Advice? Ideas anyone?


Hello everybody,

I was hoping someone here would be able to help me out with an idea I had. Basically, I want to start video taping rehearsals with a video camera but I want the video camera to be angled so I can get a bird's eye view of the entire stage. I would like to try this idea to get better blocking notes as of now, but I also have some other ideas.

My question for everyone is what kind of video camera would you suggest using? Is this even an idea worth trying or is it probably better to let it go? What are some of your guys' tricks and advice for taking really good blocking notes?

Anyways, thanks for your time everyone and if this has already been discussed I apologize.
The idea of video taping rehearsals is fine, and many LDs I know use them to cue the show without the actors present (high-tech dry-tech?), but I'm not sure how useful a bird's eye view is going to be. Most actors and director's don't understand "plan view" so you'd have to interpret what's on the video. We're not talking Busby Berkely here, right? When I used to stage manage, I would always base blocking notes on landmarks "crosses from 2' US of sofa to door DSR."

I do know a director who swore by pre-blocking his scenes on a 1/4" ground plan using pennies, which he said were the ideal size of an actor. But since we're most likely talking about proscenium theatre here, the picture the audience sees is way more important than what the grid sees. If you're using the notes to put in a replacement cast member, you're not going to be "directing" from a bird's eye view, most likely you're going to be in the house.

Hope this helps. Just my 2¢.
Since it's only for blocking notes, and since I'm interpreting "Birds eye View" as a view 14 or 16 feet in the air <orthographic> as opposed to a straight down view < planview>, I'd say find yourself a standard security camera mount and use it to mount any old camcorder out it the house, either from an FOH posistion< proscenium> or right to the grid <blackbox>. Now if you are going digital and want to record onto your laptop, check out the posts on here relating to "Video monitoring" of the stage. There have been several cameras and strategies discussed in the last few months.
Just as an aside, this is not a permissable activity in an Equity house. Recording of rehearsals or performances, without an expressed agreement between all parties,Equity, and the publishers of the play is strictly forbidden. That's my $.02 worth of Lawyering.
I am deeply hurt avkid. While I am pleased to be considered old (I've earned it by living) grumpy is not on.
Me ? Grumpy ? Oh well Ok. sometimes. But I consider it "Gruff but Loavable".:mrgreen:
"Gruff but loathe-able"?
Having claimed to be not grumpy as a playwright I am now going to buy in. Tapeing copyright works can be considered an infringement of copyright unless permission is received before hand. Obviously intended use of the tape locks in as fairdealing may be applicable if it is to be used as you describe and not copied and sold. or even copied and given away.
Logos has a very valid point. Also, though I gather from your profile that you are a student, but video taping rehearsals or performances is strictly against AEA rules the only exceptions being for archival purposes only after the AEA cast members vote on it and 24 hour notice is given, or if it is for marketing purposes (in which case there are many other rules). There are similar rules that extend to still photography as well. This even includes AEA cast members taking pictures for themselves.

Because of this, it may behoove you to get used to taking blocking without a recording because in general (though Derek seems to be an exception) in the professional world you won't have the luxury of video. This of course doesn't even touch on the copyright issues that Logos brings up.

Having taken all that into consideration, you might want to utilize your ASMs if you have them, or get one of you don't. Then you can delegate things like taking down blocking, so that you can concentrate on the rest of rehearsal. Then you have one person who is dedicated to just taking blocking notes, and if you take them to, you can compare, but it frees you so that if something comes up, you don't miss any.

If you are going to go ahead with the camera idea, there are lots of things you need to think about. If you are just recording to tape, you have to put the camera someplace you can easily get to. If you are going to run it to an external tape deck then you need to put it someplace that you can run all the needed cabling to. After that, you may want to refer to Van's post.
I think it's far more important for you to develop your skills at taking blocking notes and forget the camera. Assuming you are a student here... As has been discussed there are a lot of rules that this potentially breaks so you aren't going to have the luxury once you get out in the real world. So take the time now to develop good skills and it won't be a problem.

As for tricks... go hang out on SM network is a great tip.

I suggest you photo copy the entire script one sided. Then photocopy a sketch of the ground plan on the back of every page. Three hole punch and now for every page you have the back of the previous page on the left to take notes on. Beyond that learn good SM shorthand. There are several good books out there about stage management that will help you and again SM network is a good source. In large cast situations where it's hard to keep up. Only write down actor blocking that changes then go back and fill in the people who are still standing in the same place.
I think it was the "naked" that bothered him, come to think of it it bothers me. Yuck.

Read my plays, please.
I think it was the "naked" that bothered him, come to think of it it bothers me. Yuck.

Read my plays, please.

No, it was the "self plugging" to be honest. :twisted:
Yeah well, lets move right along folks, nothing to see here.
Hey everybody,

Thanks so much for all your input. Yes, I am a student and have a lot to learn. Thanks to everyone for the legal details I am a bit new to this and I didn't even think about the legal consequences.

Just to let everyone know I found a great video camera and am now working on making a custom mount on a zip line. I am not bad at taking blocking notes and they are setup like Logos described but there are scenes where about 30 people rush on stage that I was hoping I could record.

However, I think I probably will stay away from this idea since I am probably getting myself into more trouble if I did use it, but I am curious on just testing it out when I finish making the mount.

Thanks again everyone...

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