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10 Tips for Filming Better Live Music and DJ Performance Videos


Learn 10 pro tips and tricks for planning, shooting, and editing compelling videos filmed live at music and DJ events. Expert advice from AbstractZen.com.
Learn 10 pro tips and tricks for planning, shooting, and editing compelling videos filmed live at music and DJ events. Expert advice from AbstractZen.com.

Capturing the energy of a live concert or DJ set on video presents unique challenges. From low light conditions to fast-paced action, mastering the production process requires both technical skill and creative vision. Follow these 10 expert tips to take your music event filming to the next level.





Ask any videographer - successfully filming live performances means expecting the unexpected. When recently tasked with documenting renowned house DJ Joezi's triumphant New York City set during his groundbreaking USA tour, we utilized many hard-won techniques for capturing the energetic occasion’s magic without a hitch.

Beyond just hitting record, truly showcasing a special event like Joezi’s tour stop through video requires thoughtful production choices. From pre-planning essential shots to artfully editing a stylized aftermovie, here are 10 tips for filming better live music and DJ performance videos based on our frontline experience.


Tip 1: Scout Your Shooting Location Thoroughly

When time allows, physically reviewing the concert venue or club well before filming date proves invaluable. Videographers can better formulate where to position cameras, account for any obstructed sight lines, and plan unique perspectives by scouting firsthand.

In our case, closely examining Nebula Club’s distinct tiered dancefloor and perimeter catwalk informed framing crowd reactions from intriguing front-and-center viewpoints our team hadn’t initially considered.

Tip 2: Overprepare Your Shooting Equipment

Between low light, quickly evolving stage set ups, and cramped photographer pits, shooting live events demands having versatile gear. While possible to capture decent footage using prosumer equipment, prioritizing workhorse camera bodies, bright lenses, external mic packages, and stabilizer accessories drastically improves end results and handling unpredictability.

When filming DJ Joezi’s Nebula Club set, our mirrorless cameras with adaptable lens mounts, built-in stabilization, and incredible high ISO abilities proved essential for artistic shots impossible using basic gear.

Tip 3: Construct Detailed Shot Lists

Beyond just having proper equipment, developing an expansive catalog of desired scenes and framings before arriving on location sets a disciplined creative vision. Rather than randomly capturing whatever is happening, meticulously planning exact moments like performer entrances, song crescendos, or crowd reactions you aim to feature ensures you execute deliberate, compelling shots in the moment.

In our shot list for Joezi, we storyboarded over a dozen ideas from highlighting vinyl record scratches on the turntables to wide shots emphasizing fist pumping fans. Revisiting these motifs across individual numbers then created diverse editing options come post-production time.

Tip 4: Record Backup Audio!

While built-in camera microphones grab adequate sound for syncing video in editing, only utilizing that scratch track risks subpar audio. Instead, have the performer’s management team patch a soundboard feed with isolated crowd mics directly into external recorders, if possible. This results in pristine, balanced audio closely matching what the audience hears.

Tip 5: Mind Your Camera Settings

Nailing correct white balance, picture profile, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and focus mode settings before performances get underway prevents you losing great scenes while tweaking things mid-show. For concerts, consider custom white balance modes to balance stage lighting color casts. Boost picture profile contrast to cut through atmospheric haze. Dial ISO up for exposure flexibility. Then set a shutter angle of 180 degrees for proper motion blur with Variable ND filters on lenses to handle brightness shifts quickly.

Tip 6: Talk Through Camera Moves

Having a director personally guide videographers through headphones helps enormously when chasing the spontaneity of live events across multiple camera feeds. Rather than predictable static shots, having someone in the editing booth surveying all displays yell instructions like “Camera 1 go close on lead singer, Camera 2 pan left and find guitarist, be ready for solo!” keeps footage interesting in real time by working together reacting.

Tip 7: Capture Interludes

DJ and band sets have natural breaks between songs or musical sections. Instead of joining the crowd for a breather, smart crews will capture “B roll” - shots between main action. Examples like the drummer taking a water break, frontman shaking hands with fans, or turntablist cueing up the next vinyl record. These become useful moments editing final videos to split up extended performance shots for better pacing.

Tip 8: Work The Room Not Just The Stage

You can’t have an immersive concert recap without glimpses of fan reactions. Monotonous band-only perspective fails to emotionally convey an event’s memorability. The ecstatic joy as attendees sing along or leap in unison to the bass dropping demonstrates an unspoken connection that only filming the crowd’s explosive energy translates.

Tip 9: Mind Your Shot Composition

Between quickly moving subjects and restricted positions, snagging ideal compositions while live filming proves tricky. Still, remembering fundamentals like the rule of thirds for subject placement or adjusting so horizon lines don’t annoyingly bisect frames will make footage editing easier. You want to capture engaging visuals not fixer uppers.

Tip 10: Know When To Improvise

Lastly, things will go wrong. Audio rigs hum, the setlist shifts, your frame composition gets blocked by a roaming speaker stack. Experienced crews plan for hiccups by packing backup gear, allowing overflow media card capacity, having contingency shot options if sight lines shift, and embracing creativity when obstructed. Shooting live means rolling with the unpredictable punches.

Next time you prepare filming bands, electronic musicians, or DJ performances, do so armed with these essential tips for smoother production and impactful results. They’ll help capture inspired footage that emotionally resonates. Lights, cameras, action!

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