Tips for archiving performance of stage play using Canon T3i?
February 22, 2017 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Last time I taped a play it was using an old-fashioned tape-based camcorder with settings controls that were easily accessed for on-the-fly adjustment. I downloaded a user manual for the T3i, but I haven't done much shooting with DSLRs so I could use some tips.

The theater company is providing the camera plus an external mic and cables.

I stopped shooting people's plays because even though they know it's an archival capture of a live event, they always think it's going to be a cinematic masterpiece. But a friend of mine directed this play, so I got recruited.

I don't know who's providing the camera, so I can't get their opinions on these issues.

Technologically:

The max file size the file system can handle is 4GB. Does this cam automatically start a new file seamlessly? Or does it just stop and have to be restarted?

Should I just keep it on full auto and then just re-focus as necessary? I saw the play once, but I'm not familiar enough with it to try to follow action, get closeups or mess with exposure, but the manual says the video can appear to stall out with rapid, extreme changes in lighting/exposure.

The production has video projections (rear-projection screens). The video designer told me the playback is 24fps non-drop-frame. I'm planning to shoot at 24fps to minimize strobing on the projection screens. It seems obvious, but is that the right choice? Does it even matter?

Aesthetically, I'm tempted to just leave it wide and shoot as much of the stage as I can fit in the frame to minimize camera movement and readjustment. Given that this is meant to be archival, and that I'm not that familiar with the production, does that seem like a reasonable default? Since my experience tells me that no one will ever watch this, and that the "clients" are always disappointed if they do watch, it seems like that's the best option.
posted by under_petticoat_rule to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
 
What are the expectations of the person who has asked you to archive the play? I would go with your reasonable default of shooting wide with no camera movement and make sure the "client" realizes this is what they're getting.
posted by storybored at 7:59 PM on February 22, 2017


I stopped shooting people's plays because even though they know it's an archival capture of a live event, they always think it's going to be a cinematic masterpiece.

Hilarious and true.

DSLR cameras will stop recording once the filesystem max size is reached. Often there is nothing to alert you, it just stops. A digital camcorder is just as good with the wide shot you'll be capturing.

Shoot with AC power not battery and ensure your power connector is in good condition.

Shoot wide for the main stage on a tripod and if possible get an on-camera microphone recording and an external record unit patched into the house feed if they're mic'd on stage.

Like you said, it's going to be watched by the one friend who's mom complains that she couldn't see the facial expressions during the soliloquy...
posted by Khazk at 8:16 PM on February 22, 2017


Should I just keep it on full auto and then just re-focus as necessary?

You want to manual focus and not touch it after.

The max file size the file system can handle is 4GB. Does this cam automatically start a new file seamlessly? Or does it just stop and have to be restarted?

A 4GB file is about 12 minutes of 1080p video, so if my math is right, a 32GB SD card will hold around 90 minutes of video. If the camera has Magic Lantern (or Tragic Lantern) third party firmware, you might be able to extend that time, but I'm not 100% sure.

On a quick search, it looks like the t4i and above will keep going up to 30 minutes. However, the t3i does not have this feature, so you'll have to restart the video every 12 minutes.

If possible, it might not be a bad idea to have a second camera setup, so you can edit out the gaps, assuming you're restarting the recording.
posted by cnc at 10:25 PM on February 22, 2017


To avoid the extra Europe video camera tax or something, Canon DSLRs will stop recording at 29:59 anyway irregardless of settings, so you it's not going to be a continuous recording no matter what you do.

If the data card can't write fast enough it will stop before 4gb also.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:26 AM on February 23, 2017


You need to have two cameras for this. Even if you are using MagicLantern with automatic recording restart you will have gaps of up to four seconds.
posted by gregr at 6:58 AM on February 23, 2017


The other answers are better than mine. I'm just coming in to suggest you bow out of this job in any way you can, since whatever you do they will be disappointed, and even though you're trying your best to learn how to do this, given your inexperience the chances are just too high that something will go wrong.

OR: Video several rehearsals so you're sure you've got it right.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:10 PM on February 28, 2017


« Older reading list for the revolution   |   How does one tell if a hot water heater is... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.