A couple of weeks ago, I produced a short highlights film of the POP UK concert at Victoria Hall, Bolton. This is the second time I've filmed this annual concert, and I've got a bit of a routine going that gives me full and varied coverage of the show, without needing to hire a second camera op.
So here's my method -
Camera Number 1: My 5D, with three lenses in my bag.
While the show is happening, I move around the venue with camera and tripod and alternate my lenses, being sure to get plenty of panning shots to compensate for the other cameras being static. If you've ever been in Victoria Hall you'll know there is a balcony - and there are a fantastic number of connecting stairs and doors that I could use to get around, from one right beside stage, to two floors up at the very back of the venue (first photo). The three lenses I used were a prime 90mm, a 17-40mm zoom, and a 70-200mm telephoto zoom.
The main disadvantage is that I am prioritising shot variety over coverage, and as such I did miss moments while changing lenses or moving between floors. But that's where the other cameras come in.
Camera Number 2: 550D for backup and wide shot.
You need a few things to make this work:
Camera Number 3: GoPro on stage.
People might not agree with this recommendation, which is fair - the footage from the GoPro is noticeably different to the DSLR footage, and just not as sharp. If you're going for perfection, get another DSLR on stage. However, for this occasion it was just fine - the HERO4 is so tiny that I was able to attach it to a mic stand at the side of stage, and it was barely noticeable in the venue. Furthermore, the client's top priority on this video was to capture the mood, the atmosphere, and energy of the children, and having the camera right on stage did the perfect job, so I ended up using this shot quite a bit. A limiting factor with the GoPro is the battery life - fortunately this concert was just over an hour, and the battery lasted just about an hour and a half, so I was able to have the whole concert from this angle.
And that's it! In the edit I chose the songs I felt came across the best, and was able to find plenty of footage to cover the moments I wanted.
Obviously this method is less than ideal if you're required to provide coverage of a whole show, as you'll have to use a lot of static shots - however, for a highlights montage, it gives you plenty to work with. Here's my finished short video:
Do any other videographers have stories of getting the most out of filming events solo? I'd love to hear your techniques.