Film a live event like a professional

TED Talks are known as the standard for filming conferences around the world. Its where some of the best speakers in the world come together to share their stories on fascinating subjects. While TED and TEDx events have reinvented the standard for a great presentation, the events also demonstrate how an event should be filmed. TED Talks have big sponsors, but what if you don’t have a huge production budget? Below are some guidelines which will improve any event filming.

Work with what you’ve got – visit the venue ahead of time

A TED Talks event will have the advantage of being filmed at a venue which has the right audio/video infrastructure in place. However, not all event spaces are created equal. You may find that the location to film an event is in a hotel conference room with little atmosphere. Making matters worse the room has terrible light and is uninspiring. Visit the venue ahead of schedule to get an idea of the space. If you can’t visit the venue before the event, see if you can get a photo from a previous event. Preparation is key and its important to know what you will be working with before any live event filming takes place.

Audio recording needs to be a priority

Recording clean audio is one of those things that just needs to be right at any live event filming. It may in fact be the most important items. In almost all cases, a viewer will likely click away from any video they cannot hear. While a Ted Talks event will have some of the best audio equipment, below are a few options that will enable you to record great audio.

Option 1 – Sound mixer – connect using a XLR cable

Most professional video cameras will be able to connect to a sound mixer using a XLR cable. If your camera does not have XLR connectivity, the problem can be solved by connecting an audio adapter such as the Sound Devices MixPre-3 II , Zoom F6, or Zoom H6.  Audio captured from a speaker’s lapel or handheld microphone can then be fed directly from the sound mixer to a video camera.

Option 2 – Recording sound from a wireless microphone directly to a video camerat

In the event that the event does not have a sound mixer, audio can be captured from a wireless lapel microphone. The wireless microphone receiver can feed audio directly into a video camera with a microphone input. Try fitting a video camera with an audio adapter into any of the devices mentioned above. Monitoring audio as it is recorded is equally important. The devices below will let you listen in with a pair of headphones. This is an essential process in any live event filming.

Option 3 – Recording audio directly to a smartphone or iPhone

If production budgets are really tight, great audio can still be recorded from any speaker to a smartphone. RØDE is one of many companies that has created a lapel microphone for smartphones called the smartLav+ which will work on both iOS and Android devices. For those looking for broadcast premium audio, Sennheiser has created a lapel microphone specifically for iPhones called the ClipMic digital. This lapel mic will capture broadcast-quality audio.

Audio recorded separate from video can automatically be synced up in post-production using a tool such as RedGiant’s Plural Eyes.

Red Giant – Plural Eyes

A TED Talk may use 3 or more cameras to film an event to mix up shots making for a more pleasurable viewing experience. For production teams working with fewer cameras, it’s still possible to get away with some really great shots using a two-camera or even a one-camera set-up. Below are some options for your consideration.

One camera set-up

Events can be filmed with one camera, but its important to understand the limitations. If the presenter is presenting with a large screen, it won’t be possible to film a close-up of a presenter and wide shot of the entire stage area without playing around with the zoom. The process can get a bit messy if not handled with care. Consider the following if you want to avoid potentially messy zooming:

  • Compromise by filming the presenter as a mid shot ( Stage area with medium shot of the presenter ). Afterwards, slides can be added in during the post-production process.

Alternatively

  • Film a wide shot that captures both the presenter and slide deck using a camera that can record in 4K or higher. During the editing process, the post-production team can then crop footage of the presenter where needed. If the project is being output in 1080p, there will be some room for editors to crop footage without a massive reduction in quality.

Two camera set-up

This type of camera set-up will go a long way in making any recorded video look more dynamic. The primary camera can film a close-up shot of the presenter that includes the head and shoulders. The secondary camera can be placed at the back of the venue to capture a wide shot of the audience, presenter, and slide deck (if one is in use). In post-production, the two different vantage points will offer more editing options.

Three camera set-up

A three camera set-up can include one extra camera to film audience reactions in addition to a close and wide shot.

Bringing all of the footage together

The only drawback of using multiple cameras is that the post-production effort will often take longer with more footage needed for review. The editing team will need a tool such as Redgiant’s Plural Eyes or need to set-up matching timecodes on each camera so all audio and video feeds can be synchronised in post-production. Attempting to manually sync up recorded footage is less than ideal.

Best of luck with your video project

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