Filming Dance – capturing live performance
A how to guide
Before we delve into this I probably should tell you a little bit about who I am. As you already know my name is Wayne (you are looking at this blog on my website after all) I originally began my career as a contemporary dancer before moving into film and digital technologies (coding, projection mapping et cetera) in 2006. Since then I’ve worked loads in the dance sector with companies, independent artists and making my own multimedia dance installations.
When filming dance the first few things to figure out is are you filming somebody else’s work? or are you filming your work?, is it a recording of a live work? Or is it specifically a dance for the camera?
In this blog I will be specifically talk about filming live work for example a performance on stage. Don’t panic though if you’ve come to this blog for advice on filming dance for camera I promise my next blog will be on that subject. In the meantime crack on reading this as there is a lot of similarities.
If you are filming a live work it’s really important that you get a range of coverage. My advice (if your budget will stretch to this) is to do a multi camera set up. That’s one camera at the back facing the stage locked off on a tripod, this will be a long shot (LS). That will give the film context it will tell the audience where we are, and as it’s locked off it will be our stable cut to camera.
The second and a third film camera want to be along the 180 rule.
If you only have two cameras don’t worry too much about it because the 180 rule is still relevant and let’s be honest its less work you’ve got to do in post.
I would have camera 2 as a mid shot so it still catching all the stage but it’s a little bit closer than the one centre stage at the back. And the third camera I would have close up tracking the movement. This would give an element of excitement to the screen when the audience are watching this bad. It’s almost like your replicating the atmosphere of live.
It’s worth noting that you should wear possible record of the same cameras. Making sure that your ISO and shutter speed are the same. Don’t forget your shutter speed should be double your frame rate which if you’re in the UK he is 25 frames per second in the USA 24 frames per second, meaning your shutter speed will either be 50 frames per second or 48 frames per second.
Okay so all you can do is match or your settings are the same you’ve done a lighting check so you’re not over exposing or under exposing. NoW you need to catch a sound.
How do you catch a good sound in a live environment i.e. a theatre?
By far the best way to do this is to take the line out of the sound desk and patch that straight into your camera. Usually that will be either XL or or Jack. I would always recommend having a decent microphone on board your camera so you can catch ambient audio. It’s always good to mix a clean feed and ambient sound together to reinforce the sense of a live show. The bonus of this (and this has happened to me more than once) is that if the clean line from the sound desk fails for whatever reason you can always use the audio recorded onto your camera.
I usually record the sound from the desk into a specific sound recorder such as his zoom H6N. Zoom is designed for audio and has good preamps where is a lot of cameras don’t have great preamp so you get a very compressed sound. I then mix them together in post which I’ll discuss in a minute.
Okay let’s assume you filmed your live show everything went well you’ve got your clean feed, you’ve got your ambient feed, you’ve got some great visuals, you just now need to mix them all together to create one film.
There are loads of different editing software as you can use, I personally use Davinci Resolve and Adobe premiere pro (although I am trying to move away from Adobe premiere pro because of the massive subscription fee every year).
I’m not going to tell you how to import all of your media etc instead have a look at this tutorial (it spares you listening to me waffle on).
Note. If you recorded your audio separately you’re going to need to sync it with the video clips. You can do this in premiere pro but it’s a little bit cumbersome and it’s a little bit time-consuming and it will drive you insane. However if you don’t have a budget for additional software make yourself a cuppa grab distressful and I’ll put a link to a tutorial of how to do a multicam edit.
I have a program called pluralise by red giant, all you do is drop all your files into it, click sync and boom as if by magic all of your video and audio is synced. You bust export timeline an import into premiere pro or Davinci resolve.
Multi cam edit Premiere Pro https://youtu.be/tj75m4WYHm4
Multi cam edit Davinci resolve https://youtu.be/77PjU4baBk8
Sweet, once you’ve edited your live show all you need to do is export it. Depending on where you want to share it there are lots of export preferences you can use such as YouTube or Vimeo and they just put it in the correct codec for you.
Honestly don’t worry too much if you don’t get it right first time. A lot of this stuff is about doing the more live work you film the better you will be and you’ll find a way that works for you.
If this has helped/inspired you please do let me know. I can be found on all the social medias @waynesables or via the email at email@example.com
Or at my website (if your not reading this blog on it) www.waynesablesproject.co.uk