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06-04-2021, 08:11 AM   #1
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Help - Video For Dance Recital

At the last minute I have been asked to record a dance recital tomorrow (Saturday June 5), as the studio was unable to book a professional videographer. This is no my area of expertise, so I am asking for some quick suggestions. In terms of cameras, I have a K-70, K-S2, K-3 or K-5 available, and usually use a DA* 50-135 for stills at the recital. If there are better lenses for video please provide some recommendations and I will see what I have. I also have a Zoom H1 that could be used for audio recording.

I plan to use a tripod but unfortunately do not have a smooth fluid head for this (only a standard ball mount). I was wondering about setting up two cameras, one fixed to catch the whole stage and one to zoom in on the action. I don't know if I will necessarily be able to generate a final HD output (I only have a DVD burner) but also want to record the best quality I can. I don't have any large SD cards (64 GB max), so that may limit how much I can record. However, I should be able to stop the recording between numbers, so that will keep the individual file sizes smaller. I'm also concerned that some of the cameras may not be able to run for long enough without getting too hot (I experienced this previously with a K-7).

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the recital is being staged in a park pavilion (during the day) with the audience seated outside. There will be stage lighting but I will likely be outside shooting into the pavilion. Any advise or tips would be greatly appreciated. Also any suggestions for budget friendly software to process the results would be most welcome.

06-04-2021, 08:25 AM - 1 Like   #2
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The two camera setup is good, as is a separate audio recording. Hopefully you have software to edit. If at all possible keep the cameras shaded to reduce heat buildup. Better yet to have a video camera, but then it will cost you. This is really an unreasonable request that they have sprung on you, so they should not be too critical of the results, but we know how that works.
06-04-2021, 10:03 AM   #3
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Oh boy, not an easy gig.
In a similar situation I used two cameras as you suggest. One cover the whole stage, this is the minimum which will show all the performers. Anything more is a "nice to have" in this situation.
So I would use the K70 for this, probably the best video of what you have available, and a lens which allows you to record the whole stage. This might be your 50-135 but depending on the position you may have a prime that is more suitable.
I would spend time making sure this is as good as it can be and in a place where it can't be knocked or shaken.
Not sure if the K-S2 or the K-3 is better for your detail camera but a zoom lens will give you more flexibility although my experience is that the Pentax video software isn't good at handling too much zoom action while shooting.
I have used a Zoom H1 for audio to link with my video and it is very capable.
I have always used Sony software and there is a 30 day free trial at Video editor free download
06-04-2021, 10:24 AM - 1 Like   #4
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How long is the recital? I have been to some that go on a long time with many age levels of performers. If you have an external power supply that may be helpful. If not, make sure you have plenty of batteries and a place to charge them. Remember, you can only record 25 or 29 minutes at one time. Good luck.

06-04-2021, 10:49 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Thanks for al the input so far. To answer some of the points raised:

QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Better yet to have a video camera, but then it will cost you.
I still have an old miniDV camcorder but that will only provide an SD feed and I'm not certain I even have enough blank tape to cover the recital.

QuoteOriginally posted by roberrl Quote
you may have a prime that is more suitable
Yes, I have a number of primes that I could utilize for the full stage view depending on where I can setup. This will allow me to utilize the 50-135 for the zoom camera. The K-70 can certainly be utilized for the fixed camera.

QuoteOriginally posted by jimfellows Quote
How long is the recital?
I'm expecting the recital to run less than two hours with a short intermission. There are actually two separate recitals with the same program to allow the audience size to be capped. This will allow me to have a second chance if something goes wrong.

QuoteOriginally posted by jimfellows Quote
If not, make sure you have plenty of batteries and a place to charge them.
I'm expecting the camera will be well away from any power source, so I will be need to rely on switching batteries out. Luckily I have a good quantity of both DLi-190 and DLi-90 batteries. I also have the grip for the K-3, which will give extended run time without needing a change.

QuoteOriginally posted by jimfellows Quote
Remember, you can only record 25 or 29 minutes at one time.
There will be a short break between numbers but without a curtain, I'm not certain if these will be as long as normal. Hopefully, it should be enough time to stop and restart the cameras to avoid hitting the recording limit.
06-04-2021, 01:23 PM   #6
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I have never used my camera for serious video. But I recently looked into what would be needed for youth / high school sports. What I read is that 1080 60fps is more important than than 4k or 8k at a lower frame rate. I would assume dance is the same.

What is the end goal? Is it just to be able to show the dancers after the fact? Or some level of production value? If the former I would probably set up with one camera wide enough to get the stage and pause during number breaks. I would get the focus and depth of field and leave it alone. If the latter and they want this for promotional use it... Good luck?
06-04-2021, 03:48 PM   #7
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You received already some good advice,

I may suggest to consider a shotgun mic for the audio, on one of the camera. The K-5 has a mic jack. The shotgun mic will enable to have a cleaner audio record of the recital.

I used before successfully the Rode Videomic shotgun Rode VideoMic Pro shotgun reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database. (I have no vested interest).

Hope that the suggestion may help.
06-04-2021, 05:43 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sidney Porter Quote
What is the end goal? Is it just to be able to show the dancers after the fact? Or some level of production value?
Normally the recordings have been offered to the parents as a memento of the occasion. In the past these have professionally produced and the videographer made their money off the sales. This year I was volunteered by my wife, so I believe I'm in the "anything is better than nothing category". Working in the park, rather than the normal school auditorium, just adds another level of difficulty. I will certainly not be trying to profit by selling the DVDs.

QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
I may suggest to consider a shotgun mic for the audio, on one of the camera.
I would love to be able to utilize an external microphone but that is not really an option at short notice, so I am working with what I have. If all else fails, I can likely get a copy of the music directly from the studio and mix that in to cover any deficiencies in my recording.

06-04-2021, 07:24 PM   #9
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[unhelpful rant]
IMO, you are being setup to fail, as you have no experience with video. Did your wife volunteer you in your absence ? In your shoes, I would tell the school there was a misunderstanding, and tell them you can't record video for the event.
I guess no professional videographer wanted to be paid only by selling DVDs, which I can totally understand. Let the school deal with their decision.
[/unhelpful rant]

[slightly less unhelpful rant]
DSLRs are just not the best tools for recording a 2 hour event. In fact, Pentax DSLRs are some of the worst for this job. Pentax just has not made video a serious priority on these bodies. You will likely be better served with a modern smartphone, if you have one. The next tool of choice would be a Panasonic Lumix camera, as most of them have no time limit on video recordings.
[/slightly less unhelpful rant]

Now, if you still decide to go through with it after these rants, some tips, in totally random order :

1) Absolutely record the audio separately. The audio on the Pentax DSLRs is poor, at best. On some of them it's positively horrid.
Preferably, record audio very close to the stage or on the stage itself, with a pair of cardioid microphones, on a tripod, with your Zoom recorder. Make sure you test your SD card (run h2testw) and batteries before hand. Check that you can actually record audio for 2 hours continuously with the SD card and battery you plan to use.
2) If you must use a Pentax DSLR for video, make sure to set each camera on a tripod, and turn SR off.
3) Check how long each of your D-Li90 batteries actually last for video recording. Some old ones and 3rd parties may not even last 25 minutes. There is large variability in each battery. I just ran some battery tests yesterday on my K-1 II, see the following thread :
Battery life - AA vs Lithium Ion - PentaxForums.com
The Ikea Ladda AAs significantly outperformed the Li-On, more than double the length. These are eneloop pro clones. If you have this type of battery on hand, use them with the battery grip instead of the Li-on. Put one Li-on battery in the body, and 6 AAs in the battery grip.
It takes a very long time to test batteries like I did, though. Make sure to label your batteries if you are going to test them. I used a sharpie. If you notice one particularly weak Li-on battery, leave it home.
There are battery analyzers for AAs that check the capacity that I use, also.
4) Have an assistant. Your wife volunteered you to record the event. Volunteer her to be your assistant. At the very least, she can watch your gear, if you have multiple cameras in different places, or audio gear on the stage while you are in the back.
5) If you have a recent high end smartphone, mount it on a tripod and use it as an additional video camera. My Samsung Note 20 Ultra can record 4K/60fps without time limit. You could record the whole event to one file that way. Provided you have enough space. At 75 Mbps, two hours will be over 64GB . Make sure your phone has the space. My Note 20 Ultra has a 512GB SD card.
6) as far as software, I recommend PowerDirector Ultra on Windows. It's quite easy to use. Much easier than the Sony stuff, IMO. You can synchronize audio and video tracks very easily. I use a single license for PD16 (old version). They have a subscription model now (PD 365) but you can still buy single license. The free demo version is too limited to be of any use, IMO. Certain CODECs don't work, and I think there is a watermark. You'll want to make sure you have a beefy machine to edit, though. Nothing under 16GB of RAM. And SSD for all your files.
7) bring infrared remote(s) for your Pentax DSLR bodies and set the drive mode to remote. This allows you to easily start/stop the video recording. Great if you have a single Pentax camera. Not as great if you have multiple and they are all in the line of sight of one remote. But if you have multiple, I would suggest setting them at different locations. You will need someone to watch each camera, though ...
8) check if any of your Pentax bodies actually overheats after manually restarting the recording. Try to record for 2 hours if you can doing 5 videos.
9) SD card of 64GB will be totally fine for Pentax since the max file size is 4GB. You will have about 16-20GB of video for 2 hours split in 5 files, or more, if you choose to stop/restart the camera more frequently.
10) set the battery grip priority to "grip first". This way you can replace batteries in the tray between numbers by just opening the grip, without having to disconnect the battery grip from the body.
06-05-2021, 03:52 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by reduno Quote
Normally the recordings have been offered to the parents as a memento of the occasion. In the past these have professionally produced and the videographer made their money off the sales. This year I was volunteered by my wife, so I believe I'm in the "anything is better than nothing category". Working in the park, rather than the normal school auditorium, just adds another level of difficulty. I will certainly not be trying to profit by selling the DVDs.


.
you know the organizers better than we do. My follow up questions to them would be how much are they selling these for. If they are looking to sell for the same price the consumers / parents will be upset if production value is lacking. If they are planning on selling them for a reduced price and the consumers expectations are lowered I would be more comfortable.

I was almost in a similar situation last year with team and individual shots for a rec swim team. The pro that did the work previous did a poor job. Slow to get the pics back and then had multiple errors with the orders. The team wanted me to take the pictures and priced at a comparable amount. the team would have taken the revenue. I was fine with the team making the money since I was a volunteer. But I was not fine with charging the full amount and volunteering to run it like a pro. I countered that I would publish the photos on once of the online services and parents could place orders for prints. The prints would be placed slightly above the online services charge and the team would make the profit. The team would have still made more than hiring the pro. The reduced price set the expectation with the parents that they were getting a bargain and I wasn't going to deal with the administration of taking orders and distribute the end product. We all agreed and then covid cancelled the season. My kids are not swimming this year
6 Days Ago   #11
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Thanks to everyone who offered advice and suggestions. Some of you obviously spent some time putting a response together, and I really appreciated the detail. The recital itself is now behind me and I certainly learnt a lot. However, I feel it would have been far more stressful without your help. That said, I did want to provide some feedback on my experience and clear up some points that may have been interpreted incorrectly from my prior posts.

The recital is run by a small dance studio, the owner of which is a personal friend of my wife. My wife and kids have all danced with the studio, and my wife was actually in this recital. The recital is always put together with volunteer help (my self included) and is not intended as a money making venture. Normally the studio rents the auditorium at the local high school but otherwise there is no connection with the school itself, other than some of the kids may be students. The dance classes are purely recreational, with no dance teams or competition classes, so it is pretty low key with no great expectations for the performances. That said, some of the kids are pretty talented but still happy to dance with the special needs kids who are included as part of the studio.

In terms of the recital itself, I turned up with the expectation that I would be shooting into the pavilion from outside positioned somewhere behind the audience. Unfortunately, the layout really prevented this, as the view was obstructed by the posts for the pavilion roof and the ground level spectator seating, since the stage (AKA the pavilion floor) was not raised. After speaking with the instructor, we decided to try shooting from just inside the pavilion and off to one side of the stage. I had the K-70 setup with a DA 18-135 on a tripod to try and catch the main dance area, and had the DA* 50-135 on the K-3 for other shots. I really could have done with a wider lens on both cameras but the only other option I had with me was the DA 10-17 fisheye, which was not ideal from a distortion perspective. The zoom H1 was set up on a separate mini tripod on the sound table (which was being run by my daughter).

I ran with this configuration for the first recital and soon found the limitations. While the K-70 was capturing most of the dance area, some of the acts were moving out of the field of view at the corners of the stage. The 50 mm wide end of the K-3 setup was also not letting me get back far enough to capture anything but fairly close up shots of the dancers. The weight of the combo was also showing the limitations of my second tripod, so I ended up switching to a monopod as a more stable support. I guess I have a reason to buy a second heavyweight tripod now. I also discovered that while the K-3 could manage a full run

For the second run through, the assistant instructor asked if we could get a central camera position. As a result, we decided to go with the fisheye lens and place the tripod
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