Setting Up the Nikon D800 and D600 for a Concert Shoot. There will also be 2 Canon 60D’s, Canon T2i and a GoPro Hero rolling as well. Consider this to be somewhat of a technical case study. This is designed to help anyone wishing to have a live event covered by DSLR’s to know the gear considerations that go into a live production. Lets start by first watching the a segment of the final video.
Rob Drabkin Birthday Bash at Bluebird Theater from Jeff Zimmerman on Vimeo.
Long form event with my new Nikon DSLR’s. Thought I would share a few of my settings and setup. I’ll follow-up with an update. This will be a 90 minute live recording. Each Nikon only has 3 batteries, this should get me through the event. (fingers crossed)
Nikon D800 Setup: (roving shoot following the action)
Tamron 70-200mm SP 2.8
Transcend 32GB CF cards
External Sony CLM-55 Monitor via HDMI
Nikon D600 Setup: (wide establishing shot)
Tamron 24-70mm SP 2.8
SanDisk Extreme III 32GB Cards
External Super Directional Mic by JVC
Tascam DR-40 (4 Channel Rec Mode)
2 – Channels from the Soundboard
2 – Ambient Channels of the crowd
A few settings in the camera setup:
- Manual White Balance 2700K with +1 Magenta (This seems to add a touch of red to match the Canon’s)
- Menu setting: HDMI/Advance/Output display size to 100% for the monitor. This is not the default.
- Format Selected 1080p30 (this was to match the GoPro) normally shoot 24p for DVD and Web.
- Menu – CSM #C4 Live View to No Limit. Default is 10 minutes.
- Audio levels will be auto. This is for syncing only since we have the Tascam.
Since both cameras have 20 minute record limits. I’ll be stopping the cameras in a staggered mode around 17 minutes and restarting the record. The Canon cameras have 12 minutes record limits and the GoPro will be stopped and started every 20 +/- minutes in case the internal battery ends short.
This will also my first big project in FCPx using Nikon video clips, multi-cam and syncing options.
So everything went great for the Nikon’s and the show. The 20 minute record times for the Nikon’s shined, my friend using the Canon 60D’s (12 minute record times) seem to really admire that. Battery life was excellent. But I did generate one user error. When changing the battery on the Nikon D800, I forgot to turn-off the camera and released the battery. This caused the mirror to lockup and “err” after replacing the battery. This disabled “live view” temporarily. As a quick troubleshooting measure, I tried to take a photo which cleared the error, releasing the mirror and “live view” worked again. Just FYI to anyone who may need to swap batteries quickly and forgets like I did.
We were able to catch the sound check a few hours before the event. I set the cameras audio from “auto” to manual. The D600 had an external stereo mic with a level set at 5. The D800 used the onboard mic and the level was set to 3. The audio sounds great on both cameras and the Tascam DR-40 captured our master audio (auto level mode).
The D800 had a Sony CLM-55 monitor which I ended up not using. This was because I had to set the tripod to its full height to clear the crowd. The on camera LCD was level with my eye so I just used that. During the sound check I did a few test shoots and checked focus. Everything looked sharp, the 3.2 inch screen looked sharp and felt comfortable (former EX1 owner).
The D800 had the 70-200mm and was the roving, tight shot. The D600 had the establishing shot with the 24-70mm. Looking at the footage today. Aliasing is present in the wide shot from the D600. D800 wasn’t as bad but I’m guessing since it was tighter and depth of field had something to do with that.
Our settings across all DSLR cameras:
White Balance 2700 +1 Magenta on the Nikons (Looked prefect for concert lighting)
White Balance 2600 for the Canon’s
Profile scenes were set to Neutral.
1080p30 – Shutter 60 – Aperture f/4 – ISO 1250
Noise is slightly present but very acceptable at ISO 1250 for the Nikons. The 60D’s had a little more noise but acceptable. Also anyone looking to use a GoPro Hero 2 should know in a concert event it will look terrible. I knew this was not an ideal situation for the GoPro but since I had it why not try and use it.
A 70-200mm on our crop sensor (1.6×200 = 320mm) Canon 60D gave the perfect tight shot (40 feet from stage center). The D800 full frame with a 70-200mm gave pleasing shot but not as tight as I wanted. A 300mm lens would have been better so I’ll be looking out for one in the near future.
Also its good to be there for the sound check. I highly recommend it, we didn’t really plan on it at first. We decided to go early to shoot exteriors of the bill board and ran into the stage manager who told us. This allowed us to test our settings and set things to manual which I prefer. Auto anything can give varying and undesirable results.
So far, so good. The Nikon footage in FCPx came in seamless. What didn’t work seamless was the audio syncing. I knew it was a little more complex than an interview, which up to this point is the only thing that I have synced in FCPx. Multiclip is more complex, especially with DSLR’s. So I turned to Pluraleyes 3 which is the latest version.
Having used version 1 and 2 for FCP7. I knew the possibilities but didn’t know how it would work with FCPx. Pluraleyes 3 now has its own app for organizing media and syncing. Its very much looks like an editing program in itself. Once organized by camera shots, I then laid all the shots out in there respective timelines.
On the top you just click “Synchronization”. The screen started moving clips around and yellows arrows popped up relaying that it was a syncing point and began matching all the clips. It was very fun to watch and happened very fast.
At the end it gave me the choice to export to FCPx, which then launched and created a new event. The only thing remained was to make a new project (timeline) and drop the multiclip in. Open > Multiple Angles via the viewer and your off and running.