A video crew, volunteer or not, has the pride to do a reasonable job. It takes from 5 to 25 hours to prep, shoot and wrap a video shoot, NOT including editing. Value of equipment used can run up to $50,000.

There are some basic requirements for decent video images that are NOT consistent with normal stage lighting. Video camera is not as sensitive as the human eye. Video cameras also do not handle high contrast as well. So, if a stage production wants good video images and sound, some lighting and sound compromises must be made.

If a production is not willing to make these compromises, there is no reason to shoot video. It is a waste of time for the video crew and the results will probably cause bad feelings.


1. Lights brighter than usual. Lights can be adjusted during rehearsal AND MUST BE MAINTAINED AT SAME LEVEL DURING PERFORMANCES when video is recorded.

2. Set contrast should be kept as low as possible. If a shootable full dress rehearsal is possible, some fill lighting will help a lot.

3. White and black costumes should be avoided if possible. If off white and dark gray costumes are available, use them.

4. Video cameras need to be as close as possible and raised above stage height and audience heads, on stable platforms NOT shared with other people moving during performance (follow spot operators, sound, mixer, etc.).

5. The video tape recorders need a good audio feed from the "house board". This writer has experienced good audio feeds less than 1/2 the time in Santa Barbara.

6. The video crew might also want their own "back-up" mics.

7. The video crew will probably need to string cables.

8. The video crew cannot set up equipment in total darkness. Some cooperation with the stage lighting crew would help.

9. The video crew can't set up equipment at a 90 db. sound level.

10. Insurance to cover loss or damage of equipment would be greatly appreciated, especially for donated equipment.

11. If some people are paid, the volunteers should not hear about it.

12. If there is a party for the production, it would be nice to invite the volunteer video crew. (They will probably pass anyway.)

13. Parking close to doors for equipment vehicles would be appreciated. Not being blocked in after the production would also be appreciated.

14. Volunteer crews would appreciate offers of help to wrap out their equipment and enough clearance to get their equipment out.

15. Being informed of schedule changes would be appreciated.

16. It would be appreciated if equipment belonging to video crew and borrowed by other departments be returned.

17. A "thank you" would be greatly appreciated.

I recommend that if the lighting compromises are not followed during a video taped stage performance, that the video crew walk out and spend their time doing something less frustrating.

Sorry that this is such a negative opinion, but I have found the same problems over and over with shooting stage productions in Santa Barbara and elsewhere as a volunteer supplying my time, experience and equipment.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.