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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 http://youtube.com/tkturbox
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.