Video Production Advice: Dance Recital Video Cameras


Video Production Advice

Earlier this week I was asked for advice from a videographer in Louisiana was considering upgrading from the SD Roland VR-5 video mixer to the HD Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E video switcher. Only a few days later my inbox has another question from another Louisiana video producer.

Video Production Question

Hi Shawn,
I do a lot of dance recitals and stage plays and need advice on a good camera for this type of work. We are currently shooting with Sony VX2100’s & PD 170’s
but need to upgrade. Any advice?? I love your video samples and would like to get that kind of look.
Many Thanks,
John McLaurin
Shreveport, La.

Video Production Response

Hi John,
Thanks for your question and kind works on my dance recital videos.

Here is a concept dance recital video I shot a few years back. This was filmed with the Sony HVR-Z7U and Sony HVR-Z5U video cameras with the internal HDV codec.

Here is a more recent one, shot on a pair of Sony NEX-FS100 video cameras using the internal AVCHD codec.

The big thing I notice when I view both examples and compare the stage portions is that there is way more detail preserved on the new video, shot on the Sony FS100s. The colours also pop a lot more and the noise level overall is a lot lower.

This advantage carries over to the typical next step in the delivery process, which is to author a DVD. Although we now offer HD downloads we still produce dance recital DVDs so this is an important consideration. I want my DVDs to look great so I want a full raster recording (no anamorphic recording like HDV and DVCPRO HD) from a large sensor that isn’t noisy like a trio of small sensor CMOS sensors are (like on the Sony Z7U, Z5U, NX5U, EX1, and EX3). So this is why I switched to the Sony NEX-FS100 for my all my video productions but the dance recital videos definitely benefit from this upgrade.

I even tried recording the uncompressed HDMI signal from my Z7U to an Atomos Ninja external ProRes HD recorder. This helped big time but the file sizes were 6-10x larger (depending on which ProRes codec I selected) and the small sensors were still a limiting factor. I actually don’t use my Ninja anymore with the FS100 because the AVCHD codec paired with a large sensor already outperform anything I could produce from a small sensor video camera.

So my recommendation is to upgrade to the FS100 and skip the HDV or even AVCHD line of 3 1/3″ CMOS cameras (Sony NX5U).

You will no longer have a 12x lens but seeing you are already shooting with two cameras you will want to shoot your wide with a 16-50mm or 28-75mm parfocal zoom lens and the medium-follow with a 28-75mm or 70-210mm parfocal zoom lens. The exact pairing will depend on how close you are to the stage and how wide the stage but generally you will have different lenses on each camera so if you own one of each of these three ranges you are set. I’ve written a lot on the FS100, large sensor acquisition, and FS100 parfocal zoom lenses so follow the links that I have sprinkled here and there for additional articles and blog posts that are relevant.


3 replies
    • Shawn Lam says:

      Thanks Mike. I was really torn when so many videographers were switching from video cameras to DSLRs for video but rather than jump on the bandwagon and trade video quality for audio workflow, I waited for a large sensor video camera that had both. The Sony FS100 is that camera and I now have better video, syncronized audio, and a much easier editing workflow – to me that is a competitive advantage.

  1. Mass Video Production says:

    Great stuff, Shawn. You should definitely do these more often, very detailed response and love the video you posted.


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