by Bonnie Keith of VideoMagic Productions
People are either amused or ‘in awe” when they learn that I will sometimes employ up to 9 cameras on a video shoot of a live event or special occasion.
My use of multi cameras is not done for anyone’s amusement or to bring any special attention to myself or my company VideoMagic Productions.
Using multi cameras for me is not an option, it is a necessity born out of an experience that taught me what can happen when I do NOT use multi cameras for a live event.
The story is simple. Many years ago, I was filming a Catholic wedding in a beautiful church setting. I was operating one video camera near the front of the church with perfect views of both the door where the wedding party would make their entrance, as well as the stage where the wedding itself was to take place.
I was in the process of doing final checks on sound and lighting when the wedding ceremony began. I quickly rushed to get into perfect position to capture the wedding party entering the church. Most importantly was the entrance of the bride and her father, perfectly framed as I captured them moving down the aisle towards the priest and the groom.
As the processional came to an end, I repositioned myself to face the stage where the entire bridal party was standing in preparation for the ceremony. I decided to STOP my camera for a moment and start it up again so that I had one separate video clip for the entrance of the processional.
To my shock, INSTEAD of the camera turning OFF when I pressed the on/off button, it turned ON. Which meant that I had not recorded one second of the processional or entrance of any of the bridal party. My sound check, lighting check, and perfect framing and positioning were for naught. I missed the entire entrance.
One huge decision on my part at the last moment, that completely saved the day for me, was to have a “second” camera way in the back upstairs on the balcony capturing everything from that angle. That camera was just supposed to be there to capture a different angle for variety. I was going to use possibly a minute or so of that footage scattered throughout the wedding ceremony video.
However, I ended up needing to use all of the footage from that camera or I would have had NOTHING for the entrance in the final video I produced for the bride and groom. Fortunately, the footage from the second camera was quite beautiful, interesting, and ended up working out very well for me in the end.
Here comes the lesson. ANYTHING can go wrong in a live event. Anything and everything. My first job, therefore as a professional, qualified, artistic, award winning videographer is to lessen the chances of that happening in the future.
Therefore, I now use multi cameras on all my video shoots. I use several microphones on camera, body lavalier mics on the clients (bride & groom, performers, speakers), backup audio in several places such as my zoom recorder (I feed into the audio mixing board if one is available as well), extra tripods, tons of batteries, on camera lights (just in case the venue is too dark), and extra extension cords, XLR connectors and any other accessory or equipment to insure against most unforeseen moments.
Just recently, I once again was blind-sided by an equipment failure that could have been disastrous with one of my newer, better cameras. The battery (which was showing that it still had over 60 % life) just depleted. The video footage I had been shooting for over an hour was NOT SAVED to the memory card at all. I tried retrieving the footage using third party programs but to no avail.
If I did not have Four other cameras filming the same event from multiple angles, I once again, would have had NOTHING. But the video filmed from the other cameras was beautiful and served the purpose well to cover the one camera that had a malfunction.
Lesson learned. Backup, backup, and backup. I would rather have too much footage than too little or even, none at all.
Bonnie In Action
If you would like any information on how I can help capture your live event, special party or occasion, theatre performance, recital, school graduation with my multi camera setup, contact Bonnie at: