Archive for October 2008

A trip to the Pumpkin Patch…

October 12, 2008

Money troubles ‘R’ us lately, so we’ve been looking for things to do with the children that are low-cost, or even better, free.  Today Michelle got an email for a local pumpkin farm having hayrides and pony rides for kids with disabilities, visible or not, wheelchairs to asthma.  Sponsored by a local autism support group and sounded like fun and we grabbed our autistic child and off we went.

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Lessons learned…shooting stage shows, Pt 2

October 5, 2008

Recording audio using a DAT recorder is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. Granted, I’ve got a pretty good microphone on my “A” camera, and I’ve used it mounted on a boom to very good effect, but it still picks up room noise and, like any microphone, if you’re not right on top of the actor the sound gets a little hollow. Getting right up on top of an actor just isn’t possible in a stage show, and in any event, the shotgun mic isn’t that good.

The director told me in advance that the actors would be wearing body mics, and the board had enough “room” on it to plug me straight in. I just had to provide the recorder and the cables.

Okay, I have to admit, I don’t actually have a DAT recorder. I’m too cheap for that, and besides, it’s not necessary anymore! Got a laptop? Got sound recording software? You’re good to go!

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Lessons learned…shooting stage shows, Pt 1

October 2, 2008

Shooting for the high school, for church, for community theatre…it’s a pretty thankless job, even when (or especially when) you’re being paid. Directors are thinking of their stage show, not your video (imagine that) and put recording their production at the very bottom of the priority list.

The solution you see most often is the director will have someone – a relative, perhaps a brother-in-law – who owns a video camera sit in the middle of the theatre with the camera on a tripod, situated in such a way that the camera can take in the whole stage. If the director is lucky, the brother-in-law will zoom in on the action from time to time, pan the camera back and forth.

There are a few drawbacks to this method.

Zooming sucks. It screams “home movie”. In the hands of an enthusiast, it can be nauseating.

Panning sucks. Usually because the brother-in-law bought his tripod from Wal*Mart or Target and only paid $25 for it. Fluid head? What’s that?

Lighting sucks. Theatrical lighting lights the stage and the actors, and that’s typically too “hot” for the video camera to handle.

Sound sucks. With a camera sitting in the middle of the house several rows back from the front, the sound from the actors’ mics (assuming they’re wearing mics) echos all over. The ambient sound is dreadful!

So, what’s a guy to do?

I knew going into the shoot that there would be two run-throughs. I had it all worked out, and this was the plan: two cameras: one handheld and one mounted; a DAT recorder wired straight into the soundboard on one of the AUX SENDs. This setup would buy me a few advantages. I would have at least two angles of every scene. I could use the handheld camera for close-ups and drama shots, while my “B” camera would give me a steady establishing shot for each scene. Recording audio off the board meant no ambient noise.

The sound worked great. The rest…not so much.