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I will in the summer of next year be recording warm up gigs for my friend's rock band this is to allow the band members to evaluate their stage performance.

The band will be backlit and also from above and the side. The equipment I will be using is a Canon mv600i mini dv camcorder with a sony HVL20DM Video light and a sony ECM-MSD1 Microphone, I will once funds allow be upgrading to a Canon DMXM2.

Can anyone please give me some advice on how to get the best results from the equipment I have to hand at the moment i.e. the MV6OOI with the sony light and mic. any help is gratefully received.

Many thanks from a grateful Kevin Deegan in Kidsgrove stoke on trent.
Dave Watterson


Post by Dave Watterson »

Hi Kevin,

I was hoping some of the more experienced movie makers like Brian Hazelden might answer this. I can only tell you what I have heard from others making recordings of stage shows and bands.

Try not to use the onboard light - it will illuminate only part of the stage and look odd. You might get away with it for closer shots of just one musician at a time. Your camera should be good enough to get moody actions shots even in dramatic stage lighting. (BTW - tv concerts often have pretty bright lighting that looks crap in the hall but works well through the camera.)

The onboard mic will be pretty useless for this purpose unless ...

1) You can persuade someone else to record the whole set in a long shot from the back of the crowd which shows the whole stage and all the band. Their mic would pick up what the crowd hears. It will also, unfortunately pick up what people near the mic say ... which may not always be flattering!
2) You can shoot two gigs where the band play the same set. You can then head for the back row one night and do the wide shot and sound from there. The next night get on stage and shoot close-ups.

For the best music quality you could probably get a feed from the mixing desk. Another standby is a mini-disc recorder on the front of the stage recording the whole show.

If the band really want to know what the audience see - the back-row camera will show them. But what bands usually want to see is something more like tv recordings of live gigs.

You could do both - specially if you have decent editing facilities. Put the wide shot in the background all the
time and place close-ups over it now and then. (You should be able to get them pretty much in synch even if recorded on different nights.)

Most guitarists and singers are posers ... let them see themselves for better or worse! Be sure to take some close shots of each band member. Shoot faces when they are concentrating, shoot fingers often for excitement. If you can get shots of two or more of the band interacting that's great (e.g. sharing a mic for a chorus, winking at a mistake and so on.)

Always, always, always get plenty of shots of the crowd enjoying the show. Two or three punters at a time usually works well. Cut those in to cover all the gaps.

Good luck and have fun



Post by Baz »

If the sound really is useless, and you can't get a feed from the mixing desk, nd you can't set up some other recording equipment, then have a go editing the recorded video to any recordings the band may have made.

It's tricky - bands tend to play faster live, so you have to make short cuts (which is pretty much the rock style anyway), and you are forever kicking cuts back and forth until it is all in sync.

It's probably okay for a track or two, but I wouldn't want to do a whole gig!

Three videos I shot and edited this way are here:

Brian Hazelden


Post by Brian Hazelden »

Sorry for the delay in replying, I'm pretty busy with a few music videos.

Shooting a gig with 1 camera is going to be difficult.

If I had to do it I would want to know the songs almost as well as the band so that I was able to plan the shooting of every number. You'll also need to know the running order so you start off in the right place. I would shoot from the wings in a position where I could see all band members for a wide shot and medium close-ups. I'd shoot big and extreme close-ups later (see later). You'll need to know exactly when the vocalist / guitarist / keyboards etc are coming in so that you are shooting them before they start their solo
or whatever.

Sound impossible? Well it is with 1 camera but you can cover the quick zooms and pans with cuts away to the audience (shot at a different concert even) or to big or extreme close-ups of the band (again shot later) miming to the audio. As Dave has suggested this could be a live feed from the mixing desk, if there is one, or from a stereo pair above and in front of the band. The audio can be recorded on mini disk or even on to Hi-Fi VHS. A decent countdown is essential for helping musicians to start miming in the right place.

I don't think your cam, or indeed the XM2, has manual audio level controls so you may need to cut down the sound levels reaching the mic. I'd try a pair of socks first. You won't need the sound from your cam for your final edit, but you will need it to sync up the various takes and clipping on DV ruins the audio. Syncing will be easier if you get the musicians to mime to a whole run through of the number. Again plan to shoot what will fit in with what you missed on the night. Plan to shoot big close-ups where the background can be faked - black, an amp, or extreme close-ups that have no background.

On the night I'd avoid shooting from any distance as the depth of focus field will be soooo shallow. Shooting from the back of the hall also makes everything on stage look flat. Shooting from a central position will mean that, even in a medium shot, you will have to swing the cam from side to side to include the whole stage, wheras shooting from one side will mean you can cover the whole of the stage.

Hope this helps and feel free to ask questions.

Brian Hazelden
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