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We are about to shoot a live concert event for the first time. Where would you suggest placing the cameras?
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Where to place your cameras

The venue shape (and sometimes security) will control where you can setup. Some venues have 50ft vaulted ceilings and balcony seating, while others are a flat room with 12 foot ceilings and a stage at one end. No matter the shape of the venue, there is one principal that if you follow, will give your video a more-balanced look when cutting between angles.

Coverage from equal but opposite angles: Cross-coverage

Cross-coverage is being able to cover one part of the stage with two cameras that are the same distance from the stage, but on opposite sides of the venue. This is so different angles won’t look out of place when cut together. It also gives you the chance to film something like a guitar solo from varying angles and closeness. While one person is in for a close-up of the guitarist’s fingers on the neck of the guitar, another could be filming his facial reaction as he is shredding away.

For your primary coverage, you want to have cameras both close and far from the stage. A great rule for establishing good cross-coverage is to split the venue down the middle of the stage all the way to the back wall. If you put a camera on each side of this middle line at varying distances from the stage, you will often end up with a good starting point for primary coverage.

Closer cameras will focus on close-ups on their side of the stage. Sometimes these cameras should be hand-held instead of on a tripod, to allow greater flexibility in the angles they can get. Both cameras should also shoot band members in the middle of the stage, which is often where the singer and drummer are set up.

If going hand-held, try not to shoot at full zoom, like to the opposite side of the stage. Not because the shot won’t look good, but because being hand-held and zoomed in a lot makes the image more prone to an unsteady hand resulting in shaky footage. An unsteady shot can often make your footage look amateur and out of place compared to footage from the cameras on tripods.

Try to find spots with little chance of obstructing your view. This means above the heads of the audience for the back angles, or in front of them against the stage for closer angles.

Safety coverage

After your primary coverage, you need “safety” coverage. The safety angle has two main purposes: to show a majority of the stage in the shot and to have a usable shot 100% of the time. This means keeping the camera wide and not zooming in and out very often, if at all. The camera can often stay fully stationary on a tripod for the entire show as long as a crew member stands with it to make sure nothing drastic happens.

Look for a spot that is elevated and as close to the middle of the stage as possible. You might team-up with your crew member running audience mics and setup near them, as you both need a central location.

Example coverage

Below are images that show how a basic 5-camera shoot might be setup when following the above suggestions. This setup gives us cross-coverage for both the close-up and wider angles and a safety angle dead-center.

Two cameras for close-ups  

Two cameras for wider shots

One cameras for “safety” 


Last update: 09:28 PM Saturday, June 13, 2009


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