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When is promotional or B-roll footage of shows filmed?

Josh2
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The clips of shows that can be seen on YouTube or television when a show comes out, when are those filmed? During previews?

Is it just those specific scenes that are filmed, or do full recordings of these shows exist? If so, why don’t we see more major releases like the Hamilton movie?

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Elegance101
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Traditionally, it's filmed near the end of previews, once the show is set.

It is specific moments or numbers that are filmed, not the entire show. It's mostly big production numbers, with some smaller stuff as needed.

A lot of shows are filmed in their entirety, but are specifically achieved in Lincoln Center's Library, which has very specific rules about who can watch it and when (plus can only be watched in person, at the library).

There are so many questions about releasing pro-shots, but money is the biggest factor in whether or not to shoot and release a show. The Hamilton movie (just the movie alone) cost $10 million to produce, something no other show could probably afford. Unions have very strict rules about filming the intellectual property of artists (as they should, IMO).

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 08:46 PM
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VotePeron
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Promotional b-roll for ads and TV are usually filmed, as Elegance 101 said, at the end of previews. The marketing team will strategically plan out a day of filming that consists of filming key moments from the show. Sometimes an entire live performance is filmed, but it is often just set-ups of specific moments/songs, never an entire run of the show.

Lincoln Center Archives are usually done at the very end of the original casts run, and I’ve actually been in attendance of a few! Usually it is 4 stagnant cameras, one in each section of the orchestra and center mezz. There’s as little frills to it as possible. It’s edited and placed in the archive, but if I’m not mistaken it takes a year or two to become available, maybe longer?
Josh2
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Interesting. So they'll literally tell the cast "ok, so we're performing x song, take it from the top" and then role the cameras? Or will the cast do a whole performance and the cameras will only be rolling at select times?

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 09:04 PM
Josh2
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Elegance101 said: "Traditionally, it's filmed near the end of previews, once the show is set.

It is specific moments or numbers that are filmed, not the entire show. It's mostly big production numbers, with some smaller stuff as needed.

A lot of shows are filmed in their entirety, but are specifically achieved in Lincoln Center's Library, which has very specific rules about who can watch it and when (plus can only be watched in person, at the library).

There are so many questions about releasing pro-shots, but money is the biggest factor in whether or not to shoot and release a show. The Hamilton movie (just the movie alone) cost $10 million to produce, something no other show could probably afford. Unions have very strict rules about filming the intellectual property of artists (as they should, IMO).
"

Interesting. So they'll literally tell the cast "ok, so we're performing x song, take it from the top" and then role the cameras? Or will the cast do a whole performance and the cameras will only be rolling at select times?

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Elegance101
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The cast will come in during the day before a show (although maybe some have done it on a day off?), for both "photo call" (taking still promotional photos, some being posed and others being actually candid of them performing) and for B Roll. As to how they stage it, it's the former: only performing specific moments and usually doing them a few times to get it right or to get some options (similarly to film!).

cliffordbradshaw2
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"Set-ups" is a term I've heard used for when actors come in to perform specifically chosen scenes, to be shot without an audience present.  But this applies primarily to straight plays; very rarely do they do set-ups for musicals.  Musicals are generally shot live in performance, about a week prior to opening night and a few days before press arrives.  And some straight plays get shot in performance as well.

 

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A friend of a friend films Broadway shows for B-rolls and commercials and, yes, he DOES shoot the entire show so that he can review it for likely clips. I know this for a fact because I have seen the filmed shows. They are not by any stretch of the imagination suitable for broadcast, but are filmed with hand-held recorders often blocked by the head of the patron in front. (Some of the worst YouTube videos come from such a source.)

Once the photographer has chosen clips and gotten them approved by the producers (I presume), then the procedures listed above come into play.

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GavestonPS said: "A friend of a friend films Broadway shows for B-rolls and commercials and, yes, he DOES shoot the entire show so that he can review it for likely clips. I know this for a fact because I have seen the filmed shows. They are not by any stretch of the imagination suitable for broadcast, but are filmed with hand-held recorders often blocked by the head of the patron in front. (Some of the worst YouTube videos come from such a source.)

Once the photographer has chosen clips and gotten them approved by the producers (I presume), then the procedures listed above come into play.
"

I'm not sure what your friend of a friend does, but it's not shooting professional b-roll for broadway shows. B roll is rarely shot handheld and there are never heads in the way.  By definition b-roll is suitable for broadcast - that's it's primary purpose (although nowadays more people probably see b-roll online than on TV.) 

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As usual, there are a lot of people posting who have no idea what they are talking about and also as usual, there are no rules. I'll just add that a b-roll (in the theatre, there is a different meaning in tv and film) is the product, not the process, and a photographer has no part in deciding content. It is a creature of the ad agency, the publicist, and the producer (depending on the producer and the show).

Sampatches
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It’s a very long day and can almost feel like doing two shows. The musical I was working on most recently split production photos and b-roll up over two days, about a week or so before opening night. And right before a 5 show weekend because they were evil wink

 Here’s basically what my day looked like:

11am - Wardrobe called for costume prep
12:30 - Actors called, 1 hour to get into costumes/hmu.
1:30-4:45 - Actors onstage for the shot list. Run numbers and stage scenes as needed multiple times 
4:45 - Actors out of costume/hmu
5 - Dinner break until evening show call at 6pm

Updated On: 7/10/20 at 02:46 AM
LegallyBroadway2
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GavestonPS... your friend certainly does not film Broadway b-roll with a handheld camera with heads in the way. Also, your friend absolutely does not film the entire show. 

Sampatches schedule is a model B-Roll day. 

During previews, the crew is in the theatre at 8am for technical notes. The cast comes in later to implement changes to the show. One or two of these days, close to Opening, is dedicated to photography and video shoots. 

The director and producers and marketing teams choose which scenes to shoot. You only have about four or fiveish hours. Songs are run multiple times, often out of show order. 

The show is never filmed completely. 

Hit shows like Waitress will film more commercials and new scenes over the years for updated marketing needs. It is expensive to do this, so most shows just rely on what they got that first time during previews. 

Some shows might have stationary cameras set up during actual performances, but this is rare. Often, they're filming audience reaction shots. 

Shows are rarely rarely rarely filmed in their entirety. 

cmorrow
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Lincoln Center Archives are usually done at the very end of the original casts run, and I’ve actually been in attendance of a few! Usually it is 4 stagnant cameras, one in each section of the orchestra and center mezz. There’s as little frills to it as possible. It’s edited and placed in the archive, but if I’m not mistaken it takes a year or two to become available, maybe longer?"

 

I work at the Performing Arts Library, with the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT). There are several errors in this post. First, although every effort is made to tape a show while the original cast is still in it, there have been occasions, especially in TOFT's early years, when some members of the opening night cast had already departed. In more recent years, the shows are usually taped early in the run. But there is no set time when a show is taped, it varies a great deal.

Where "stagnant" cameras are concerned: only one camera is locked down. The others have operators who pan, zoom, and move with the actors. Next, most of the time no post-edit whatsoever is required; the plays are edited live, as they happen. And in most cases, the videos are available to view immediately after a show has closed, literally the next day. (In some cases, a viewing restriction might be placed on a particular show, when a member of the creative team chooses to do so.) In the early days there was a waiting period of several years to view a tape after a show closed, but that hasn't been the case since the 1980s.

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For those curious ones still confused what a B-Roll is, here is the one made for the 2015 Broadway Revival of ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY:

 

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Most musicals are shot with a dedicated call, but not always. Sometimes you edit from a combo of set-ups and candid footage from actual performances. Also, a performance can be recorded in its entirety, but an outlet cannot use more than 15 minutes of footage without concessions. 

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
BCfitasafiddle
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Smaxie said: "Most musicals are shot with a dedicated call, but not always. Sometimes you edit froma combo of set-ups and candid footage from actual performances. Also, a performance can be recorded in its entirety, but an outlet cannot use more than 15 minutes of footage without concessions."

I seem to have gotten tickets to B-Roll performances a few times. Last year I sat next to a blocked off section of seats at Tootsie for camera space. No noises or distractions which was nice. Same for The Band's Visit. 

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BCfitasafiddle said: "Smaxie said: "Most musicals are shot with a dedicated call, but not always. Sometimes you edit froma combo of set-ups and candid footage from actual performances. Also, a performance can be recorded in its entirety, but an outlet cannot use more than 15 minutes of footage without concessions."

I seem to have gotten tickets to B-Roll performances a few times. Last year I sat next to a blocked off section of seats at Tootsie for camera space. No noises or distractions which was nice. Same for The Band's Visit.
"

When I worked front of house on Broadway, every show (at my theater) seemed to record their b-roll during an actual performance. But these were mostly plays, and none really needed any stylized shots. But there were a few musicals that also shot during a performance. However, I did notice some angles in a few ads for one of the musicals that would not be possible, so I don't discount filming earlier in the day, but most appeared to be setting up as people arrived for the evening show.

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It's common for shows to do production photos and sometimes broll during invited dress too. Easier to block off seats and you won't have paying audiences complaining about photographers walking around or getting up on ladders.

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GavestonPS said: "A friend of a friend films Broadway shows for B-rolls and commercials and, yes, he DOES shoot the entire show so that he can review it for likely clips. I know this for a fact because I have seen the filmed shows. They are not ... suitable for broadcast, but are filmed with hand-held recorders often blocked by the head of the patron in front. (Some of the worst YouTube videos come from such a source.)

Once the photographer has chosen clips and gotten them approved by the producers (I presume), then the procedures listed above come into play.
"

I'm quoting myself because suddenly English is no longer my first language. I'm trying to bold the passages some found so confusing. (It wasn't just one reader, so the problem is probably mine.)

I never said he shot the entire show and then used excerpts of that footage as the B-roll. I said he shot a rough copy (with a hand-held camera) as part of his preparation; it's a reference tool so he can identify possible segments to shoot. Later, in collaboration with the producers (and, yes, ad reps, market people, etc.) he THEN shoots the B-roll, etc., as needed and with broadcast-quality film and sound. (Hogan is right that the final decision of what to include in the B-roll isn't the photographer's; but he has made a career of this and his opinion of what will look and sound good on film is often solicited.)

Are we all clear now? My only quarrel with what had been previously posted was that a record--however crappy--of the entire show (except for heads in the way, neighbors talking, etc.) is made by at least this one photographer. I know it's illegal (or at least against union regs) for him to share it with my friends and me, but I've seen a variety of shows in that form over the past 20 years. No, it never kept me from buying a ticket to an actual production; as I said, the quality is barely representative of a live performance.

ETA JESUS CHRIST ON A CRACKER, you people are cranky! After all the years I've posted here it took four posters to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about?! As it turns out, I do. Even a cursory second reading might have revealed as much.

Updated On: 7/12/20 at 11:37 PM