What is the best way to shoot a piano performance?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by trusso11783, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. trusso11783

    trusso11783 Guest

    My friend wrote a very moving piano piece and wants to do a video for
    it. It is instrumental. He basically wants a performance of it. We
    arranged to shoot at a local music college where they can supply a
    Grande Piano and stage. My question is really about the lighting. We
    are going to go for the concerto look. Of course, no one will be in
    the audience. I plan of shooting about 10 takes from different
    positions, some static and some motion. WIll cut it all together when
    it is done. He is going to play to the cd he made of the song so that
    it is all uniform as far as shots go.

    My concern is the lighting. Do we shoot it in the same atmosphere as a
    concert (dark with a light on the player)? I dont want grainy looking
    video. I have a few cameras. Panasonic HMC 150 and TM700, Canon T3i.
    Is it better to shoot in more light and darken it like they do for
    many movies? ANy ideas?
    trusso11783, Feb 2, 2013
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  2. trusso11783

    Steve King Guest

    Don't know what your lighting resources are, but I would do this, I think:
    Assuming your cameras match pretty well, three cameras on tri-pods, one
    wide, one close-up on pianist, one medium close-up on keyboard.... do a take
    all the way through the piece. The only camera, where sound synch is
    important, will be the MCU on the keyboard. Get the tripods out of the way,
    choose the camera you can do your best hand-held moving shots, and do moving
    shots through the whole piece keeping the camera running for the whole take.
    Put all the camera takes in your editing program, sync up the hand-held
    track with the other three and cut back and forth as you wish. Sound synch
    will only be important, when on player with arms, hands, fingers in view.
    Focus your attention on lighting the player for the player close-up camera,
    but I'd also light the piano more than it might be for a live concert. I'll
    be interested to see what others suggest.

    Steve King
    Steve King, Feb 3, 2013
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  3. trusso11783

    Brian Guest

    The type of atmosphere you create depends on the type of music that is
    played. Is it a light happy tune or some more deep serious music. Take a
    look at some music clips on YouTube for ideas. Piano players such as Elton
    John play a range of music styles. You might consider fading in photos that
    can add mood to the music.
    The parts that should be well lit are the piano player and they keyboard so
    the audience can clearly see who is playing the piano and how he plays the
    piano. A mid shot showing him playing the piano overcomes any doubt that he
    is faking his piano playing.
    Brian, Feb 3, 2013
  4. Sounds good to me - so to speak - and presuming you will be using the CD
    track as the master. Lighting, I would light it with the existging stage
    lighting & make it look pretty - these cameras ought to be able to handle
    just about any lighting situation. The key to eliminating grain is do NOT
    let the camera crank up the gain on an auto exposure setting, as if it is
    trying to make the mood lighting look like daylight again. As for white
    balance, I have always had pretty good luck setting all cameras to tungsten,
    but if the lighting will be constant for you, maybe do a WB on a card near
    his face with all cameras. Whenever I have tried to use existing lighitng as
    "mood" color (you know, the candle light look) it just looked off in video.
    But as long as you are consistent. Take a "big TV" along and play it back
    for all to see before take #2.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Feb 3, 2013
  5. trusso11783

    trusso11783 Guest

    Thanks for the replies. My only real issue is the lighting for a dark
    recital look. I may wind up only using the Canon t3i for 10 takes. The
    song is a tad sombre, yet uplifting at times. Very inspirational, yet
    simple. We are thinking of a dark room with only the piano and player
    lit. I am not sure what lighting will be available to us. If it turns
    out that the lights must stay on, somewhat, what are my options then?
    Does darkening the picture look good in something like After Effects?
    I know that many "night" scenes are shot in full lighting and then
    made to look like night in post production. I would prefer to get it
    right at the time of the shoot and not rely on too much post
    production effects to make it look dark.

    Are there any known good settings for low light pianist performances?
    I dont know much about f stops and all. Again, I want to avoid grain
    in low light. I will use manual settings.
    trusso11783, Feb 8, 2013
  6. trusso11783

    Brian Guest

    You could try using masks that have a soft edge and have a round mask that
    masks of everything except what is in the center of the picture. Slow
    transitions can also help in post production. Like I said in an earlier
    post you need to get some ideas from professional recorded piano
    performances that can be found on YouTube. If possible check out the
    location before the event happens.
    Brian, Feb 8, 2013
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