Working with a Video Camera

A great way to improve your show is by filming rehearsals and live performances. Your video camera is your best friend because it helps you see your show the way others see it. 

Whenever I’m working on a new routine I always rehearse it in front of a camcorder first. I use three different types of camcorders to record; a webcam, my cell phone, and a camcorder.

1. Webcam
I’ll usually film rehearsals with my webcam if I’m looking to quickly share my video with someone else for review. With a webcam and Youtube you can go to the upload page and click “webcam capture record” and record directly from your webcam.


Once you are finished you just click save and your video will instantly be saved onto youtube without any extra uploading. The one drawback of working with the webcam is that because the lens is designed for a video chatting the viewing angle isn’t very wide so it can be difficult to get everything into frame. But if you stand back far enough from the camera you should be able to get everything to fit into frame.

The footage quality on my webcam isn’t the greatest but there are full HD camcorders available on the market now.

Here’s some footage I recorded with my webcam:

2. Cell Phone Camera
I’ll use my iPhone camera  to rehearsal material when I’m not in front of my computer. The thing that’s nice about the iPhone is that its easy to watch and replay footage immediately. It’s also easy to upload online, or transfer onto the computer. Because each clip is saved to a new file it also makes it easy to delete bad takes and just keep the ones you need.

Here’s some footage I recorded on my iPhone:

3. Camcorder
I don’t often use my camcorder for rehearsal because I have to capture all the footage from the MiniDV tape onto the computer which takes a long time. Its easier instead to use the webcam or my iPhone instead.

Instead I use my camcorder to film live shows with a tripod at the back of the venue.

Unlisted Uploads to Youtube

I upload entire full length shows and rehearsal footage to youtube so that other magicians and directors can critique it for me. But I don’t want this footage to be public so instead I upload them as an “unlisted” video instead. An unlisted video means that anyone with the link can view the video but it won’t appear in my public channel or in the regular search results.

unlisted to youtube

Camera rehearsal tips:

  1. One technique that I’ve stumbled across is to go back and watch old performance footage. If you film your show and watch it that same day you’ll remember every detail about the show and you won’t be able to separate your internal reality from the footage you’re watching. By watching old footage you’ll forget what you were thinking and you’ll be able to see the show more closely as the audience experienced it.
  2. Save your footage so you can go back to review it. I’ve recorded lots of different ideas that I’ve found useful later on.
  3. Watching yourself on video is a painful experience, but keep doing it over and over again and your act will improve because of it.
  4. Take chances while rehearsing on camera. Its a safe environment to try out different ideas before you get in front of an audience.

I’ve talk with lots of performers that don’t have ANY performance or rehearsal footage AT ALL!! How can you possibly tell if the material is any good if you’ve never seen it yourself?!? In this article I’ve shown that you don’t need anything fancy to get started. Even if you don’t have a camcorder, you can start recording with your cell phone camera, the webcam on your laptop, or a cheap external webcam.

Share a link to your rehearsal footage in the comments below!