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I recently watched a video of Led Zeppelin in 1973 and it dawned on me that these were shot on film, and as a film photography hobbyist it dawned on me that the picture quality for handheld film at a low-light concert is pretty good, or at least significantly better than what I could accomplish with my 35mm SLR. How was it done? Was it shot at some insane aperture like f/1.0, did they use special film, or was the stage brighter than what I'm expecting?

Video in question:

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I was an assistant editor on Song Remains the Same. I think the fast lens answer is probably correct and I think the stage was lit a lot more than you would think. It was shot multi camera at MSG and single camera on the other material. To my knowledge there was no special stock used but it may have been pushed in the labs.

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Multiple possibilities, many of them you have mentioned. I believe the most likely is that the person who filmed this used a "fast lens", meaning a lens that lets in lots of light. If you want to know more about the process of filming in low-light conditions on film, you can check out documentaries on Barry Lyndon by Kubrick.

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