If you are any kind of performer (or indeed, speaker, presenter, MC, or anything involving doing things in front of an audience), I am a huge, huge proponent of videoing every one of your performances you possibly can. There are several reasons for this.
In approximate order of significance:
1) So that you can watch it back and see what to improve
Assuming you want to improve over time, videoing and reviewing yourself regularly is arguably the single most important thing you can possibly do.
How can you possibly expect to improve something you can’t even see? When you sit down and watch back your performance, giving it your full attention, you will notice a hundred tiny details you never would have imagined without the video to watch.
Even if you don’t watch back every single show, the more frequently you do it the faster your performances will improve.
2) To record the ad-libs
In any given show, there is the possibility that you will spontaneously come up with a line, response, gesture, moment, or something else that works really well. Whether it’s a funny comeback to something, or just a really good way of expressing a point, good ad-libs happen.
While you will sometimes be able to remember them after the show and make a note of them, it’s far more likely that you’ll have forgotten the details once you leave the stage. If you have the show on video, you can track straight back to see exactly what you did, and how to replicate it next time.
3) To capture the amazing moments
Similar to the above point, but for all the other kinds of things that can (and will) happen in a show. Serendipitous coincidences,
Whether you want to watch the moment back yourself, show it to your friends, put it on Youtube, send it to CNN, or just study what happened and work out how to replicate it again, having those incredible one-in-a-million moments recorded is a wonderful thing.
If you only video your show occasionally, you will rarely get them on camera. If you video every show, you will always catch them.
4) To autopsy the terrible moments
Things also go unexpectedly wrong. Whether it’s you making a mistake, or just a freak coincidence working against you. Regardless of whether you handle the situation well or badly, it’s good to be able to watch it back in a stress-free situation later, see exactly what happened, and work out how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
5) For the occasional perfect promotional shot
You never know when you’re going to nail that perfect show. The one where you’re in the zone, the audience is right there with you, and everything just flows perfectly. It’s a well known facet of Murphy’s law that you will probably NOT do that perfect show the night you hire the professional video team to record for you.
Mediocre quality video of an amazing show can be often be better than perfect quality video of a mediocre show.
- - -
There are other benefits (eg: someone I know was once saved from a potentially severe - and unfounded - lawsuit due to having the entire incident on video at his show), but the above points are the main ones that I always think about.
For the sake of full disclosure, I do not video every single show I do. Sometimes it’s too short notice, too much hassle, or I forget to charge the camera (or I forgot to bring the camera), or any number of other reasons. I'm human. I don't always follow my own principles.
But whenever I miss recording a show, it bugs me. Because that is one more show that I’m missing out on all of the above benefits. And then I make damn sure that I get back to videoing every show I possibly can.
Next post: What Happens Backstage…. Goes on YouTube »
« Previous post: Just Make It Exist