Five cameras for less than two minutes

We take it for granted when watching live events just how much work goes into making every shot look effortless and seamless.  A sporting event, wedding or awards show has multiple cameras running simultaneously to capture everything and allow the video edits to run together properly.

It’s completely different from producing a non-live event, where you can go back and re-shoot scenes or interviews.  In most situations, the pressure is off to get everything right on the first try.

So when the time came to tackle pre-production and show execution for Electric Avenue’s performance at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, the challenge was significant.

Smith’s is a well-known venue near Piedmont Park in the heart of the city, a bar/club atmosphere with people in the crowd separated from the performers by no more than a few feet.  Placing cameras anywhere in the room carries with it a significant risk of those cameras being knocked sideways or face-down, meaning that video for the show is lost and can’t be recovered.

To capture this performance, we decided to place a camera on a tripod, elevated in the back of the room.  On stage, three GoPro cameras.  One behind the drums, one at the keyboards, and one on the floor, stage left, looking up at the performers.

In the audience, I had my primary hand-held camera, able to zoom in on performers during different parts of the two hour show.  When all was said and done, the band deemed that only one song’s performance was suitable for a final cut, meaning we had five cameras in place (recording nearly 10 hours of combined video) to produce less than two minutes of content.

The production was in fact complicated by the tight quarters of the venue: as the curtain opened before the show began, it knocked the stage floor camera on its side, something that was not detected until more than one hour of the show had passed.  That meant we were down to four camera angles with which to edit.  It still wound up being enough, as the band was thrilled with the final cut and was able to use it on social media to promote future shows.

But that’s why it’s a good idea to have more cameras in place if at all possible, especially for live events.  It’s a good bet something will go wrong with some camera at some point during the event.  If you have multiple cameras in place, much like a passenger jet has multiple engines, you’re protected if one goes down.

Five cameras for less than two minutes of content.  Sometimes, that’s what it takes.

Watch the final edit of Electric Avenue’s rendition of George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” here.

To learn more about Electric Avenue, and where to see them live or book them for a performance, visit their website here.