Opinions Sought on Show Venue Camera Policy
OK, so here's the situation...
I'm a big fan of the Fox network summertime dance competition show "So You Think You Can Dance." I actually was aware of the show its first two seasons, but because the theme music sounded like RAP, sung by some deep-voiced rap-sounding man, I never checked it out. Then, finally, just before Season 3 started, I was watching another show on Fox and saw an actual COMMERCIAL for the show and was BLOWN AWAY to see that RAP plays only a very SMALL PART on the show (and I've actually come to appreciate GOOD rap more than I ever did, in the process). They have all styles of dance: rap, of course, but also all the ballroom styles: waltz, tangos, quickstep, jive, etc., "contemporary" (which is sort of an outgrowth of ballet, sort of, although there's also "contemporary ballet"), regular ballet, jazz, BOLLYWOOD since "Slumdog Millionaire" won Best Picture (I wish they'd DROP that style), and a few others...
They spend several episodes showing auditions in several cities where close to 200 contestants get tickets for "call backs" (used to be in Vegas, but was in L.A. this year), where they winnow them down to a Top 20. Then "the real" show begins. Each week each couple (they're paired off on the first show) dances a different routine choreographed by a different choreographer (some of the best in the business -- SEVERAL Emmys won from choreography on this show), and then 2 are eliminated -- occasionally 4, if for time restraints, based on low votes from fans who vote online, and what the judges think.
Once it gets down to the Top 10 (and they just started doing this on Season 8 -- this is Season 11), each of the Top 10 and counting is paired with an "All-Star" dancer, someone who was in the Top 10, including some winners, from prior seasons -- they had last year's winner and the Season 7 winner on last night, and the contestants REALLY have to bring their level UP to match that of the All-Stars, who've had more time to master their craft since they show ended and they ALSO did a grinding tour...
Contestants are eliminated, 2 per week, solely on low audience votes from this point forward, until you get to the Top 4, and then there's a DANCE OFF. The last two years they crowned 2 winners -- male and female. All other years there was just one, and they're going back to that format this year. The winner gets $250,000 (they had to split that the last 2 years), plus some other promotional stuff -- magazine cover, or something.
This year, they're planning the biggest tour ever, hitting 70 cities from Oct. 1 -- Feb. 12 (month off from Dec. 19 -- Jan. 22....
ANYWAY... all the stuff above was just EXTRANEOUS to fill you in on WHAT IT IS I want to see... The tour includes best bits from the shows, PLUS sometimes a few NEW routines. I went to see the Season 4, 7 and 8 tours in Charlotte at the Time Warner Cable Arena, which is a HUGE venue capable of seating maybe 10-15,000 people. While it was never PACKED, it easily had 5,000 -- 7,000 people at every show, and I NEVER had any trouble getting my camera in. Season 8 was the FIRST TIME I had a DSLR, and they DID have a rule about "long lenses," but I had my 55-300, and I just kept it at the short length and that seemed to mollify them that it wasn't too long. They said something about lenses not being longer than 6". Of course when I was shooting, once the show was on, I racked it out to 300 A LOT, which made it way longer than that, but as I didn't bother anyone and never used flash, nobody bothered me (VIDEO WAS ALWAYS A DEFINITE NO-NO).
Well, for Season 9 the only area show was in Columbia's Township Auditorium, and they had information RIGHT ON THEIR WEBPAGE that said "no cameras," so I said, "Thanks, but No Thanks." LAST YEAR the show was in Greenville's Peace Center for the Performing Arts (closest ever to me -- only 30 miles away). Nothing on the website or ticket ordering about cameras, so I ordered my ticket, only to have PRINTED ON THE TICKET: NO CAMERAS! I was dejected, but I went, anyway. Show was A MAJOR LETDOWN, camera or not. Auditorium was way too small -- packed house, but still probably less than 2,000 people. Stage was way too small to properly do their dance routines -- when a dancer had to be offstage and out of view, waiting to come in, you could still see them because there just wasn't enough room.
So THIS YEAR the list of cities just came out, and Township and Peace Center BOTH have it, but ALSO Charlotte again, but it's in the Belk Theater at the Blumenthal Arts Center (about a block from the MUCH LARGER Time Warner Cable Arena. So, I spent an hour or so LAST NIGHT perusing that website looking for ANY INFORMATION about cameras at shows -- even did a search on "camera" and "photo" and "photography" and they all came up blank. So I finally did an email query form to them, giving them my HISTORY about being able to shoot photos at the three shows at Time Warner, skipping Township because it expressly forbid them, and then discovering too late I couldn't shoot at Peace Center and it being a let down. I asked if I can shoot NON-FLASH photos during the show with a camera with a silent shutter (well, K-3 is PRETTY silent if you turn off all sounds), so long as I don't bother anyone else (by the way, they have a picture of that theater and it looks like an opera house -- mezanines and box seats on levels 2, 3 and 4!).
Here's the reply I got back today...
I received your inquiry about photography in Belk Theater for the Nov. 10 performance of So You Think You Can Dance. We make decisions regarding photography on a show-by-show basis as that policy is typically handed down by each production. With that said, I have pasted the language submitted to us directly from the production team for SYTYCD.
“No audio recording, video filming, long lens photography or laser pointers will be allowed in the audience during the show. All efforts must be made to prevent professional video cameras, professional audio recorders, or long lens cameras being taken into the theater. Small fixed lens cameras and camera phones are acceptable; however anyone repeatedly using a flash in the audience should be dissuaded from doing so. All authorized photography (media) will be restricted to the front of house area during the FIRST 2 DANCES ONLY, using no flash. After this, security should escort all photographers from the front of house.”
Based on that, I believe you are safe to bring in a small digital camera and not use the flash. I hope this helps!
Soooooooo, here's my REAL QUESTION, after all my rambling above -- MANY THANKS to anyone who's followed me this far: What the policy in quotes above APPEARS TO SAY is that all they'll really authorize is point-and-shoot cameras or camera phones (even though SOME of the newest camera phones, like one Nokia, are 43 MP and can therefore essentially ACT like a long lens). Well, the ONLY P&S camera I have is my Pentax WG3 which I bought over a year ago on sale through Good Morning America, and it's still in the box. I still have my "bridge" cameras, but I REALLY want APS-C quality, and would like to use my K-3. "Fixed lens" seems to be the terminology of choice for this. I don't think that means the lens has to be non-removable, but rather that it's a short "prime," rather than a zoom with a long range...
HOWEVER, if you folks even halfway know me, you know I want some zoom capability. I just checked out my Sigma 18-250 F 3.5-6.3, which is a "bit" long, but only a few inches, and it has a LOCK button on it which can be engaged when it's at the short, 18 mm focal length, making it where it WON'T zoom. MOST of the security personnel at these events AREN'T savvy enough to know a great deal about cameras, so if they try to zoom a lens and it won't zoom, and then they look through it and see a wide-angle, and I say, "I just want to get wide shots of the whole stage," I don't think they'll know any better. It's usually dark (will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 10 when the gates open for this tour, for sure).
Soooooooo, whaddaya think? Do ya think I can get away with a K-3 with the Sigma 18-250 on it? Some of you have this lens. I know YOU do, Ron. I wonder if the size of the CAMERA would be an issue. NONE of my DSLR cameras are really small except the mirrorless K-01 I recently purchased like-new from a kind forum member, but I'd still prefer to use the K-3, if I can. As for the lens, I could always have a smaller lens with me, just in case... maybe that plastic fantastic 50 mm F 1.8, or the 100 mm F 2.8 Macro (although it might be too whiney). I also have my EXCELLENT 1990s 135mm F 2.8 AF lens that always took GREAT pics. I used it just a bit with my K-5 when I first bought it, and it still worked like a champ. And it's no longer, perhaps even a bit shorter than the 100 mm Macro.
Tickets go on sale in about a week, and if I'm going to buy one, I can get them pre-sale through the SYTYCD website and possibly get a good seat. But if I DON'T think I can get decent photos I just won't go. Last year felt like a waste of my time -- and that stupid Peace Center has NO parking. I had to park in the hotel garage parking lot across the street, and it was $13 to exit! -- in GREENVILLE SC, NO LESS! For those of you who live in BIG CITIES up north, that may not seem too high, but it's OUTRAGEOUS HERE. In Charlotte, the three times I went to Time Warner Center, two of those times I parked in a covered, secured garage half a block down and across the street -- $10. The third time, that garage was full and I had to park in a regular outdoor parking lot a block further -- had guards patrolling it -- $5. That hotel parking in Greenville was HIGHWAY ROBBERY!
Anyway... thoughts on my chances with the K-3 and the Sigma 18-250 with it LOCKED at 18 mm until I get settled? Thoughts on other configurations I might try. Yeah, I KNOW there is now at least ONE Sony APS-C fixed-lens or bridge camera, but I'm NOT spending all that money just for a tour event!
Thanks in advance!
A word is worth 1/1000th of a picture... Maybe that's why I use so many words!
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