Shooting Andrea Corr Live

Andrea Corr: 'State of Independence' live at Union Chapel Andrea Corr, lead singer of The Corrs has just released a new Solo Album 'Lifelines' and James from Hangman Studios was approached to direct the live show. The challenge was that he was given 24hrs notice and a very tight budget.

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These situations are not uncommon and our Philosophy is always to attempt to find a way to make it work. Ideally we'd have used the Sony FS100 but the timing of the gig meant we physically could not assemble that many cameras in such a short time. The budget only allowed for 4 paid operators but to shoot a gig you want a minimum of 7 camera positions, especially because Andrea had a six piece band.

The Gear we had available was:

2 x Sony PMW EX-3 c/w std lens 1 x Sony PMW F3 c/w Sony 35mm Prime 2 x Canon EOS 550D/Rebel T2i 1 x Canon 60D 1 x Canon EOS 7d

Lenses for Canons were: 2 x 70-200mm f2.8 IS 1 x Canon 70-300mm f3.5-f5.6 1 x Canon 24-105mm



So in many ways a far from ideal gear list, but that's what we had and so the next series of decisions was where to put what camera and on what lens.

So how do you go about choosing camera positions and figuring out which camera positions can be locked off and yet still give you the coverage required?

James and I met at the venue at 3pm and walked around the venue to establish how we could get the maximum from the event with the limited gear we had.

You do this by walking around the venue with camera in hand (in this case I had my 7d with 70-200 and James his 60D with 70-300mm lens). It's pretty straight forward and involves walking around the entire venue looking for viable camera positions so that you can safely leave a camera running unattended for a 90 minute gig. It's a very collaborative process between director and DP. James, the Director, would also be editing and so generally he would have final say in a camera position, however my job is to help him get the very best angles out of a venue and look at things like ambient lighting and making the artist look the best we can.

Matching cameras in this situation poses a real challenge. The simple fact is that the F3 looked amazingly sharp and rich, the EX-3's matched fairly well but have smaller sensors so can look a bit 'video' if you aren't careful with which gamma and picture style settings you use. In my experience matching Sony camcorders is a relatively easy's then trying to match DSLR's to these that causes problems. The important thing is to keep all your DSLRS as closely matched as possible which in this case meant setting them all up the same.

For the DSLR's, we chose to shoot using the Technicolor Cine Style. You do have to be careful with this, as we discovered. This setting adds noise to the image and we were shooting in very high contrast stage lighting with no special additional lighting for the 'filming element' so we decided that the extra latitude would be the best option.

Here's the rig I was using: Miller Carbon Fibre Solo legs with Compass 20 head.

N.B. Don't event attempt to shoot long lens critical focus shots unless you can get access to a good quality fluid head. A good solid tripod and fluid head will make your life a great deal easier. 90 minutes of close up is a tough gig if you have the wrong tools.

This was also the first real outing for my Zacuto EVF. It was terrific. I turned the peaking right up so the image in the EVF was ultra sharpened and meant I could hold accurate focus throughout the entire gig.

Finally you need a good support rods system to give your camera a good foundation between the tripod head and base of camera, especially when adding follow focus and a long lens. I was using the GMB Hotplate from Genus.

I was also using their Bravo Plus follow focus and Flexigear on the lens. In addition to this I was using their height adjustable lens support which helps to make the entire 70-200mmm lens stable when pulling focus. It's a heavy piece of glass and when you support it properly then you find operation much easier. More importantly, you're not having to fight against the lens moving as you shoot. For me it's always about solid stability. That way you can concentrate only on framing and composing your shot.

Here are the different camera positions we settled on and the shots from each.

If you'd like to learn in more depth how to shoot music then check out the Music Video Masterclass 2011 that James and I are hosting in London in October