Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


For many years the only way to produce a two camera vision mixed shoot was to humph a load of gear into a hall 2-3 hours before the event and start rigging, the alternative is 2 cameras, tripods, monitors and two operators and post produce the shoot via multicam…that is till now…


I am experimenting with the Panasonic GH4’s capabilities while producing material for my user review, in this case utilising 4K. I have always had the idea that 4K material would be great for interviews but never crossed my mind that it would be any use for a live production like a children’s dance show.

Last evening I turned up to my friend Alister’s dance show recording, as usual he had a full rig, 2 SDI camcorders, talkback, vision mixer, multi screen, XDCAM EX-30 recorder…the lot.

I turn up with a GH4, 12-35mm f2.8 Lumix G lens and a tripod.


See what you think…I am rather amazed at the results especially the post produced pan shots.

Here is the trick, firstly don’t shoot at maximum aperture I was between f3.5-4 and the critical part of this shoot was focus, you can’t afford to be anything other than spot on, I would suggest using an external monitor to make sure you have focus, don’t shoot using anything other than manual focus, 4K is very unforgiving especially in crop mode.

I used a Lumix mic (DMW-MS2) for the experiment but would highly recommend the Tascam DR60 (£200) as you have the option to use 2 phantom powered XLR microphones and record to SD card as a safety backup.

Finally the show lasted 2 hours so two 64G cards would give you 2h 40m, the saving in labour both in humphing a lot of gear up one flight of stairs and the wages for a second cameraperson would be enough to persuade me this is the way forward for children’s theatre shows, plus filming it this way takes out any fear of missing something off camera.

What about the workflow…The 4K file needs rendering on my 1080 25p timeline but I am still using a full spec iMac, having a MacPro would certainly speed the process up considerably. The one minute edit…time wise, compared to having two streams of 1080p footage on top of each other and cutting away the unwanted footage.

I dont film domestic jobs like dance shows so I can’t take this experiment any further but if you want to save a lot of effort producing a 2 camera event this must be a serious option.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

19 thoughts on “The 4K Experiment…Can 1 camera do the job of 2

  1. Personally I feel zooming in post as a substitute for a second camera is a cheat. It says the production company can only afford a single camera. A genuine two camera perspective is better and shows a more seasoned view of the craft. But in a day and age when sDOF takes precedence, is anyone surprised that we’re willing to sacrifice superior story telling to a trick of resolution?

    HDW : Les where does SDOF come into the equation, this was shot at f4 making sure it was not SDOF ! You have a strange perspective on what people think, its the end result that matters and if you are getting to a point in your career that humphing a ton of gear is no longer an option the 4K alternative works a treat.

  2. I actually considered doing this. I wasn’t sure if my thoughts were correct, but it appears it does EXACTLY as I expected it to do. This would work for events where speakers are at a podium and you want both the wide shot AND the close up while they speak. But when they reference a person near them instead of a one-camera zoom out, usually too late for the reaction, you can hard cut out to get the reaction shot. OR get that audience applause or standing ovation and get right back for the reaction of the speaker.

    Thanks for the demo!

    NOTE: The video was squeezed on my player into the 4:3 format instead of 16:9 but I got the idea.

    QUESTION: Are you editing on a Mac? If so, which one?

  3. thanks philip for your test, I wanted to know if I understand correctly, you filmed the show dancing with GH4 and then crop in post production you did in 1080 correct? greetings

    HDW : Filmed on the GH4 at 4K 25p .MOV 100Mbps, brought the footage into FCPX and edited onto a 1080 25p timeline using the 4k material in “FIT” mode (Constrain) as a wide shot and “NONE” to get the closer shots.

  4. Wow! Just what I wanted to see. This is exactly the material I shoot. GH4 = 2 x GH3. I have a GH3 and an AF100. I’ll be adding a GH4. Gerry in Calgary

  5. Wow! Awesome video!

    I shoot dance events with a single JVC GY-HM150… but I might have to rent a 4K camera for next year’s dance recital season.

    How did you do the panning in post? I’ve never done anything like that. I use Adobe Premiere CC.

  6. Just did a dance show with 2 camcorders. I think your suggestion only works for a short video, for a 2 hours shoot I would not bother doing it as it requires a lot of keyframings :). Also it is from the same angle. So yes it works but another camcorder several meters away would always give a more interesting shot. Anyway good idea.. 🙂

  7. UPDATE: The video played fine on my iPhone as of 10pm est. looks great too!

  8. The quality of what you have produced in HD is impeccable.

    I think it is an excellent alternative to the option of having two cameras set up side by side. I haven’t tried this as yet with our 4K camera.

    However I also think there is no real substitute for filming with two or more cameras set up at different angles for something like this, mainly because of the interest that different angles provide.

  9. Agree with others, for a short 1 minute highlight is ok. But a full dance recital would be boring to watch just 4K cropping. Plus for me the crop zoom wasn’t tight enough. I do think 4k like this along with another camera could work. I’ve used this technique many times with my sports highlights. 1080/60p on 720p timeline.

  10. Excellent video but am I the only one wondering about how appropriate the lyrics and dance moves are for these children?

  11. The result looks good.
    Did this add a lot of time in post relative to a standard multi-cam edit? What are the file sizes like? Seems like a lot of data for two hours of 4k, not to mention the need to change cards frequently during the event.

    HDW : 1h 20m of 4K from a 64G card…2 cards 1 show, FCPX took the 4K footage in as quickly as 1080 footage, bigger files but not massive.

  12. rofl No! I also thought the lyrics were off. But that’s on the dance studio to edit the music, not the video company.

  13. This why I got my FDR-AX1.Works great in combination with my NX5U and NX30U.The FDR-AX1 is about 2 stops slower than the NX5U but if one can shoot at around f4 with no more than 9db of gain then crop and pan are great. Focus is VERY critical.
    Edit with Edius Pro 7 on the PC. At 150Mbps XAVC-S for 60P it does require some effort to edit multicam with 3 other tracks of AVCHD native files.

  14. Well as an experiment, thanks….I think there are a lot of us who wondered about this.

    However, practically I think I could not take the risk of one camera. There is often only one chance to get the show, which is often very long. Two cameras provide the safety net …just incase.
    I’ve also had schools requesting specifically two angles.

    Thanks again.

  15. I do agree with this. There has been many an occasion when a second or a third camera has saved our bacon, particularly as two of our cameras use MiniDV tape which is not perfect by any means, and prone to drop outs from time to time.

  16. That’s a perfect approach for a news conference with multiple faces sitting at a table. When one talks, pan and zoom in post — brilliant!

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