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Multi-Camera Recording

What are the advantages of two or more cameras when one will clearly do?


This is a question we get asked a lot. And the simple answer is “there’s safety in numbers”. What I mean by this is that if your doing a live video or recording something you can’t really stop and start again, by having two cameras your reducing the risk of not recording something. If you only have one camera and nobody to watch it then what happens if you forgot to format the card and run out of space, what happens if the camera battery dies half way through, what if someone knocks the camera and its off shot so just recording a wall or the floor. All these things are relevant as they do happen on a regular basis when filming.

Since setting up Hartshead Productions I very rarely one camera I always have at least two cameras running at the same time to ensure I have a backup in case the worst happens, reducing the risk is far better than risking it alone.

Why different angles?

This is an interesting question as people often wonder why I have cameras in different locations recording the same thing at the same time. The truth is that not only does it reduce the risk of not recording anything but also gives much greater ease when editing if there is a blip or error that needs removing from the video. It’s almost impossible to remove a sentence or word on a video without noticing the jump as its almost impossible to record a person and have them in the exact same position at all times, we are human, we move, its kind of our thing.

When I say it’s easier to edit by cutting the video to another angle you can disguise the fact that the person is not in the same position and it looks to the naked eye like thy have never said the omitted words or sentences.

Another advantage is that with more than one camera you have more than one source for sound and also a backup in case the sound is muffled on one of your cameras, again safety in numbers!

How is best to setup three cameras to record a subject?

For each and every situation you need to evaluate the room or surroundings and look for the following things:

  1. Light sources

  2. Background imagery and objects

  3. Shadows

Place your subject in the best position and then setup your cameras.

  1. This camera is referred to as the safe shot, this means this shot will not move and will be fixed on the subject with lot of space on either side to ensure any movement stays in shot.

  2. This cameras can be your moving shot normally placed near or beside the safe shot and uses as a close up camera to follow movement and capture expressions and the finer details of the subject matter. In many cases this is all you really need for this type of filming however you can add another camera if you choose.

  3. This camera can be a “fancy shot”. If I add a third cameras normally it would be placed at a totally different angle to the other two shots and used as a cut away shot to disguise errors and cuts and also for artistic value. Often this camera would be set at a lower level and to one side of the subject.

What things do I need to look out for when using more than one camera?

The main thing to think about is looking at your shots and ensuring they look the same colour and white balance. If your using two different makes of camera then this can be difficult as every camera has different white balance settings. This can be fixed in the edit but this takes more time and can cost more money, if you paying someone to edit it, also by changing these things in the edit, slower pc’s can struggle to render the image and end up playing back the video in a stuttered manner, so getting this right onsite is the best solution.

How do you setup a stage with three or more cameras?

If your filming a stage by yourself or if indeed you’re on stage and have cameras pre-set, then the best way to set them up is as follows:

  1. This camera will be your safe shot and will cover the whole stage so this may be the furthest away front the stage and normally setup as central as possible. (remember people move about – can someone stand in front of this camera, if yes then try to set this camera higher than head level if possible.

  2. This camera would be the one closest to the stage normally setup to cover the specific area your looking to move about in, if you don’t have any other audio source this would also be the one that you would probably use sound from. Again, this would be sufficient to record a good presentation or even a small play but adding more cameras would be better.

  3. This camera would be a reaction shot camera, normally setup in such a way that you can see the audience in shot and therefore see any reactions they would have to your presentation or performance.

  4. This is a creative shot which uses sparingly in the edit will add a different perspective to the video and can often capture some really interesting footage.

How do I edit something with more than one camera?

The great thing about technology these days is that you can get computers to do a lot of the work yourself.

Lining up cameras used to be time consuming and often difficult to so however no in Premier Pro you have the option to do this automatically.

A top tip to ensure the AI can pickup the sound on all cameras is to clap once after setting all the cameras running, the AI will pick this up as a sound spike and realize that its on each camera and use this as the point to line them up. Also if the auto fails then you can line them yourself using this spike in the audio track, this is one of the reasons the clapper board is still widely used in film making.

Once you have all your cameras lined up is simply a case of playing it back and cutting between each camera track depending on what you want it to show. Its a lot more interesting to have several angles to use for a presentation as a changing image will keep your brain switched on where as a single picture will eventually lead to lapse in concentration due to the repetitive nature of the thing your watching.

Also a single image will eventually lead to the heavy eye effect where your eyes become heavy and hard to keep open, this is caused by the lack of stimulus and the fact that the image is a constant distance from your eye and not changing.

The future of video recording!

In today's world of technology its so easy to get a camera, we have them on our phones and action cameras are so cheap now many with excellent quality both in sound and vision its becoming a much easier thing to film something now than ever before.

I envisage that in the next 5 years more and more people will be filming their own videos, which is why we have setup an editing service so if you do decide to record your own things you can still have the support needed to edit the video down and look as professional as ti would should you have got it filmed by a professional company.

Top tips for filming anything yourself:

  • Wiggle room – this is my term for extra space allow the subject to move around so they are not leaving the shot as this can be tightened up in the editing process.

  • Lighting – always ensure there is a light source sufficient to light your subject, if adding light then ensure you don’t over saturate the subject causing the white or shiny face effect as this cant be fixed in the edit.

  • Shadows – ensure that any light isn’t casting shadows across the subject matter as this can look unsightly and often be very distracting to the watcher.

  • Background – be aware of what’s behind the subject and in shot (see our how to frame your shots video for more info on this)

  • Colour – if your subject has a black top on its probably not wise to film them against a black wall.

  • Safety – this is the most important, don’t place cameras in harm’s way, always check that where you have placed the camera is not going to effect in anyway other people. Placing a camera in the isle or walkway and leaving it will lead to an accident, if your running cables ensure that they are taped down securely and not able to trip someone up, where there’s blame there’s a claim!

If you want more information on how to film your own videos to make them look professional please drop us an email, we can also provide a short tutorial via web chat or in person if you feel you would like to know more.

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