Video cameras and equipment can be very expensive and it’s just not practical for most people to have more than one. But if you can round up three or more mini DV cams from your family and friends you’ll have the bare essentials and the potential for making a great video. Just make sure that the settings on all of the cameras match. Most importantly, decide if you are going to shoot standard 4:3 or widescreen. Widescreen on most consumer video cameras is not “true” widescreen and basically letterboxes your standard view to create a widescreen effect. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use it, but you should know what your working with. Also you will want all cameras to record audio as you will use that audio to help sync them together in post production. Here are some things that we learned that you might want to consider and share with your camera operators. These will make for a better end result.
Label tapes in advance. If you’re using mini DV tapes, or any tapes for that matter, get extras and label them in advance. Cam 1-1, Cam 2-1, cam 3-1, cam 4-1, cam 1-2, cam 2-2, cam 3-2, cam 4-2, cam 1-3… Each operator should only work with one camera if possible. You don’t want to sift through 10 or 20 tapes later trying to figure out which is which.
Divide and conquer. Assign each camera operator to a specific region or performer to assure that you’ve got enough coverage at all times when choosing your shots later on.
Tripods are your friends. Tripods hold a camera steadier than any human can. As a result their shots have an extra advantage and can look a little more professional. For a live concert, a tripod on either or both sides of the stage will give you a lot to work with when editing.
Zoom slowly. Nothing says low budget more than an unsteady camera zooming in and out at great speeds. This can be difficult to watch on a larger screen and even make you a little queasy. Treat that zoom button with a very light touch. Personally I ask for as little zooming as possible. Also, this goes for both zooming in and zooming out.
Get creative. Experiment with different angles on the hand help cameras. For example, peeking around a drum at the drummer or from the side or back can be really interesting.
My final bit of advice on this and maybe the most important:
Once started, keep all cameras rolling non-stop until the tape runs out or the show ends. You will be so thankful to only have to sync them all one time per tape set in post.
We used four cameras. Two on tripods and two hand held. They were all standard miniDV cameras shooting in standard definition and we shot in widescreen format.