I prefer to have a camera operator/videographer but this isn’t always possible (even when possible – an additional angle has benefits) and so sometimes positioning all available cameras/phones/etc has good results.
I want to share tips and pitfalls of multi camera editing
1) Positioning your devices has to make sense.
Otherwise you’re just running something for the sake of it.
What are you hoping these will pick up?
This also plays in to being aware of the cameras and what they are, and aren’t, picking up when you are filming.
2) An out of shot mobile phone close to the action can be a good audio source
Although the microphone on a phone will pick up more background noise than a good directional or shotgun mic.
But certainly, having additional audio sources can be a lifesaver.
3) Using the same devices will have consistent quality
A lot of multi-camera efforts I’ve seen have been from days when everyone has brought a camera, or a phone and there’s a hope to cover as much as possible with these.
Devices use different tech when translating colours and in what they pick up in their sensors. So two cameras recording the same thing can look differently. This can lead to inconsistencies in the edit, or, a lot more work to do with colour correction.
A lot of the really helpful plugins are also really expensive.
4) Your footage will be the quality of the lowest quality device
If you are using multiple devices, some will shoot different resolutions. If one camera is 4k and another is 1080, or even 720, then your final footage will need to be rendered at the lowest resolution of your devices. Otherwise it can look warped or stretched if you try to upscale it.
5) But shooting in 4k and rendering in 1080 can be good for zoom
If you have a 4k camera covering a wide shot, when you edit you can duplicate the shot and be “zoomed in” to parts of the footage without loss of quality.
The clips I shot with Cate McQueen which had close ups of her hand spanking my arse was done using this technique.
6) Make sure all devices are ready to use
Enough space on SD cards. Fresh batteries for any microphones. Devices fully charged. Spare batteries. Access to power supplies.
If a key camera cuts out mid footage you lose that from the remainder of the shot. Problems with microphones will affect the clips when you try to sync.
7) An audio spike helps cameras to sync (i.e. clapperboards)
A lot of editing software is really good for syncing to sound, but it has a much better time if there is an audio spike.
This can be done by turning all of the cameras on and then clapping (one firm hard clap should do it, you don’t have to pretend you’re in Enter Shikari) or use of a clapperboard. The advantage of a clapperboard is it’s easier to manually do a visual sync if the sound sync fails, as you can set the in point to when the board closes.
8) Don’t turn any of the cameras off and back on when rolling
If there is a need to cut, leave all the cameras on. If you turn one off and back on it’s now out of sync and will need a new point to sync onto.
It is much easier to just sync it all together and then cut out anything not needed all at once.
9) Make sure your computer can handle multi camera edits
If you’re running around minimum specs for the software, it can sometimes struggle in multi camera editing. The better your computer specs, the easier time you will have with this.
You can always try out shooting, well, anything – and trying it out for ease.
10) Ask if all this stress was worth it and is it better having a videographer instead?
I dunno. You tell me?
Hopefully some of this will help you decide if multi camera editing is for you.