When planning a multi-camera video shoot, several factors can impact the quality of the final production. Choosing the right equipment (along with the crew to run it) will have the greatest influence on the quality of the final production. Here are some details to look for when selecting cameras:
- Matched codec/format. Ideally, all your footage will have the same codec (compressor/decompressor). If you've mixed formats (like DVCPRO HD and AVCHD), you may need to convert the footage to match for some edit systems. You'll also want to be able to match frame rates so footage stays in sync.
• Lens length. With multi-camera events you'll often be shooting from a distance. Many cameras have fixed lenses that aren't good for long-distance shooting. Be sure to consider distance from subject when choosing a camera.
• Number of audio inputs. Generally speaking, cameras will have 2–4 inputs. Depending on your number of audio sources, more discrete audio channels can really come in handy. If not, look to use an external audio recorder.
• Chip size. Many multi-camera shoots are for concerts or performance events. These events often have low light, which means cameras with single chips, or even 1/3"1/3-inch chips, can get grainy.
• Tapeless acquisition. Choosing to record direct to disk or cards makes it easier to record for long periods without interruption. Make sure you have enough recording capacity to avoid having to stopping for a "tape change."
• Timecode method. Be sure to examine your options, which will may include time of day or synced timecode. These professional options make syncing cameras easier.
Tip: Power in Demand
Ten cameras plus a five-ton grip truck’s worth of lights can put a big drain on a location's circuit. Be sure you do a site survey and identify where your power is coming from. You'll likely need to use several extension cords ("stingers") to get the required power to your set. If you draw from too few outlets, you may blow a fuse.