Film a live event like a professional

Event Filming with one or two cameras

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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How do you prepare for a video shoot including live-streamed broadcasts?

What clothing should I wear for a film or video shoot

It is time to think about your upcoming film shoot, but you are not sure what to wear. To keep you focussed on the filming, below are some tips on what someone can do to better prepare for being in front of a camera.

Groomed hair

To avoid awkward fidgeting and face touching, make sure hair is kept out of the face. The focus should be on what the interviewee is saying, not on hair adjustments. Bring along your comb or brush to keep it handy for a refresh to settle ‘fly-aways’ but no major changes to the style so there is consistency with all your segments.

Clean fingernails

Some shots may require close-ups of hands on a keyboard, handling a phone call, etc. Therefore, it is recommended that all interviewees trim their fingernails as a minimum.

Nose or ear hair

Let’s not lie. While this may be a difficult subject to bring up, it is important to make sure that all nose hair is groomed so attention is not on the interviewee for the wrong reasons. The same can be true about ear hair. Before the day of the shoot, its recommended that you remove any unwanted hair.

Skin Foundation

Have foundation handy to cover any skin shine. Can’t convince your CEO to wear some foundation? At least have some mineral veil or loose powder to eliminate the shine. And if you wear full make up, keep it light and fresh. It’s good to have some lip balm on hand as well as it stops your lips from drying out during the interview.

Clothing – Colours vs patterns

The feeling of not knowing what to wear when appearing on camera can be an overwhelming experience. Additionally, not knowing what colors and clothing appropriate to wear in the video can add further anxiety. This is why a question such as ‘ What color clothing is suitable to wear when being filmed ‘ is a common one.

what colour clothing should I wear during a video shoot

As a general rule, solid and rich colors look best on video and film. Try and avoid wearing bright white clothing which can dominate the screen. A safer color to wear would be a not-quite-white colors like light beige and light grey. Also, very pale colors may work better. Choose colors that compliment your skin tone and wear colors that make you feel comfortable and confident. For this video series please dress in a smart casual style. Note that we only request you not to wear green if there is green screen filming planned.

what colour clothing should I wear during a video shoot - stay away from paterns

When it comes to selecting your on-camera wardrobe you should avoid clothing that has a lot of patterns. Try staying away from clothing that has stripes, plaids, and floral patterns. Unless you are trying to promote another brand avoid wearing clothing that has a logo written all over it. You are your brand, so consider wearing something that brings out your personality.

Best of luck with your video project

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How can I make myself look and sound better over a live video call?

How do I Position My Laptop or Tablet for Online Video Calls

Businesses and brands are contining to evolve. In the world of online video, there are growing number of video calls taking place over platforms like Zoom and Skype. We are now seeing live broadcasts gain in popularity over LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media platforms. With the power to live broadcast, below are a list of areas that will allow participants to look and sound more professional.

Clothing, hair and makeup tips

The feeling of not knowing what to wear can be an overwhelming experience. As a general rule, solid and rich colors look best on video and film. Try and avoid wearing bright white clothing that can dominate the screen. When it comes to selecting your on-camera wardrobe you should avoid clothing that has a lot of patterns. Try staying away from clothing that has stripes, plaids, and floral patterns. It also does not hurt to have blotting paper handy. Blotting paper can be used to reduce oily skin. You can read more advice on clothing tips by clicking on this link.

Apply the rule of thirds

A mistake often made by those appearing on a video call is not properly applying the rule of thirds. The ‘ rule of thirds ‘ is well known in the photography and videography industry. It is used to help compose balanced shots. The basic principle behind the rule starts with dividing the image into 9 equal parts. The grid is used as a guide to place points of interest. In the example below, those appearing on screen should position themselves so their eyes line up on the top horizontal line. When composing yourself on-camera use the top grid as a guide to align your eyes.

rule of thirds

Rule of thirds – screen split into 9 sections

Rule of thirds – presenter eyes positioned correcly on top bar

Correct laptop positioning

When positioning your laptop begin by applying the rule of thirds. Next, it’s important to get the angle of the camera right to ensure the framing is correct. In examples A & B, the computer screen has either been tilted forward or backward. This can result in you appearing in a dominant or submissive position. Also, the balance will not be right. What you need to aim for is a balanced position like in examples C and D. For example D, consider using a few books to level out the laptop so it is composing your face more evenly.

How do I Position My Laptop during a video call - incorrect position with screen tilted forward

Example A – Screen tilted inwards ( incorrect )

Example B – Screen tilted Outwards ( incorrect )

Example C – Screen centered ( correct )

Example D – Books used to raise laptop ( correct )

Your background is your window shop

When broadcasting live its important to get your background right. First, scan the background and begin by decluttering. It’s important that the audience focuses on you and not something in the background. Secondly, it’s recommended that you remove any items like family photos. Lastly, the background is equivalent to a shop window. Therefore, don’t be afraid to stage the background with any available furniture and plants.

Use a one or two-point lighting set-up

Get the lighting right before the live broadcast begins and you will look much more professional over the live online call. As a minimum, I would recommend a one or two-point light set up. This will involve the set-up of a single key light or a key light and a fill light. The key light is the stronger of the two lights and will be the main source of illumination. Having a light means participants on the call can better illuminate themselves. For a professional online call, no one will want to see participants in the dark. For example A below, only one light is used. For example B, an additional light called a ‘ fill light ‘ is used to balance any shadows. For any of us appearing on a live call that does not have any portable lights, setting up near a window as shown in example C can provide a good source of a key light is the next best option. If you are using any lights, the general rule is to position them on a 45-degree angle. Afterward, move the lights as desired until your face is lit up enough. When working with any lights keep a special focus on any less desired shadows that may appear on your face.

one-point-lighting-for-an-online-video-call

Example A – One point lighting

two point lighting for an online video call

Example B – Two point ligthing

one point lighting for an online video call window

Example C – One point lighting with a window

Get your audio right

No one will want to listen to a participant for long if the quality of their audio is not audible. Most modern laptops will have internal microphones, but using an external microphone will vastly improve the audio of any participants. As a general rule, you want to set-up for live recording in a room that is not loud. For starters, avoid any rooms that have to much street noise. Additionally, listen out for humming sounds that may be coming from a heating or air conditioning unit.

There a number of options available for audio equipment to help anyone get started. For example A, a simple lapel microphone can be attached to a laptop and clipped to the participant. Participants can easily clip the microphone around their neck area. If participants wish to hide the lapel there are techniques I will cover in a follow-up post. For example B, participants can attach USB stationary microphones to their desks. Example C demonstrates a more advanced set-up. If you are after a full studio set-up, there is plenty of equipment out there whcih will be followed up in a future post.

Lapel microphone for online video

Example A – Lapel mircrophone

microphone for online video

Example B – Stationary microphone

Example C – Advanced microphone set up

Webcam – Do you need to upgrade?

Most modern laptops will come with a webcam, but not all are created equally. Less expensive laptops will typically have web cameras that have compromised quality. If you will be appearing on many live broadcasts, I would consider upgrading your web camera to something more professional if your existing web camera has a low resolution.

1080p vs 720p webcam? What resolution do you need? If you’re planning on recording and publishing the video afterward, then maxing out the resolution is advisable. For general video conferencing a webcam with a resolution of 720p should be sufficient. The image quality you will gain from purchasing a web camera will easily outway any price tag.

Best of luck with your online video making.Stay tuned for future updates including links to recommended erquipment.

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Three stages to every project | Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production

Three Stages To Every Project – Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production

Whether you decide to hire a production company or produce your own content, there are three distinct stages of video production you should be aware of. Each phase will have its own challenges and will vary depending on the size of your project. Large scale productions in the television and film space will have dedicated teams working on each phase. Whether you are creating a short online video or larger sized project, the getting familiar with the three main stages below will enhance any video production.

Video Production Stages

Pre-Production – Scripting & Storyboard

The pre-production phase of a project is where all the planning takes place before the camera rolls. Whether its measured in minutes, hours or days, this planning phase sets the overall vision of the project. Pre-production also includes working out the shoot location and casting. You’re in pre-production mode the moment you start writing down a few points to cover in a video even if it is a short piece made for a blog. As your projects become more ambitious you can start to storyboard the project. Storyboards can really smooth out the post-production process when it’s time for editing. This will really be useful if there are multiple people working on the project.

Production

Production begins once the footage is recorded. This process will capture all the scenes and information captured in the pre-production process. During the production process you apply various the lighting requirements, framing and work on composition. Some projects will also shoot B-Roll during the production process. B-Roll is supplementary footage that can be included in the finished product.

Post-Production

The post production process begins after all the footage has been captured.  This is actually one of my favourite parts of the video making process. Graphics can be added along with images, music, colour correction and special effects. If you are producing your own video content there will be a bit of a learning curve at first, but it will be really rewarding.Post-production is like putting the last coat of paint on in a room and it will be well worth the time to learn the basics. This is where your video project will really come to life.

If  you are in charge of project editing and not sure where to start I’d recommend that you check out YouTube’s video editor, Movie Maker for the PC or iMovie for the Mac. All editors share some basic principles. If you need more advanced features you can always look at some of the pro-consumer video editors like PowerDirector available on www.cyberlink.com  or a pro editor such as Premier Pro or Final Cut Pro X.

Best of luck with your online video making

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Understanding online video attention spans

What is the most common video attention span for people

This has to be one of the hottest topics out there when it comes to producing any type of video. I really think this has a lot to do with the type of online video you wish to produce. For example, people may be more ready to sit through an interview on an interesting topic. Likewise, people may watch a longer tutorial video explaining how to use a product or service. On the downside, all too often I have seen promotional videos created by businesses which are too long and do not have a tight script. Oftentimes a business that has hired and paid good money to a production company to produce a promotional video may think they are getting more value for money if the video is longer. Unfortunately, this will often have the opposite effect. A short and snappy promotional video pitching a story in 90 seconds will most often be more effective than a 5 minutes production.

Monitoring your own videos will ultimately give you all the evidence you need to see who, and for how long, your target audience is watching your videos. You will be able to work out if visitors are at least watching 75% of your video content. If it turns out that a visitors video attention span is a small percentage, it’s time to check your online video strategy. Below are some tips which will help make your videos more engaging.

Advice on improving video viewing rates

Mix up your videos ASL (Average Shot Length)

One thing to consider when creating any online video should be the average shot length (ASL). ASL is the time spent on a single shot appearing in a video and is effectively used in film and television to create pace. For example, your video may be 2 minutes in length, but made up of 8 different shots averaging 15 seconds each. I would recommend experimenting with different shot lengths to help keep your audience interested. If your online video’s focus only has one subject, remember that you can break up the video using visual aids such as charts, pictures and graphs so the camera isn’t always focused on the subject. Understanding how ASL effects video attention span is key to the success of any online content.

Video 1– Presenter discusses global warming. We only see different shots of the presenter with a mix of close up and wide shots.

Video 2 – Presenter discusses global warming. Actual shots of melting icebergs along with pictures are shown rather than the focus solely on the presenter.

Feedback is a must – Get familiar with your video’s analytics

Ultimately, you will need an accurate analytical tool to measure video attention span. It will provide the best feedback on how much of your online video is being watched. YouTube and Vimeo both have a set of very powerful analytics which should not be ignored.  Pay particular attention to the ‘ Average View Duration ‘ of your video which is the estimated average of minutes watched per view for the selected content, date range and region.

YouTube provides loads of useful analytics to further understand the popularity of your video. If you go to your YouTube accounts dashboard you will find an option to view your videos analytics.  Alternatively, you can click on this YouTube analytics link (you’ll see information on your account once logged in).

Recommended duration lengths for video lengths

Below are some guidelines to follow based on 5 common video types on the web. Ultimately keeping a close an analytics tool will give you the best guidance on what’s working for you.

Pitch video

If you were to meet a potential customer face to face, how would you convince them that your business is better than the competition? A pitch is first about your business and why people should buy into it. The video should explain what makes your business unique. Also, the pitch video should explain how your business intends on solving the key problems that exist in the marketplace.

Recommendation – Keep it around 90 seconds or less. If you think that’s short, check out the hugely successful ‘ Dollar Shave Club ‘ video on YouTube which is around 94 seconds. While this video came out many years ago, it went viral shortly after launch.

Tutorials

Video tutorials are a great way of explaining how a product or service is used. For example, many software companies use tutorials to explain complicated functionality. Just type in ‘ How to … ‘ followed by your subject of interest into YouTube and and you will find many videos.

Recommendation – Take as long as it takes to do the tutorial, but try not to repeat yourself. This is one video type which I feel can defy normal rules. If someone generally wants an answer to something they will be more inclined to watch the content until they find the answer. If you are worried that your video is long, consider breaking it up into video chapters.

Testimonials

Testimonial videos showing how others perceive your business can be very effective marketing tools adding substantial credibility. If a new customer is thinking of purchasing a product or service from your business, seeing a video testimonial on your website could be key to sales.

Recommendation – Similar to a testimonial video I would recommend keeping the video less than 45 seconds. This will force you to get straight to the point in explaining why the visitor will benefit from the free product or service.

Interviews

Video interviews can be powerful tools if your business is trying to spread an idea or generate interest in a product. They can also be useful in explaining more complex topics. Interview videos are also great at generating credibility if a KPI (Key Person of Influence) is involved in the filming.

Recommendation – Similar to a tutorials, these videos can be longer in length. The subject material and types of questions will all be factors. If you’ve recorded a long interview and are worried about the length, remove the other content using an editing program to make it more snappy.

Best of luck with your online video making

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Online video production common | 5 video mistakes easily avoided

Online Video Production Made Right By Avoiding These Video Mistakes

You may think that you have heard it all before, but it’s very easy to make online video mistakes that could sabotage your project. For example, even the best storyboard or planning can’t save your project if the sound hasn’t recorded correctly or your shots are out of focus. Also, an online video shot can be ruined if a background object such as clutter interferes with the online video’s primary source. I’ve made my share of online video making mistakes. It’s all part of the process of improving and avoiding my top tips will improve your video production. So start producing better quality online video right away by avoiding these 5 Common Video Mistakes.

Video Mistake 1 – Poor sound & lighting

Have you ever tried reading in the dark or listening to your favorite song which has been badly recorded? Poor sound and lighting may sound like an obvious problem to avoid, but there are many video mistakes where the subject is not visibly clear due to inadequate lighting. Before rolling the camera, test some of the sample footage for clarity based on the existing lighting. If shooting in a low lit indoor environment or in poor light outdoors, you may want to consider purchasing a camera lighting package.

Keep in mind that the sound quality on some camera models may be impaired by their standard built-in microphone. Therefore you may wish to double-check whether your camera can support an external microphone for improved sound quality.

Video Mistake 2 – Inappropriate Video Length

Unlike sitting in a boring meeting that you wish you could walk out of, walking away from a video is only one mouse click away. Vidyard, a service the helps share video content has indicated that the optimal video length should be under 2 minutes. This will also of course depend on the type of video your brand or business plans on producing. For example, a video that is looking to promote a product or service may benefit from being short and snappy. On the other hand, a tutorial video posted on YouTube may benefit from being much longer. Creating a shorter video is normally the best path taken and content will normally resonate better if its clear and concise.

So time spent creating content is not wasted, make sure to use any analytical tools available. YouTube and Vimeo both offer an analytical component where administrators can view important stats such as online video viewing average durations. By paying close attention to these statistics, your brand can identify the types of video which are working best for your business and what the idea video durations are.

Video Mistake 3 – Filming fore the wrong target market

A challenge faced by any video maker is acquainting yourself with the target audience’s needs and desires and how to best reach them with your company’s message. A little research can go a long way in producing well-received content and failure to do so will result in a wasted effort. Before filming, keep in mind the following items:

Who is your ideal target audience? – Looking from their perspective, ask yourself what exactly is it that they require, along with any problems that they face.

Age – Which age bracket are you aiming for? This needs to be in line with the business services that you are offering.

Location – Where is your target audience located? If your business is offering one-to-one sessions in your home city, you may want to mention that your services are only available in that city. Gender – Which sex is your video targeting? If you are targeting both sexes, your video may risk alienating one or the other if the content of your video does not speak to them. Both the subject and the content they are speaking about should be chosen carefully

Gender – Which sex is your video targeting? If you are targeting both sexes, your video may risk alienating one or the other if the content of your video does not speak to them. Both the subject and the content they are speaking about should be chosen carefully.

Video Mistake 4 – Props left in the camera’s view

Remove any unnecessary props from the camera shot which may ruin the shot. For example, a stand left undetected in the scene and only discovered when the footage is reviewed in the editing room, can ruin the shot. Your subject should always be the video’s focal point so be careful what’s in the framing of each shot before any filming takes place.

Video Mistake 5 – Lack of pre-planning before a video shoot

All too often videos are shot based around an idea, but little time is spent on a script or thought given to the different camera shots necessary. It’s not until an attempt is made to edit video footage that these problems become clear, hindering the video.

A storyboard or time spent planning out the video will go a long way to improving its overall quality. Time spent putting together a storyboard will give video direction and will also act as a great editing guide once all your footage has been filmed. Keep in mind that storyboards don’t have to be complicated and can save a lot of time in the long run. More complex story boards could include the length of the shot, a list of transitions to be used, and descriptions of the shot.

Best of luck with your online video making

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