Tips on shooting performances

Here are some tips on shooting video of tango performances from the Tango Video Project. His tips are specifically for people using digital still cameras, not video cameras.

So you would like to shoot some video. Here are my suggestions for capturing those performances.

Shoot in the highest quality that your camera has. Ideally you will be able to shoot in 640x480 in 30 frames per second. If you have to sacrifice resolution or frame rate I would sacrifice resolution. 320x240 by 30 fps looks quite good as well. 640x480 by 15 frames per second doesn't look as good to me.

Enjoy the performance. It is very easy to get so caught up in filming the performance that you don't actually watch the performance. I always set my camera to be zoomed all the way out and then just hold it in front of me and turn my body to watch the dance. That way I don't actually look at the camera and the dancers are almost always in frame. After the video has been shot you can zoom in on it with software. Most digital cameras don't let you use the optical zoom while shooting video anyway.

Do not focus on the feet. It is tempting to do but makes for uninteresting video later. If you are able to make the dancers fill the frame without chopping off their heads that is the best. If they get too close to the camera for you to fit them all in the frame then of course focus on whatever you want. The goal should be to get the entire couple in the frame.

Hold the camera in the normal horizontal position. It is tempting to turn it up to portrait perspective but doing so usually gets you no real benefit and ads quite a bit of work in post-production to make the video watchable.

Start recording as soon as you realize that there will be a demo. This is usually when the organizer stands up and says "now we will have a performance by...". This will get the audio for the entire song and will allow for a more complete video clip. The clip can always be shortened later but it's a pain to replace the missing audio. You have to find the EXACT copy of the song that was used for the performance and then splice it in.

End the recording soon after the song has ended. This will make sure that you can always find the clip your looking for. Also, Start recording as soon as your camera will let you after you've finished the last one. That way you can catch the announcer announcing the next performance, song name.. whatever.

The overall theme of this is that you can always throw away info later, but it's impossible to create it from thin air. The entire song, the announcer announcing the couple, the song.. are really nice to have. Finally, don't forget to watch the performance yourself. It's not the same to see it on a computer screen.

Once you get home you can Upload the clips to the Tango Video Project.