The Music Gig

The Music Gig

Many people think that 'The Music Gig' is the ideal event to 'cut their teeth' in event videography - well maybe, and then again maybe not.  If you know the band, know the event organiser, know the promoter and no one will be overly upset if things go wrong .... well ... maybe!

All Live Events are prone to things going wrong, as 'The Music Gig' is no exception.  By and large, you will be shooting in very confined spaces, lighting will be problematic, the audience will probably be moving around and the lead singer will scurry around jumping and diving like his pants are on fire - this could be a nightmare if you don't prepare well.

The Venue

Get to walk around the venue, preferably on your own, or with the venue operator, before the day of the shoot.  Get things sorted out in your head - will the audience be seated, or will this be a free-for-all?  Think camera angles.  Where are the safe areas?  Is this the time that you will deploy your secret weapon - the remote controlled gantry mounted camera?  Sounds a mouthful - but for many disco-type locations, this is your only option and one that we specialise in :-)  During this recce, decide on the primary locations, then secondary ones in case the primary ones are not available on the night.  Work out cable runs back to where the control area will be located.

How will sound be controlled - there is hardly a band in existence that does not bring its own sound mixer.  Find out the make and what types of outputs are available.  Will they be monitor (high impedance) or line (low impedance) type connectors.  Are they XLR, DIN, Phono, Mini .... this is your recce - it will be too late to be asking these questions on the night, and for amusic gig, what good is the video if there is no, or poor sound?

What are the lighting banks like - in fact are there any lighting banks available?  Many operators love those multi-coloured synced lights that flash with the music - is it possible to have a background level below which the lights will never drop - remember, you are trying to video the event, and what looks OK to the human eye is often blacker than the depths of a coal-mine to your camera.  The lighting back might be your friend - it is a cool camera mount - AND SAFE!

If this is a large venue, then you are in heaven - there will be many roped off areas that you will be free to roam - places where you will be able to let the creative juices flow!

The Press Pass

This is a must for any serious videographer - get known and get that pass.  Last year I covered the Rose of Tralee, and it would have ended up no better than any ordinary visitor's holiday video but for that press pass.  This allows you backstage, access to the performers, access to the rehearsals, access to those restricted areas where you can get the 'sweet shot'.  Access is key to covering any event professionally.  What good is it to be shooting from the crowd, when you could be on-stage - think of it!


As with all live events - a single camera will seldom be sufficient.  It is a live event, it cannot be re-shot, if you miss it, then you miss it and end up crying into your coffee at a missed opportunity.  As mentioned in ( The Event - Going Live I ) there is normally a minimum of 2 cameras needed depending on the usage of the video output.  So, know your customer!

It is most likely, that your output video will be used as a live feed to satellite, to the web or used for creating a DVD - i.e. for a remote audience.  Therefore - you must re-create the atmosphere.  Think about having a roving camera on a SteadiCam so that you can get right into the action on stage.  But also think health and safety.  Anytime that a camera operator is roving, then he/she needs an assistant for protection - OK!

Setting Up

Come early, I normally allocate a MINIMUM of 2 hours preparation, followed by a MINIMUM of 30 minutes of a break to relax - why?

For starters, the preparation never seems to run smoothly.  Simple things like - I can't get the van close to the venue and end up lugging equipment a couple of hundred metres - studio cameras in their aluminium cases are heavy, believe me!  Are there enough video cables to cover all those cable runs that we worked out at the initial recce?  Did you bring all the adapters for different plug/socket combinations?  Now that you see the sound mixer, did anyone tell the sound engineer about you or do you have to negotiate access to an output - in fairness, I have found all sound engineers to be really sound (excuse the pun) and most helpful.  Are those camera positions still available or do you now find that the tripod is too big, or something has been placed there for some reason?  You connect everything to the Video Switcher, and then comes the tedious but essential task of colour balance, contrast, light levels - so that all cameras give a balanced output - and this can only happen if the stage crew have tested and are willing to rehearse some of the lighting sequences for you - believe me, it really does take a long time to setup (almost as long as this sentence!).  And that is the reason for the 30 minute break - you need to relax and prepare for, what could be a 2-3 hour recording/broadcast session.

Did I really say a 2-3 hour session?  Yes I did!  Those batteries won't last -so either have hot-swap adapters for the cameras or suitable access to mains power for them.

The list is endless, but I love it!