equipment help--filming live performance

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by darthjam, May 1, 2009.

  1. darthjam

    darthjam Guest

    hello all,
    normally i comb literally every crack of a forum for the information i need, but tonight...unfortunately i have to ask without doing much of my own researching...

    im helping out some friends film a live music performance in a venue tomorrow night--more documentary style--but tonight we just found out they want us to get as clean audio as possible.

    with no budget, and no manpower, and nobody in our small group too experienced in audio recording or having any equipment for it, im reaching out in the dark, hoping to get some suggestions.

    equipment we have:
    1 shotgun mic
    macbook pro -- loaded with Final Cut Studio 2 ---no pro audio software or hardware.
    1 hvx200 camera
    1 dvx100 camera

    i believe they will have a soundboard there--is there a way i could just patch my mbp and possibly record with whatever programs on there? (garageband, sountrack pro, quicktime, etc)
    and if so, what kind of quality should i expect from it?

    could i record multiple channels?

    any other equipment needed? absolutely needed?
    possibly cheap/affordable suggestions?

    also, this performance will be 500 miles away from our home, so we hope to round up whatever we need by tomorrow morning, before we head off.

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I have shot, edited & author to DVD many shows like this. Your camcorders will all run wild as there is no time code used nor needed. What you do need is a feed of some sort from the PA Board. At a minimum, a stereo feed is generally the norm. If you have an Alesis HD 24, you can record 24 tracks at 48kHz sampling, 24-bit. Makes it down & stripe it into your video/audio editing software timeline.

    Starting & stopping your camcorders between songs is not recommended. You start the camcorders and you keep them running until you run out of tape. Same for the recording off of the PA Board. I've used my laptop to record 2 to 4 channels that way numerous times. If you're lucky, some of your camcorder audio may not be 100% horrible? If you have some decent camcorder audio, feel free to mix a little in with the PA recording. A little will go a long way. But if your camcorder audio is all distorted & overloaded, you'll only use it for synchronization purposes and then mute it.

    This becomes almost like working with multitrack audio except that it is multitrack audio with multitrack video and then is way more time-consuming than mixing any rock-and-roll. In the past, I used a Adobe Premiere, which is really pretty limited with audio. In recent years, I've gone over to Sony Vegas. It's fabulous. These days it's a complete package of softwares designed to do exactly what you need.

    Vegas 7 user
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. FlyBass

    FlyBass Active Member

    Oct 31, 2007
    Central Indiana, USA
    You should be able to use your MacBook Pro audio inputs to get 2 tracks of audio from the soundboard wit the right cables, however I've always used an audio interface. GarageBand should give you great results, but make sure you know how to work the software. It's possible to record multiple tracks with Soundtrack Pro, but I've never used it for that, so I can't offer you any advice on using it in a live recording situation, only post production.

    Follow Remy's advice: keep those camcorders rolling as long as possible and make sure you overlap any tape change; keep the audio running as long as you can -- be sure to have enough room on your hard drive, or ideally, have an external hard drive with lots of room on it.

    Good luck.
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    If I had one word of advice - redundancy. Live video can be full of surprises and glitches. Having an alternative source to cut to when you're doing the post-production editing can really save your bacon.

    Without knowing more about the venue or the type of band performance you're recording I can only offer generalizations. I don't know if you're trying to record the whole show, or just highlights.

    But, if I had two cameras I might put one camera within a cable's length of the Front Of House sound mixer, taking an audio feed from him and roll the tape in that camera continuously from start to finish - at least that guarantees you will have one failsafe, in-sync recording of both audio and useable video. You can use this as your base track in FCP. I would use that camera on a tripod as a fairly conservative wide shot. Then I would let the other camera roam around more and go for the close-ups or more visually interesting shots for B-roll. *I would leave the tape rolling in this camera too. Don't be afraid to tell the band, you'll need 30-seconds to change tape at the 60-minute mark.

    Your Panasonic cameras can take line-in audio levels, most FOH mixer boards can give you that in one way or another. You may need splitters, direct boxes, and/or Y-cables - but it can almost always be done. Often times sound boards have unbalanced 1/4" Main outputs that aren't being used or RCA unbalanced "Record Out" jacks which you can tap into. You'll have to monitor the audio levels via the meters and I'd recommend taking headphones too. I think with your camera you can have up to 4 channels of audio (2 of which are the on-board mic) - so if you can add a stereo (or even mono) feed from the FOH sound board and mix them later in FCP you should be good.

    I think the shotgun mic will be too directional for the job you're describing. And if it were me, I'd leave the macbook out of the equation until it's time to edit. It would just be one more thing you'll wish you didn't have to sync up manually. Many people think digital recordings are all perfect, but even digital recordings will drift out of sync over time - especially digital on recycled tape.

    General Tips:

    Arrive early. Video tape the sound-check to make sure everything's OK on your end.
    Ask the lighting guy or gal to go to performance settings while someone stands on stage to get a good color and white balance under show conditions.
    If recording to DV or miniDV tape use fresh new tapes.
    Start the tape rolling 2 minutes before the show starts (most DV tape errors and dropouts are in the first 2 or last 2 minutes of a tape)
    Unless you're going for the Blair Witch kinda look - tripods whenever possible and take it easy on the speed while zooming in and out.
    With the roving camera hold that cool shot 5 seconds longer than you think you need to, even after it is no longer visually interesting you may need a second or two front and back to dovetail the transitions together smoothly. Especially if the editing is going to be driven by the music - I would want that extra few seconds of footage to make it to the next beat.

    I did a 3 camera live 2-hour performance shoot earlier this week and mixed the audio and video on-the-fly. It's MUCH more efficient than recording the 2-hour show, going home and capturing 6-hours of tape and trying to A/B/C edit in FCP. I use a 4 channel video mixer, and separate 8-channel audio mixer recording to a standalone Panasonic digital video recorder and a Sony digital recorder just as a back-up. *They have to be fed from the mixer independently - or it isn't true redundancy. There's no SMPTE code, no genlock - just one linear recording of mixed video and clean audio. At the end of the performance I have a pretty good rough master - which I can take to the lobby for playback while the patrons are filing out. (very good for business) In addition to those two mixed rough master versions, I have tape rolling the whole time in all 3 cameras as a back up source which gives me 6-hours of footage to use should I need to 'cut around' a bad shot. Ultimately, I take the 2-hr rough master home and capture it into FCP and clean up the transitions between songs there and look for shots I wish I would have differently in hindsight. I do the best I can with the video live, but have no worries because I know I'll have 3 alternates on tape I could lay in if needed. During the performance I pay closer attention to the audio mix as we're recording, because I have much less leeway if there's a glitch. It's a lot easier to fool the eyes with a shot that doesn't belong than to fool the ears with audio that's out of place. If I didn't have confidence in the FOH mix I'd want to be completely self-sufficient.

    I took my audio feed from the FOH board [via an unused, unbalanced out -> direct box w/ ground lift -> into my small Yamaha mixer] and put up a couple of my own room mics and mixed them in live. The event I recorded was more of a variety show and you can't count on the FOH mixer to leave mics hot to capture the applause. The stage hands are scrambling moving things back stage, curtains are being opened and closed - and the FOH tech is rightly muting everything during the very quick changeovers. He doesn't need to amplify the applause, but I need to make sure I capture it. Having good mics of my own in the room guarantees I can capture the sound in the room to some degree regardless of what the FOH feed sends me.

    In years past when I've recorded this event I would take splitters and multi-tracked the audio and also done the mix live to video. The mixing-on-the-fly audio on the video recorder was always good enough I didn't need to bother with the multi-track audio - so I've streamlined the set-up, tear-down, and post production considerably by leaving the multi-track stuff at home.
  5. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    Aug 16, 2006
    LA, CA
    No Budget.
    No Equipment.
    No Manpower
    No experience

    No Work!

    Did this come from CraigsList?
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
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