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Concert Experience???


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#1 Christopher T. Paul- SOC

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 06:12 PM

Howdy All,

I am facing my first concert as a Steadicam Operator, and wonder if any out there would care to offer any tips. My largest concern is being "on" and making shots for the 80-90 minute performance. I have operated a good number of concerts in the past- but never as a Steadicam Operator.

The first thing I did was contact Peter Abraham in order to get a tally light for the rig, but short of this I am open to any suggestions as to how to get through the event in one piece. It sounds like a massive endurance test.

Thanks in advance!

Chris Paul
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#2 WillArnot

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 06:22 PM

Hey Chris,
It is a huge endurance test! Get some rest & stay hydrated.
Peter's Tally light will be very helpful. Along those lines it is also useful to have a 2nd small monitor giving you the live feed of what the other cameras are shooting. This is usually viewed in the eyepiece of video cams. You can use a small 2" RCA cheapee say mounted to the butt end of your dual rod monitor bracket. Hardwire it directly from the camera for the live feed.
This way you will better be able to stay out of the other camera angles, and be able to integrate your shots better.

I'm assuming its video of some sort. Haven't seen a live concert shoot film in ages.

My 2 cents. Good luck,

Will

PS- spoke to Garrett. Got his version of the Birth shot. will post soon
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#3 Anthony Hardwick

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 07:23 PM

CP,

Good luck with the concert gig! Unfortunately I haven't got any experience operating steadi on a concert gig... only dolly/crane/HH as I'm sure you do too.

Oh yeah... Wear black! :lol:

Anthony
PS - CP & Will, in in town for a brief spell. Have time for a beer?
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#4 PeterAbraham

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 08:00 PM

There are a few things to work on if this is your first serious endurace day in the rig. ( Thanks for the props on the Tally Light, gents ! :) ).

Wil's words are gold. The largest show I've done in terms of time in the rig without docking at all was the Atlanta Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Others who have done Olympics can attest to what a pull this gig is. I wore my rig without docking for 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was either shooting or hustling from one shot to the next.

Having said that, you are in for a treat. Rest up, and train yourself to wear the rig for longer periods of time. Not to say you are shooting a 25 minute take, but you are wearing it almost nonstop. Borrow a second docking bracket and have a dock hidden offstage on both sides, or offstage and down in the pit/audience/theatre aisle. Between songs you may have a chance to drop the sled a bit. If not, use your focus puller or at least hoist it up into "rest position", laying the post onto your shoulder. It takes a ton of strain off the spine ( not the legs, of course..... )

Wear the rig around the house. Shoot some shots, hoist it up, shoot some shots, hoist it up. Build up to where you have the rig on for more than 30-45 minutes and don't even think about it. I'm a pudgy guy, always have been. Knowing Atlanta was coming in August, I got on the bicycle the second I got the gig in...March? April? I biked every single day I could, until I was rocking through 6-8 miles at a go. Not Triathelete stuff but it built up the legs considerably in a way that Steadicam does not. It really did help.

The hydration remark is key. Hide bottles of your favorite repleneshment drink around the stage, so your assistant can hand you sips on the go.

A program monitor that is lightweight, as Wil said, is a must. To be very honest I rarely used one on multi-camera live shows and got my ass fried or twice. Rare, but it did happen. Then I made sure I wore one and life was beautiful. I fly a 6.5" LCD anyway, and so used my backup as a Program Monitor. Not only can you stay clear of other cameras and shots but you are aforded the ability to blend in better in terms of speed and framing. Nothing worse than not knowing how fast the last guy is panning or zooming, when they come to you. YOUR work may be nice, but it doesn't stand alone in these gigs. Blending in to the rest of the shots makes you shine in a big way. People- Production people- remember that stuff.

Wear "Show Blacks". Long sleeved black t shirt and black pants, socks and sneaks. You truly want to blend in. Likely that you will be in somebody's wide shot anyway, no sense standing out. Keep a total spare set with you- if there is a break in the set, nothing will make you happier than changing all your clothing and sucking back a bottle of your favorite drink.

Stages are not terribly safe places for Steadicam Operators. Talent loves to screw with us, there are cables, amps, footpedal sets, guitar racks, etc. If you can during rehearsal ( and I pray you get rehearsals ), walk around and see what areas you are going to selling the most. Rare to be able to move anything, at least you can map out where stuff is that is most likely to A) screw with your shot, or B) impede your nice moves physically. Now and then a stagehand will become a pal by nudging over an amp or somesuch a foot or so. Don't count on it, but ask. Protect yourself as best as you can.

If it is a concert where there is likely to be extreme crowd activity ( read:violence ), make sure Production has someone near you to protect you. I shot the Limp Bizkit video entitled "Nookie". Was sent out into the crowd of 3,000 fans to shoot up at the stage. Nobody went with me but my focus puller. Didn't do my shots or frame of mind much good when some dimwit started punching me. Hard. While rolling film. :huh:

Stretch. Before and after. Post-gig your body will be a teeming cesspool of lactic acid. ( believe it or not, many folks find that quinine reduces lactic acid pains especially in leg muscles, so suck up some tonic water or find quinine pills...works for me . ). Might pay to arrange for a professional massage the day before.

This will likely be a great fun gig, just plan ahead and make sure your gear is nothing to worry over. Map out your best areas to shoot in, and those that are dangerous, and have a blast !! Make sure you let us know how it goes, ok?

Best,

Peter Abraham
New York
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#5 Christopher T. Paul- SOC

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 08:07 PM

Thanks Will,

I've got a Transvideo 4" that I thought I'd use for the live feed so that I knew who was up and when I could monitor other cameras- good idea, thanks.

Hey Anthony...

I forgot how long you were going to be in town, when do you leave? I'm free next week at this point, and will be in LA from 12/12 to 12/21 on a show. I'll look you up there if I miss you here- and I'm going to try to vist Greg at XCS if he'll have me.

CP
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#6 Christopher T. Paul- SOC

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 08:13 PM

Peter-

this all sounds like very good advice- thanks!

See you tomorrow for that light!

CP
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#7 AdamKeith

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 10:43 PM

Have someone you trust watching your back and wrangling cable. I have worked the Good Morning America Concert Series for ABC the last couple of years. The Concerts have always been in the same spot. Bryant Park NYC. I have walked the stairs leading upto the stage 100 times. This year during one concert, while ON THE AIR I missed a step....had a little bounce on the air and kept on shooting. I didn't go down because Peter Abraham had his hand inside the back of my vest and held me up. :)


Regards,
Adam Keith
www.qvideo.tv
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#8 Anthony Hardwick

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 11:02 PM

CP,

I'm here 'til about 12/14 (+/- a day or two), then back to LA. Next week will be tough schedule wise for me, although perhaps one evening? I do have this W/E free.

Once back in LA, I'll be leaving for the Holidays within a couple of days, but we should be able to meet up hopefully. Maybe we can shoot over to Greg's together as I've got some business to do with him too.

I'll give you a ring tomorrow.

AH
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#9 Benjamin Treplin

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 03:23 AM

Hi CP,
what are you using to hear the director (don't know the phrase)?
Regular headset have a good damping but the cord is hindering. Make sure they have a wireless solution for you with a good! headset. I use custom made ear plugs like talents wear for in-ear monitoring. Ah, in-ear monitoring. The wireless stage. There are sometimes tons of sound transmitter and receiver on stage and for each a backup channel/unit. Let the production know what frequencies you need to use for remote focus. A remote focus or the own wireless sound link is easily blamed by the stage manager.
Best
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#10 Jeff Muhlstock SOC

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 11:19 AM

This is an area I have some experience in. Peter and Will's notes are all great, follow them and you will make it. The only few things I would add are: Make friends with the tour stage manager, and guitar techs, and sound mixers. It is imperative that you respect there stage and they always have the right of way. Stay out of there line of sight, and never pause between a side fill and talent. Additionally, It makes very good sense to discuss your breaks with the Director. Simply, you must take breaks, dont try to be hero and stay in the suit the entire show. Pick your breaks wisely, change batts, drink water, chill for a moment. Pace yourself, like a race. Have a plan !, Dont just freelance, have very specific shots in mind and find the right time for them. Again, work with the Director on this. Determine if this will be an "ISO" recorded show. Most probably it will. If this is the case, remember to finish your shots, even after the tally goes out. They will love you in post. This is a very important tip...

Best of luck, and have fun with it.
Jeff
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#11 Matt Burton

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 04:46 PM

Hey people

I'm shooting my first steadicam music concert soon, and all this advice is realy usefull.
Because i'm shooting on a dsr570 i'm gona hire a flyer for the gig (anybody got 1 they wana hire me cheap ?). Also i will be filming pretty long sets but as camB so i will get plenty of cut time i hope. The best thing is i'm the director and the artist is my brother, not every day that happens ehy.
Anybody got some more advice for my situation ?

good luck ;)
matt.
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#12 Bryan Trieb SOC

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 06:59 PM

Some super-solid advice ...nice !
Jeff's point about breaks....I totally agree. I've done many shows that can be 2-3hrs and having an efficient routine for your commercial breaks really helps your pace. A dry towel on your cart/stand can be golden.
Something to keep in mind as well....stop drinking water at least an hour before the show....then "pee" as many times as u can before fully suiting up....then slowly drink the water back during the show. Nothing worse than a full bladder half way into a big live show!!!!
Also, think about your footwear. I find that these big show stages are obstacle courses with many edges/stairs, audio monitors...etc. Make sure your footwear is condusive to this environment. I find skater shoes to be the best...I can grip edges easily with them.
As for your "program return"...if you have a J-7 zoom you might be able to rig the camera roll switch on the J-7 to be able to show "program return". Not all cameras can facilitate this....but I find it better than flying a second monitor...the less weight the better for a long stretch.
Maybe have a chat with the other camera ops after the rehearsal...it's not easy to stay out of everyone's shots but even though YOU'RE the one with the most demanding operating task on the day....you still have to play nice with the other ops...a little camera pow-wow usually helps to smooth out the little things for the line cut. Oh, and if you think it might help....walk some of your shots without the rig during downtime (if there is any)...I find this helps me put some footwork in memory and helps to avoid items on stage (or the floor/pit) that Peter mentioned in his post.

Matt....Have a Blast!
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#13 Matt Burton

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 07:42 PM

.  I find skater shoes to be the best...I can grip edges easily with them.
Matt....Have a Blast!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi bryan,
Interesting point you make about skater shoes, I'm a long time skater and pretty much only own sk8 shoes.
The gig i'm doing is going to be held in a big old cinema, i can just picture the shots coming down inbetween the crowd. Perhaps i can pull off a shot from outside, right into the action itself.

Will post some footage after the event. Dec11th.

cheers
matt.
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#14 TJ Williams

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Posted 02 December 2004 - 02:20 PM

Probably You've already thought about this. but it is not mentioned anywhere I saw on this thread. Is this Triax??? Be sure to have a light weight link of RG59U or uquiv between the camera and over your shoulder. This will not effect the signal and will allow you to move without resistance from the heavy rigid triax wire.

maybe this is microwave which is I think much nicer, with the right headset you could be totally wireless!!!! except of course for the small amount of frying of your brain by the microwave..... but hey is it worth it to be wireless or what!!!
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#15 Christopher T. Paul- SOC

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 09:36 PM

Thanks to all who posted with the good advice- in my opinon this forum at it's best. Thanks also to Peter Abraham for the quick turnaround on the tally light, and to Alec Jarnigan for his tri-ax adapter.

Hey Jeff Muhlstock- I took over for you on "Prime" as B-op and Steadicam, an interesting gig- I bet we both have some stories from that one. The last day I Operated the A-cam because Ted had to get back to LA.


Thanks again to everyone for their kind words.

Chris Paul
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