Tuesday, July 9, 2013

There has been a delay in editing while I recover from Audio Feed Festival

I went to the Audio Feed Festival.  Although I was trying to plan the trip and make it for both days, my goal was to video tape part of the festival (the main stage), being the Arkansas stage.  I was hoping to get stuff together and perhaps even get a friend or two who was involved in past video production to go along.  There  was a lot of planning necessary and most importantly planning for the unknown.  I made several mistakes, perhaps, but these were mostly due to my not having time to actually do the planning and research necessary to gear up properly and perhaps pre-plan a lot better.

It's been a while since I've video taped bands of course, again.  I didn't tape since CStone and that was a rather fast gear up and shoot.  There were several differences, some good, some not so good compared to the Cornerstone Festival.  The stages of course are different, because it's a different location.

Audio Feed Festival, to me. . . and I write this still tired. . . is like Cornerstone Concentrate.  It's kind of like a "mini me" version of Cornerstone.  Being smaller and just starting out it's somewhat like the early festivals in Greyslake Illinois before JPUSA bought the farm, and that was a long time ago.   This festival is actually smaller than the earliest Festival I attended at Greyslake, back in 1987.  My first festival wasn't the first actual Cornerstone.   The first one at the state fair grounds had bands playing in larger indoor buildings and the main stage was outdoors on a field with a large stage.  They had more people at the 1987 Cornerstone than at Audio Fest if I've heard correct figures.  Someone estimated that 1000 people showed up at Audio Feed Festival.  Let me tell you if you wanted to attend another Cornerstone and thought about it, but didn't go, I think you missed something special.  It had that Cornerstone feel, with the same types of bands.  They only had four stages however which is a very small sampling indeed of stages compared to the much larger Cornerstone Festival.   There was so much good, of course room for improvement, but that will take time, more people and more volunteers.  From what I saw it looks successful.

Now for some quick comments on my video attempt at Audio Feed Festival and where I went wrong.  I may start a blog or discussion about that as a separate blog, because it's really off topic.

There were of course a bunch of differences, and some were good for me and some were bad for the video and audio that I captured.  This was due primarily because I was tired to begin with before the trip and I didn't quite plan things correctly.  Because I was so tired I almost abandoned the trip in the middle of the trip out there, because I left a laptop bag with all my important power adapters and chargers at home.  I rushed out and had fewer battery chargers and fewer options for the festival.  I hit construction and got lost, leaving late with some gear thrown together, not anywhere as well planned as the Cornerstone trip I had no idea what problems I might encounter and how I would have to adapt.  I took a lot of extra little items, but forgot the key bag.  Also I bought two camcorders on the way.  One to replace a camcorder I bought and sold at last years Cornerstone.  And another to have four camcorders.  I almost bought a GOPRO but decided the short battery life and limit to three angles might make it less flexible and I didn't have time to figure out the setup and if a GOPRO would really be the best camera for shooting over the back of the bands to the crowd.  I didn't know how the stages would be setup.  I didn't know how the sound would be.  I didn't know if I would encounter lighting problem.   I didn't even know if I'd go and wavered even while driving out there.  I bought a couple of low end SONY HD camcorders to augment my other cameras.  All my batteries were charged.  I even had all the RAW video and audio from last years fest loaded on a hard drive to give to Glenn Kaiser and spent time getting that ready, so JPUSA would at least have all the source video and audio I shot from last year.   But I left late, and arrived for only the second day.

I emailed a fellow videographer who was out there who I met last year.  Jeff was doing video out there and we met last year.  I also met another guy whose name I don't recall and I didn't have his contact information. I tried to message ahead and call ahead to find out what the setup was like, but I couldn't get the information quick enough to make intelligent gear purchases on the way out.   I had a very limited budget as well.

I can't speak for the other stages as far as the setup was, except the impromptu stage which was a small stage under a tent.  I briefly saw the HM tent which looked like a small Encore stage setup.  I saw and watched two songs at the impromptu set during a break in the bands at the Arkansas stage.  Because I was trying to do so much and really too much alone, I didn't have the opportunity to do all the things I would have liked to.  I mentioned I would be coming out to video tape stuff at the fest and provide what I could to the festival. There was some mention of what they would like and things I could do.  A really fast exchange.

One of those things was "run and gun" footage really, a typical event footage where you take a camcorder and do some interviews.  I'd have a chance to interview band members back stage before they played.

The problem with that however is you need to have the time and possibly at least one crew helper to do that, and you need to have your other setup running smoothly.  Unless you're only using one camera and running around getting a single camera perspective, the run and gun style is difficult to add on.  They may have needed that more than what I was doing.  I hoped to network and hoped that others with their single cameras running around would get that kind of video and it would get to the festival.

In a sense I was geared up for something different than what Audio Feed Festival probably had hoped for.  In retrospect I might have been able to give them a good single camera edit with run and gun techniques and they would be much happier.  But I choose to go toward my strength, or at least try to and that's multi-camera event video "on the cheap", meaning free.   And that meant I had to have some gear lined up.

I tried to entice my friends with an offer of a new camera.  Those who helped me shoot before.  I was thinking along the lines of a more expensive set of cameras, which run $900 each or more with extra batteries.  Would I be able to convince one of my past video guys to go and take the shooting risk.  We could get things in the can and at the end of the festival I'd give them a camera.  I knew that we could have worked as a team and got better footage, but it's just a job. . .  it's hard work and I must admit that I turn into a kind of adrenaline charged Dr. Hyde workaholic at these festivals.  Not that I'm trying to be abusive, but I'm just trying to do so much, I tended in the past to just ask others to shoot as much as they can.  And we don't necessarily show restraint and discipline in limiting out video shooting to take breaks, we just shoot and shoot and shoot.   With a full schedule, and not much of a crew it becomes very difficult to get any rest at a festival like this.

What would Audio Feed be like?

The Arkansas tent was my best choice, because it was indoors in a building.  Maybe room for 500 people in it with chair and air conditioning.  The back of the building had a huge garage door that opened and was open.  Because the rear walls existed sound bounced off the walls and bass built up in the rear of the room.

I met Jeff at the Arkansas stage, or at least I thought it was him, but actually mixed him up with the other guy I met from Cornerstone.  I was friendly and chatting with both of these guys at Cornerstone, but got the names mixed up.  So I thought Jeff was this other guy, who specializes more in audio recording.  And I guess I didn't call the other guy Jeff much we just chatted so he didn't catch it and we didn't even re-introduce ourselves.  Things were so rushed for me, because I had all this new stuff and new limitations due to not having battery chargers.  I was literally caught in a marathon of getting to the cameras between acts, turning them off, taking batteries and charging them and even camcorders and charging them and putting them back on the tripods between each set.  And the sets were going at one band an hour.  A 45 minute set and then a 10 minute or so setup for the next band.

I didn't have time to talk to the audio guy.  I didn't have time to talk to the lighting guy.  I didn't even have time to determine if the exposure on the camcorders matched the lighting or make any lighting suggestions to the lighting guys.   This became a bit of a problem for some of the video, because I had the new cameras on "auto exposure" adjustment.  They were set for low light due to the way the average metering works with these cameras and the way the stage was light.   If you have a huge white light shining on the lead vocalist and it's close to him and it's turned up a lot and the other lights are mostly gels, then the difference in brightness will be difficult to overcome with a wide shot and a video camera will not adjust and find the right exposure.  To manually turn down the exposure, for the one bright light on a face will make the rest of the band members be darker and they may be in a dark stage.  The low light capabilities of these low end Sony Camcorders will bring in the low light parts of the stage better than perhaps we would see at the show, overexposure may result.

How was this different from the Cornerstone Gallery stage?  The Cornerstone Gallery stage for some reason with it's lighting setup seemed to have most of the fill lighting further away and the stage lighting was LED stage lights from the back.  It was a more sophisticated setup.  This made the regular video footage shot by normal camcorders better as far as not being blown out with automatic exposure settings.  But the problem with the LED lights for video people was some video cameras picked up a frequency video artifact from the pulsating LEDS which can be picked up by some cameras with their shutter speed picking up the pulsing led lights of some of the lights.  This happened at Cornerstone.   The LED lighting also mixes pure colors giving a  blown out blue tint at times or very much richer colors than the naked eye can see.  LED lighting provides a better show than the old cans, but it's downside is the cycles or nature of the lighting has to be at a very high frequency to avoid problems of flicker on some camcorders.  My 3d still camera that can record 720 video could not work well at Cstone because of the led strobing effects.  With the "old par" lights the strobe effects were reduced to zero as there is no pulsed strobe.  This meant that shutter rates of the cameras were not important and would not show the disturbances.   So I could get 3d video at Audio Feed Festival with the old lighting but not at the Gallery stage.

The LED lighting and how it's handled can be both a blessing and a curse.  Expensive LED lighting rated for video can be used, but that's even more expensive.  With practice and camera adjustments some cameras may be able to be set to shutter speeds that reduce the strobe artifacts which look like lines in the video.

With more time, not running around charging batteries and not arriving about two hours late, I might have been able to shoot test footage and coordinate a little better.  If I had all my equipment I might have been able to spend a little bit of time interviewing the bands backstage.  Another problem for me, which is logistical being a solo shooter is I couldn't hang around at a relaxed pace and chat with band members to get an interview, and sound checks happening so fast between acts, made it fairly noisy back stage.   There is a lot more that could have been done and a two or three man tag team of video guys can coordinate, take breaks and get much more variety in the can.   I'm complaining a bit, about what "could have been" but it's not really a big deal, I'm just a little tired and probably writing to much.  The truth is I did about as much as I could and shot for 13 hours during one day.  That was a pretty good a grueling process to grab some video. Hopefully with other clips from other video shot, the Audio Feed Festival will have some stuff for a promo video.

I've written a post that is really to long and involved.  I'll post it, but I have a lot of stuff to do here and I'm still recovering.  I have less than 187 gigs of video.  I have some video that wasn't deleted on some of the camera chips I used.  All transferred it ends up being about 190 gigs, but I'm sure the source for the Audio Feed Festival will be around 150 gigs of source video and audio.   Not bad for a days work.

Now the process of editing that video will begin as well.  It may delay some of the Cornerstone video editing, but I have a strategy to get that done quickly, which will allow me to get something to the festival promotors quicker.

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