A little more than a year ago I had the honor of recording the Arcata Inter-Faith Gospel Choir’s performance at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts in Eureka, California. It was a spectacular show, replete with a live band, choreographed sequences, and the famous blues singer Earl Thomas opening with several songs. If you’re interested in purchasing the DVD then click here for more information http://www.arcatainterfaithgospelchoir.com/
Here’s a short song from the performance. It’s my favorite one from that evening.
I used five cameras on this show, three static and two moving, to capture the grandeur and energy of the performance. At the time it was the biggest and most complex live performance production that I’d ever managed. It was exciting. In the end I had hundreds of hours of footage to edit from all the cameras. Luckily for me there was no rush in post-production, so I was able to take my time and make sure that everything looked its best.
For me, there’s nothing like recording a live performance: the methodical preparation beforehand, the anticipation of the event day, the intensity of the moment once it’s begun, the unexpected developments, the fast & firm choices necessary to keep the production on track, and the release when it’s all over. It feels a little like shooting a wedding, which is perhaps why I love both of those types of gigs. Every production is different and new in some way. And it’s such a joy to be able to convey the energy and experience of the performance to the viewer who couldn’t attend the live performance.
Tip: When shooting a multi-camera event it’s helpful to employ cameras of the same make & model. Different makes & models of camera produce different “looks” to their image. By using identical cameras for all the angles it ensures precise color rendition in the final cut without excessive color correction in post.
In the business they call it Run & Gun filmmaking. There’s no script. There’s no schedule. There might not even be a Director. There’s just what’s happening and you have to capture it on video / audio to the best of your abilities. It occurs mostly on documentary productions, news reporting, live television, and reality shows. You can’t be sure that you’re in the right place at the right time because there really isn’t a right place or right time. If it looks interesting then you stay on it until something else looks more interesting. You just “catch as catch can” and hope that what you captured pans out in post. Let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun.
I got to do some running & gunning on a little documentary about healthcare providers and healthcare recipients. A New York City film crew came out to our little hamlet to shoot this short doc and hired me as a local gun. It was a lean crew, just four of us total, which allowed us to fit into some tight spaces and get great shots. There were a lot of interview setups in small medical offices which were challenging. Then there were several large gatherings of healthcare providers & recipients where we had to run & gun it. They also needed general around-town shots of our community so we often pulled over to the side of the road and just started shooting stuff. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.
They brought their own gear which included a Sony PMW-F3 camera (so popular right now that stores can’t keep them in stock), some Kino Flo Diva lights, and a Sound Devices Mixer/Sennheiser Boom Mic package. And I got to work with all of it. I love it when that happens.
Tip: a small crew is essential for documentary filmmaking. Bringing a large crew into someone’s house or a working environment is just not feasible. Also, having conspicuous crew members hanging around the production will alter the documentary subjects’ behavior giving the footage a falseness. Having a light crew footprint will allow you to get some great candid footage that will make for an interesting documentary.