New camera - record theatre and dance shows and create dvd - help

bob mushroom

Active Member
Have been looking at various options Panasonic, canon and Sony and have managed to confuse myself silly!

I have been asked to film some theatre productions and dance shows in low light and stage lit environments and create a DVD for proud parents to remember their children's performances (pressure)

What should I look for in a camera to give the best quality in these conditions?
Budget Is up to £1500
Want to use easily for family filming also - holidays, events etc
Has to be fairly portable
Fairly straightforward to use

Any support, advice and recommendations will be gratefully accepted
 

bow79

Novice Member
I have no particular model recommendations. Would suggest the biggest optical not digital zoom so you can be a long way away if necessary. And some form of external sound input so you can use better quality microphones or microphones which are not in the same place as the camera. As you say the lower the ability to film in light the better.
 

12harry

Well-known Member
I think the Budget is sufficient, but it depends "what" you are expecting - and on your own skills in Lighting/Sound/Camerawork/Editing (which requires potentially expensive software and a PC).

OP really needs to be more specific about the venue - this is where the difficulty will present itself. Family hols etc in bright light is easy, just pack enough memory+batteries for the duration.....and spend an Age in the EDIT.

For stage, you need to know where the camera is positioned and to give each child a decent few minutes on the screen, they will need to move past the camera.
Sound may be a tricky area - firstly capturing their tiny voices with heavy footsteps (stage resonances), is not easy. Also, the light levels may add to yr difficulty. Any powerful zoom needs more-light. If you are in the audience (or on the balcony) it may be impossible with the average consumer camcorder as they are poor in low-light and the sound will pick-up the audience above the children.
Naturally, you will need a sturdy tripod and spare batteries, etc.

Of course things are easier technically, if you film the rehersals and can move about the stage, adding a few kind words as stage-direction, to improve "sales".

However, for music and the play itself you can run into "Copyright" issues and they usually end-up being expensive . . . . so don't use any Well-known popular plays/characters and avoid the soundtracks from pop-tunes/film/plays/tv shows . . . . if the pupils/teachers write+perform the scripts and music, that's the BEST solution.... and put a Copyright notice in, to prevent it bring pirated onto the internet.

So, let's have more info about the Venue and performance/play - that's where the initial planning effort is needed - forget the camcorder for now . . . is my advice... FWIW.
 
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Bob++

Novice Member
I wouldn't worry about copyright - That's the school's concern.

You would need to ensure that for ALL the children, the school has written approval from the parents. Again they should have taken care of this. If you film at rehearsals a CRB might be required - ask the teachers.

Filming some of the action - especially solos - would be much better done at a rehearsal so you can get up on or near the stage. With that and footage shot at the actual performance (and don't forget the audience) you should be able to splice something together. From personal experience, expectations are not high for the quality.

You must try some shooting in the actual environment to get the white balance etc right - a lot can be done post production but you want the best you can get to begin with.

I suggest you look at the Panasonic SD900. And Magix as an editing suite.
 
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bob mushroom

Active Member
Hi

The Venue is a theatre and Dancehall with spotlights and low light levels with talking parts and Music. I have an external recorder and an external mic to record both the direct feed and the 'from the stage' voices & audience.

The position is likely to be set back slightly higher than stage level directly in the centre. I plan on having the stage as a whole on dance numbers and solo's speaking track the main protagonists.

I will have a 2nd camera set up at an angle to capture a different angle though thios will not be of the same quality.

A great idea about rehearsals and getting back up/close up footage.

Copyright is not an issue nor is the checks.

I have been into Sony & Panasonic today and got some interesting insights.

Sony CX730 was recommended without going to the HX20 Level

Panasonic had the SD900 which I had a play with but then something interesting...

The boy recommended me a DSLR The Lumix G2 - stating low level light and options are superior to the SD900. The only downside is the 29 minute record time though if carefully managed (knowing stage changes/music breaks) and relying on the 2nd camera this could be an option and have a great stills camera also.

anyone offer any thoughts?

Cheers
 

12harry

Well-known Member
It looks to me that you've got this pretty well sewn-up . . . so the camera choice may come down to that time-limit. Certainly DSLRs "probably" have a better capability in low-light, but I really wonder that your stage is low-light - - - don't they have stage-lights? I'd expect this to be quite reasonable on the subject, but the venue "as a whole" will be low-light . . . but you need only be concerned with the stage.

multi-camera shoots are a lot easier if the camera innerds are matched, that way the cutaway shots don't cause the picture to change (brightness/colour, etc.). External recording is good for quality, but potentially a nightmare if attempting lip-sync . . . something for those long winter evenings if you don't already have Editing experience....

EDIT: chrishull3- That Canon is a nice piece of kit, but I think it's only 10x Zoom which might be an issue in this application (obviously not "on-stage"). However it is considerably more expensive. I don't think WA lens is much use (unless you have to...), since the faces will be tiny - my own pancake is only f/2.8 which isn't much use in "low-light" - but I though Pana did some somewhat large-aperture lenses - pricey for sure but to film the whole stage a zoom may be unnecessary and a fixed lens tends to give more light for a given aperture (certainly my Vivitar zoom is darker than a fixed Hoya when set to the same focal length and aperture (1 stop, I'm guessing) - that is quite a boost when light is low.
OP suggested that "quality" wasn't a real issue, so I'm wondering if the V700 wouldn't be better, having better low-light performance from the larger sensor ( than the 700/800/900 3-CMOS combined). At that money OP can buy two - and know they are matched.
Though I suspect it does lack headphone op....DYOR.
 
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bow79

Novice Member
Have you considered 3 cams 1 each side one central. or even 4, 3 filming by themselves. The best one being operated. You than have lots of safety shots and angles. However editing takes forever. Most people do not notice absolute subtle picture quality, there looking at there child! If shot of child not there!
 

chrishull3

Well-known Member
It looks to me that you've got this pretty well sewn-up . . . so the camera choice may come down to that time-limit. Certainly DSLRs "probably" have a better capability in low-light, but I really wonder that your stage is low-light - - - don't they have stage-lights? I'd expect this to be quite reasonable on the subject, but the venue "as a whole" will be low-light . . . but you need only be concerned with the stage.

multi-camera shoots are a lot easier if the camera innerds are matched, that way the cutaway shots don't cause the picture to change (brightness/colour, etc.). External recording is good for quality, but potentially a nightmare if attempting lip-sync . . . something for those long winter evenings if you don't already have Editing experience....

EDIT: chrishull3- That Canon is a nice piece of kit, but I think it's only 10x Zoom which might be an issue in this application (obviously not "on-stage"). However it is considerably more expensive. I don't think WA lens is much use (unless you have to...), since the faces will be tiny - my own pancake is only f/2.8 which isn't much use in "low-light" - but I though Pana did some somewhat large-aperture lenses - pricey for sure but to film the whole stage a zoom may be unnecessary and a fixed lens tends to give more light for a given aperture (certainly my Vivitar zoom is darker than a fixed Hoya when set to the same focal length and aperture (1 stop, I'm guessing) - that is quite a boost when light is low.
OP suggested that "quality" wasn't a real issue, so I'm wondering if the V700 wouldn't be better, having better low-light performance from the larger sensor ( than the 700/800/900 3-CMOS combined). At that money OP can buy two - and know they are matched.
Though I suspect it does lack headphone op....DYOR.
The lens on the Canon cam would have no problems,i dont see where you are coming from,regarding low light performance it is the best low light consumer cam,DSLRs need a fast lens to better it.
 

12harry

Well-known Member
I'm not rubbishing that camera's low-light performance - but OP is likely to need a stronger zoom, so it doesn't meet his requirements, although it will consume his Budget. Yes I know you can get a secondary tele adaptor - but that's hardly meeting x20 which I'm guessing he'll need as a minimum.

Frankly I suspect OP won't get what he wants (new) for that budget - moving-closer will help the visuals and maybe a second camera as well. That Sony CX730 is supposed to be quite good in low-light and has mic-in headphone skts - BUT maybe OP should hire a camcorder and see what's possible with some decent kit, without committing that Budget.

He also maybe needs a crash-course in filming/Editing . . .

FWIW.
 

chrishull3

Well-known Member
I'm not rubbishing that camera's low-light performance - but OP is likely to need a stronger zoom, so it doesn't meet his requirements, although it will consume his Budget. Yes I know you can get a secondary tele adaptor - but that's hardly meeting x20 which I'm guessing he'll need as a minimum.

Frankly I suspect OP won't get what he wants (new) for that budget - moving-closer will help the visuals and maybe a second camera as well. That Sony CX730 is supposed to be quite good in low-light and has mic-in headphone skts - BUT maybe OP should hire a camcorder and see what's possible with some decent kit, without committing that Budget.

He also maybe needs a crash-course in filming/Editing . . .

FWIW.
His budget is £1500,so what cam would you suggest,i dont own one of the canons but i know people who use them for their wedding filming,the lens would be adequate imo but if a long lens is required something like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Hands-on Preview: Digital Photography Review that has a 24x zoom and f2.8 throughout is another option as no consumer cam can match its specs.
 

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