice of how do this right.

      I have a Canon XL1s and a sturdy tripod. I will be hooking into the Venues PA system in order to get the best audio i can, which will go through the Audio 2 input, and intend to turn the onboard mic toward the crowd to capture a little ambient noise.

      I would like to know if wrapping the mic (a shotgun style) in something like bubble wrap, just leaving the end open, will greatly reduce the ammount of side noise coming into the mic?

      I would also like to know what would be the best setting to have the cam on. The stage will have a Black background and the contestants will appear very light against it. As the contestants can move fast and eratically, i will be filming at quite a wide angle so they dont go out of frame. So as you can imagine the cam will meter for the predominent Black background. So i intend to use the Zebra stripe feature and use the AE dial to under expose so the contestants are exposed correctly. Is this right?

      Also what about focus? The cam has Auto focus system, but i am worried about it changing half way through a shot, but dont know how best to set the cam up if i use manual focus. I dont feel confident enough to use manual. I would like to be able to use a large depth of field and leave the cam focus set at one distance, but as the stage will be so dark the iris (appeture) will probably be fully open leaving shallow depth of field, so what do i do?

      The cam also has a Manual white balance setting which i would also like to use, but am not sure exactly how to do this. As the cam is quite far away from the actual subject, where abouts should i have the White card in order to set the balance? I was thinking that i may need to actually take the cam onto the stage and set the balance actually under the lgihting, but dont know if this is right. I am worried that when the cam is moved away the extranious light coming in from the sides will alter the white balance. Is this right?

      Any other Hints, Tips and Advice will be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks in advance,


    • #163388

      Manual exposure will be a must. Zoom in and lock it. May need subtle adjustments from contestant to contestant. Note that dark skin requires 2 to 3 times the exposure of light skin.
      Plan on manual focus. Depending on where cam is relative to stage (e.g., opposite middle of stage will be easier to focus than down the sidelines), you may be able to set this once and not be making constant adjustments.
      Of course get there early to set up; try to catch a rehearsal. For one contestant at a time you should be able to figure out the stage moves quickly, making it easy to follow the action. Probably you will need wide for multiple contestants.
      Some risk in connecting directly with house sound, unless you can practice and figure out adjustments and connections ahead of time. (Re feedback on this subject from Hank Costello going way back.) You should definitely go manual on this, so as not to overload audio. Going for "a little ambient noise"? At some of these things, audience response can be quite dominant, very noisy and rowdy.
      For a period of years, a guy with the moniker of Romano shot these and other types of sporting events for Portland (Oregon) Cable Access. Don’t know if he is still at it. Couldn’t find on my quick search but did find a web page listing employees and phone numbers for the Portland Cable Access staff. You could probably track Romano down with a few phone calls.
      You might be able to get some ideas from the docu-film Pumping Iron, featuring Arnold after he gave up soccer and before he became governor.
      REGARDS … TOM 8)

    • #163389

      Ey up Tom,

      cheers for the reply, it is greatly appreciated, even if i did not follow it all.

      Manual Exposure – As i said in my origonal post i am Totally new to Videography so am not familier with how to use the camera. I dont want to attempt too much Manual work, as i dont trust that i will get it right, i would prefer to allow the cam to set things and then make subtle changes to them (i.e. with the zebra stripes exposure mode).

      Skin Tone – As the competitors will al be tanned up, they should all have a very similar skin tone, but will all be oiled up which makes the light reflect and can massively over expose them.

      Focus – luckilly the cam will be centre stage, so as long as i can get the Depth of Field set right i am hoping i will just be able to set the focus at the begining and then leave it. Only prob is, i dont know how to get the depth of field right.

      Sound advice – I am not sure what you mean about there being problems connecting directly to the PA system. The cam is able to adjust the Audio input Automatically, so i just thought about letting it do this as it seems to do a great job when i have played with it. As for the crowd noise, as this will be on a seperate chanel, i hope i can correct any problems post production and reduce the volume, having the Pa track as the main Audio.

      Any more advice you can give me will be very much appreciated, assume i know nothing (well it doesn’t take much assumption).



    • #163390

      Start practicing with manual focus, this is going to be you main issue during the shoot. Low light levels and auto focus are a very bad combination!!!!!!
      Get a small shotgun mike for the ambient audio- this will reduce side noise. Wrapping the side of the mic will cause strange audio or cause unwanted scratching noises.
      You may want to run some additional video gain even though you will get a noiser picture. The darker skin tones are going to be very difficult to get a proper exposure if the light levels are too low. Try to simulate the lighting conditions and practice with your camera. If skin oils are used, expect hot spots that will exceed 100 IRE. Use zebra set-up to help you. A good but small color monitor would be a great asset when it comes to doing set-up and monitoring your exposure changes during the shoot. In-camera LCD monitors are nice but difficult to use under poor conditions- especially focusing in low light.

    • #163391

      Ey up mate,

      cheers for the reply.

      Manual Focus – I will give the manual focus a try, although this worries me somewhat, as i am a bit crap when it comes to reactions.

      Mic – I think the mic that comes on the XL1s is a Shotgun Mic, if not, then i am lost and dont know what one is.

      Wrap – As the wrapping on the mic wont be actually moved or touched, will this still cause the scratching you talked about? I just want to cut out as much sound coming from the Pa as pos, as the PA speakers will be behind the mic (infront of the cam). I only really need a few good mins of Ambient Audio from the crowd and then i will just use this at certain times throughout the edit at a low level and could loop it if needs be.

      Low Light – The lighting levels are actaully very high, but they point straight down onto the subject so dont light the backdrop, which is usually Black anyway. The problem with the light is the exposure, as i will need to use a wide shot as the subjects can move quickly and erratically, and they will only fill a small percentage of the frame, thus making the cam expose for the predominent Black backdrop. I hope that i can dial this in with the Zebra Stripes and leave it throughout the shoot.

      Hot Spots – I will assume that i will get these hot spots even if the exposure is set right for the main part?

      Monitor – I have been looking into a monitor, and, like most people am on a very tight budget so want to try and find something Cheap. If anyone knows of any, let me know.

      Depth of Field – How would i go about Mannually setting the Depth of Field? Bearing in mind that the appeture will probably be fully open anyway, unless i increase the gain which i really dont want to do.



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