Our team has filmed thousands of events from Davos to beauty pageants and even a Taylor Swift concert and they’ve learned a thing or two along the way. We sat down with our award-winning production team to create the web’s most comprehensive guide on how to film an event. Here are their recommendations:
Doing your pre-research
At TopLine we are a strategic video production company, and huge believers in content with a purpose. We therefore wouldn’t even get started on an event video production brief without first developing a really solid understanding of what the event is actually about. We need to know why the event is being held, who will be speaking, performing and attending and which media will be there.
We then need to know what the event video will be used for, where it will be published and shared and when it needs to be ready. Armed with this, we can then start making decisions about how to tackle the project.
Choosing your equipment
There are many factors that influence the choice of equipment. If we’ll be filming people on stage, we will need to get access to the PA desk from the event organiser so that we can plug into the microphones they are using.
Then we need to consider how many cameras we might need. If we’re filming a speaker we can add more impact by capturing the audience. That means we will need three cameras: one on the speaker, one wide and one roaming to pick up audience reactions.
We’ll usually be picking up B-roll of people networking before or after presentations, which means we will use a gimbal to enable us to float smoothly through the crowd.
Building the right event video team
If you’re really keen on learning how to film an event like a pro, you will need to pull together a team of superstars. That might include:
- A producer / director to handle any interviews.
- Your team of camera operators.
- A sound recordist – really helpful for big events that can be quite noisy and are often held in venues with poor acoustics.
- If you’re live streaming you will need an engineer who is able to focus her time purely on the broadcast.
- If possible, it’s ideal to have a couple of assistants or runners who can act as a go between for the various camera operators, the producers and the engineer in charge of live streaming.
In addition to your own team it is essential to have someone representing the client or the event who knows all the guest speakers and can get them to the right place at the right time,
Considering the lighting
Event centres and conference venues are usually pretty dark places so if you need to capture interviews then it is always helpful to do your own lighting. This also addresses the issue of event spaces generally not being particularly flattering to the subjects being filmed.
This is less important if you are filming people talking on stage as they will be lit for the audience and you can usually rely on venue’s lighting.
If an event is outdoors, it’s essential to consider how the light will change throughout the day, and then to factor that into your plans.
Planning for the edit
Event filming differs from other corporate video production in that it often requires a really quick turnaround. Some clients need the finished video within 24 hours, and we have worked with others where the timeframe is even shorter.
To be able to meet these demands usually requires editors onsite who can turn the content around the same day, or ready offsite (but nearby) to start editing as soon as the rushes come back to them. If they are onsite they will need a quiet spot with access to broadband and power.
Planning for a crisis
In our experience, the most successful event shoots are those in which the production team is prepared for the worst. Expect things to go wrong. Prepare in advance. And put out fires as quickly as you can. This means being super-organised and thinking about the following questions.
- If you’re live streaming you will probably have issues with the internet bandwidth. How do you overcome this? Will you have a back-up line, a dedicated line or even a dongle?
- What levels of noise can you expect while filming interviews? How will you mitigate this? Perhaps by having your own sound recordist at the event or finding a quiet space for interviews.
- How available will the event organisers be on the day? They will probably be busy, stressed and hard to pin down. So can you try to get all the information you might need from them well in advance? You probably won’t be their priority while the event is in progress, so make sure you have a schedule and have everything you need from them in advance.
- Who is going to find the interviewees and get them into the chair to be filmed? What if they get waylaid, lost or forget? Do you have all their mobile numbers and have they been reminded about the event?
- How will you get people to contribute vox pops? You’ll need a convincing producer and you’ll need to find somewhere to do it that isn’t where the food is. That’s where people will naturally gravitate, but you don’t want to be filming people eating.
- What time will you have access to the venue? You need access well ahead of the start time so that you can get set up early. You don’t want to be seen rigging up and flapping while the event is going on. Where will you park? How will you get your access passes? Can this be done ahead of time? Does security know who you are and what you are doing (they can be so helpful on the day)?
- Is your team briefed on how to dress for the event? You should definitely have this discussion in advance and identify whether you’re going to look the part and how. Whether that’s branded kit, or dressing to match the style of the event, it adds something special to your client’s experience if you’ve thought about this.
So that’s just about everything you need to know about how to film an event. If you’re not up for doing it yourself, then contact us to see if we can help.
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