More than JUST a wide Shot It's one thing to film your show, something we have invested a lot of time, experience and money into to get it as good as we do, but it's another to edit it in an entertaining way. It's surprising just how many school principals think that just setting up a back camera shot and leaving it to film the show is enough. After all this is how we watch a show live, isn't it? Actually, no its not how we watch a live show, let me explain....
When we sit in the audience and watch a dance show live on the stage, our eyes fix on certain points of the action. If there is just one person on stage, then they are fixed on them. If its a full stage, then our eyes actually dart about the stage looking for your little girl, then we take in the whole scene, then what is that person doing over there, your girl again (isn't she cute), then the performer doing flips on the other side of the stage catches your attention.... and so on.
Creativity in the Shots In fact, our eyes dart about in such a fast, chaotic way that if we tried to replicate that on TV we'd we seasick after just a minute of trying to watch it! However, just a still back shot of the entire stage doesn't really work well on TV either, for one huge reason, the screen is too small and too low in resolution for you to pick out the action on stage in the same way as a real life full size event! After a very short while, a static back shot is very boring.
So to get round this and to try and bring up the TV viewing pleasure to match anything like the experience you'd get at the "live" event, we have to be creative in the editing. Using multiple cameras is the only way to do this. The trick is to try and simulate what you would look at naturally on the stage at any given time. If a performer is about to do a trick, its no good showing a closeup of a dancer elsewhere as you want to see the trick! Alternatively, if there is some great choreography you want to see it a little longer on wide, or at least enough of it to get a mental picture of what is happening so that the closeup doesn't jar you from the experience. Its all in where the editor makes the cuts and which cameras they cut to! You shouldn't notice half of the work a good editor does.
Faces are everything One of the things that make a great dance show video is to be able to see faces. The wide shot is great at establishing the scene, to show off the choreography, but faces are tiny and its hard to make out much detail. It's the faces that people identify with and what makes the whole TV experience more personal. This is one of the reasons good lighting is essential to a good DVD, to see faces, identify the emotion of the performers, to recognise the people you know and enrich your viewing experience. This is what the close up shots bring you, and the wide shot cannot give you.
It's not all good
Unfortunately there are down sides as well as up from watching a dance show on TV. First is you are at the mercy of the video editor what appears on screen. You may want to see your child more of the time, but the DVD may only show closeups of her a couple of times? With so many children, it's the editors job to try and give every child equal closeup time, and this can be a little disappointing for some, especially if their child is just a backup dancer and others are taking much more of the limelight.
If things are happening at different sides of the stage, a closeup may need to be shown but which side does the editor show? Whichever side is shown there are going to be viewers wishing it was the other because that is where THEIR child is.
It's one of those things that you have to contend with though, as not everyone can be pleased all of the time and it's a matter of accepting what you get. Nobody wants just a plain old wide shot of the entire show with their child on view all the time, but small and unnoticeable, do they?
Closeups can distract from the choreography. A good editor can keep the flow moving so that viewers don't feel disconnected from the choreography for too long. But it IS inevitable that some of the choreography will be lost. If we're not careful though, instead of making a piece of entertaining video, we could end up making a dance routine training video, and we all know how boring they can be?
At the end of the day a dance show DVD is compromise. It is designed to ENTERTAIN the viewer over anything else, but it still needs to show off all the choreography that the teachers and pupils have worked so hard on, and it still needs to show close ups of all the individual performers in glorious detail. How well this happens depends on the Editor, how well the cameras are placed and how good the stage lighting. Then of course it depends on the show itself!