Getting the Most out of Performance Documentation

Ever since the introduction of the camcorder, performers have been able to easily make visual records of their shows. The age of streaming digital video has made the sharing of these videos online even easier, and as we become a more visual and multimedia culture, potential audience members and interested parties expect to be able to see part of your live event. And however we might feel about the sanctity of live performance, video documentation is becoming a more significant part of the experience, at least when it comes to marketing and promoting the show.

As mentioned at the beginning, the most basic form of performance documentation is to take your own video camera, stick it on a tripod, and shoot the whole stage. This method can yield useful results if you plan to use it as reference or for other internal use. However, if you intend to make the video available publicly or you want to use it as part of a portfolio, you will probably want to consider using professional video services (like ours!).

While Caulfield White Creative Industries employs a variety of techniques and strategies to craft a custom approach to every performance document, there are a few things you can do to make the videography go smoothly and to make the final product shine. There are many unique requirements in every new project, but we have found that clients who take some or all of the following actions have an easier and faster post-production process and a more satisfactory video.

Before even hiring a videographer, you should write out in detail your specific goals for the video. The ways you plan to use it will affect the way in which the production of the video is undertaken. Do you primarily need a long-form record of the performance to show producers, funding agencies, and to satisfy grant requirements? Or do you want to make a teaser video to promote your show online? Some multimedia performances may even need video taken at different stages of the process to incorporate into projections or other meta-stage elements of the production.

The next recommendation may seem obvious, but it often gets overlooked in the haste of rehearsals and meetings and other arrangements: consult your videographers early in the process. Alexandra and I love going to rehearsals (and we don’t charge extra for it). We have the capacity to document almost anything in an efficient and clean way on a moment’s notice but having seen at least the premise of the show before actually having to go shoot it will help us to create innovative custom strategies to get the most out of your show. Many past clients have also taken a simple video of the show for us so we can at least follow the action and plan our setups accordingly.

We don’t like to get too much into putting our technical preferences into the show, but one thing that comes up time and time again is that performers are staged too close to each other–it looks good to the audience, but can make getting a clean close-up shot of a performer very difficult. This is most often the case with music concerts where individuals remain in the same position for a long period of time.

Finally, it is always a good idea to brief your performers and technical staff on the goals of the video or at least on the fact that someone is coming to record the show. We have arrived at many jobs where only one person knew we were coming, and while we don’t desperately need recognition, your performers will feel more at ease if they aren’t surprised on opening night by a crew of strange people in black clothes hauling gear around their space. Making connections between the video team and the technical crew will also make last-minute questions easier and will allow us to solve problems without troubling you.

Obviously, these are just a few tips that have come in handy in the past. Your project will have its own unique requirements and we look forward to taking them on with you!