Choose a High Quality Video Camera
In our wonderfully techno-rific world, high-quality video cameras are relatively inexpensive. If you have access to or are looking to purchase one, consider an HD Digital Video Camera. HD (high definition) cameras feature some of the best innovations in video technology, providing you with super-sharp images that look fantastic in a variety of light conditions. This can be quite handy for dealing with the variety of light levels that happen during a Burlesque performance.
Features to Consider:
- The lens should include zoom options that can be controlled for speed and image quality. (a slow zoom in or out on a performance looks professional and can be very effective).
- The camera should have image stabilizers, which will prevent shaky images if you're shooting while holding the camera in your hand.
- Look for a camera with a video resolution of the highest mega-pixels possible. The higher the mega-pixels, the sharper your images will be, resulting in much better shots.
- Look for a camera with a minimum illumination rating. For HD cameras, this should be 7 lux or lower.
- Look for exposure controls such as shifts, modes, backlight modes and low-light modes. The ability to shoot well in low-light conditions is very important, as many performances will have low light levels included in their lighting plan.
Ever grab your fabulous camcorder and happily shoot that amazing night of performances, only to later realize that the video footage was too dark, or the video or sound quality was terrible? Well, we've jotted down a few notes that'll help avoid that and set you on the glittery, yellow-bricked path to shooting beautiful footage of performances in various lighting conditions and locations:
Avoid Zooming In and Out Too Much
Many digital camcorders come with a super duper 1000X zoom in and zoom out feature. This is a good thing, but has the potential to be used too much. We've seen countless videos full of quick zooms in and out of a performer, generally distracting from the actual performance that should be featured. Use the zoom in and out feature sparingly. A slow, well-controlled zoom is much more professional looking than a quick zoom. Some cameras have a speed adjustment on the zoom. Experiment with this and see what works best for the performances you're shooting.
Steady as She Goes
When we're shooting videos, our hands tend to vibrate a little. If the vibration is too much, it'll badly affect the quality of the video footage. There are a few ways to overcome this: If you want to keep a flexible, hand-held range of motion, choose a camera with an image stabilizer and turn it on. We've been able to emulate a smoothly moving camera or even a steadicam, by ever-so-slightly moving the camera while slowly (and occasionally zooming in or out). This is a great way to keep your video footage feeling as dynamic as the performance itself. Another method is to mount your camera on a good tripod stand, with a smooth-operating head, so you can change angles easily without jarring the image. Another way is to brace yourself against something like a wall or on a table, or perhaps stoop down on your knee while filming.
Establish Your LocationLet the audience know where this performance is happening. If the stage is in a beautiful theatre with a large, excited audience, you may want to start shooting with a view of much of this and then do a slow zoom into the performer as she or he comes out on stage. This gives your viewers a real sense of being in the audience and can make the performance look quite grand. Conversely, if the look of the stage leaves much to be desired, use this as an opportunity to have some fun creatively framing out the ugly parts. As long as you keep the performance as your primary focus while giving the viewer a sense of where this is taking place, you should be all kinds of tickety-boo…
Make Your Shots Fluid and Interesting
Avoid shooting long, static shots. Instead, utilize camera movement and slow zooms in and out. These help you accentuate various aspects of the performer and the performance, while keeping viewers enthralled with the variety and dynamism you brought to it.
Change Your Perspective
Don't limit your shots to one angle only. Approach your subject from a variety of angles, especially if you're shooting with more than one camera. Your goal should be to make the performer and performance look as good and as professional as possible, so study other performance videos to see what angles work best for the event you're shooting.
Learn from Concert Footage and MoviesYou'd be surprised how much you can learn about shooting video from concert footage and movies. Take some time to watch great footage that you'd like to emulate and study what they did with the camera (or cameras) and when they did it (ie: zooming in on a performer to accentuate a dramatic point or pulling away to show a triumphant finish). Consider how the shots were framed and where the camera was placed. You'll learn a lot and maybe even get interested in directing films… about Burlesque…
Batteries, Batteries, Batteries...
It's common to get so busy with prepping your shoot that you can neglect adequate battery supply. Please buy extra batteries. Ideally, have two of them standing by. Nothing's worse than shooting a performance and having the battery die on you. Also, always bring the AC adapter too – so that you can charge your current battery whenever time permits.
Of all the factors listed here, nothing can spoil a video shoot as much as poor lighting. We've seen a few performances that were amazing, but unfortunately, the performer was washed out or too deep in shadows to be truly appreciated.. One important tip is to shoot video with the light source behind you, shining on the subject.
Also check to see that the performer is under good lighting. If not, adjust your camera accordingly for low-light, which may unfortunately degrade your image somewhat.
Microphones are an essential tool for sound focusing and result in better audio quality during video shoots. Whether you're a serious videographer or shooting performances for fun, you should have one attached to your camcorder. This can be either an internal microphone or external. If it's the latter, make sure it captures the sound of the performance effectively and not so much of the audience blocking it out.
If you're doing a professional shoot of an event, you should have your camera tied into the venue's sound system, so you get a perfect copy of the sound from the stage. It's good at the same time to record the audience reactions, so they can be tied into the video when you edit it.
If you have a program like iMovie or any other simple consumer editing programs, it's pretty easy to give your video a great look.
Start by uploading your video footage into the program and then, if using one camera, adding a nice fade-up from black at the beginning and a fade-out to black at the end. 2 seconds for each of these fades is an effective length. You can also add a title over the black at the beginning and credits over the black at the end. If you're doing that, you may want to lengthen the time of black on the screen. It can be visually fun and interesting to use a different color or pattern instead of black – perhaps there's something that works better with the overall color scheme of the performance or maybe fits to the particular visual branding of the performer.
If you're editing footage from multiple cameras, you can still do this in a simple program, but may find it easier to use Final Cut Pro or similar. With these programs, you can keep a lot of footage in them to work on and you also have many more tools to work with.
Study the footage from the different camera angles to see which ones portray each particular part of the performance best. And have fun cutting them together. Because most Burlesque performances are music-based, a fluid style of editing is usually more effective.
Once you've edited the performance, render it in a size and format that can easily be uploaded. For Burlesque Stars, we accept the following files, up to 500 MB in size:
File Format: AVI, MP4, MOV, and MPG formats.
Codec: H.264, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4.
Once you've edited your masterpiece and are ready to upload it to Burlesque Stars, follow these steps for a quick n' easy process:
- Log in to www.BurlesqueStars.net
- Click the “UPLOAD” button on the page
- Follow the instructions to choose your video and begin the upload process
- Once the video has uploaded, you'll be given the option to choose your thumbnail image. Scroll through the ones available and choose the one that best represents the performance. This helps a lot in attracting viewers to your video as often they'll see the thumbnail image before any other information.
- Once you've chosen the thumbnail image, enter a short & sweet title and a good, brief (and of course tantalizing) description of the video.
- You'll also see a list of key words you can tag onto your video. Tag all the ones that are appropriate to it. This will be a HUGE help in getting your video in front of as many eyes as possible.
- Press “Save” when you've finished all of that and Voila!, your performance will be up shortly. We review all videos being uploaded to ensure quality and resonance for Burlesque Stars. As long as your video is Burlesque-centric and complies with our “Code of Conduct”, you'll be able to see it and share it with friends in a few minutes.
Thanks for shooting the work you do and uploading it. We exist because of all the great videos we receive and love watching videos where the quality of the shoot and the performance are equally mesmerizing. If yours is this, trust that we'll be featuring it a lot!
Once you've learnt the basics, improving your shooting skills will come very naturally, and if you're truly interested in enhancing them further, why not take a quick course at any local film/video school? Or better yet, befriend that ultra-hot videographer you've been eyeing…