Live Event Filming Tips

Organizing your concept boards makes it more easy to do your live filming events.

There is no storyboard, there are no second takes, there may be a schedule but its not necessarily set in stone. Live event filming is about knowing how to work with the unpredictable, which can be stressful if not prepared.

Our best live filming experiences have been from filming conferences and music concerts working with at least two manned cameras. We have made mistakes and missed opportunities, but from our mistakes we have triumphed. In this article I want to share some tips that we have learnt along the way that helps us in preparing and successfully execute a live shoot.

These tips may seem obvious, but they are vital if you wish to have a hassle free shoot so you can concentrate on your creativity and perfection of each shot.

Where to Be:

After a quick scout of the location prior to the event itself, remember that the closer you are, the more audio and visual information you will be able to capture on camera. Ideally, it is good to have both wide shots at a distance from the event, as well as shots from within it. A close shot, has more emotional strength, as the audience will be confronted more powerfully with the expressions of the participants.

However a wide shot gives more of a contextual sense of the event i.e. how many people are attending, where it’s taking place, and so on. For this reason the wide shot is also called the establishing shot as it gives the viewer an overall sense of the venue that the event is taking place. Your best option is to have two cameras with, one at the back of the space on a lock off, while you capture handheld footage down at the front.

What to Shoot:

When you think of live event filming you have to think of how to collect images and sound that will help provide the most comprehensive information for the viewer. Here’s a possible list of shots to get at an event. Please adapt it to fit your specific needs.

Key Players: Shots of the speakers, musicians or hosts for the event, try to get plenty of close ups from as stable position as possible.

B-roll: Never underestimate the power of images to support your storytelling process. Film a good range of different images and activities within the live event and capture as much b-roll as you can. These are the loose series of shots that will help smooth the editing process by allowing breaks in action or speeches to be ‘covered’ by other relevant shots that do not feel out-of-place.

Vox-pops: This is the method used often in live event filming where a reporter and camera person ask an ordinary person on the street to spontaneously state their views on a subject. You can ask them quick questions about the event, and why they are there, as well as anything more personal relating to the advocacy of the event.

Lighting + White Balance:

Check what lighting the venue has, if it’s not sufficient then you need to ask permission if you can bring your own lighting kit. Check how it looks through the camera lens; don’t use your eyes to judge as a camera is unable to adapt as well as our eyes can. As well as lighting you need to make sure the camera is picking up the correct colour. To save extra work in post production, use a sheet of white card/paper and hold it in front of your camera lens to control the white balance, do this for each camera (if using multiple) to make sure each camera is picking up the same colour temperature.

Find the Schedule:

Speak with whoever is in charge of the event to find out as much information as possible about the set times / schedule. Even if they only have a rough idea, some things are set in stone. For example at a wedding, the bride & groom are expected to be at the church and the reception/after party for certain times. By knowing these times, you can plan how long certain parts of the day will take and how best to utilise your tapes or card space.

By speaking to the client, you can discuss what you expect from each other. The client may want you to capture certain aspects of the event and you will need to tell the client what you require and how you plan to operate. From this discussion you can both formulate and alter a schedule to fit in with both parties requirements.

Make a Checklist:

Last thing you want is to turn up at a venue and realise you have forgotten a vital piece of kit, (like the base plate for a tripod!. it happens!). So make sure that you have everything prepared: Cameras/lights/tripods/sound kit in working order, enough blank tapes/cards + spares, charged batteries + spares.

More important than anything, BE OBSERVANT, look around, watch people and try to anticipate what they may do next. Being on the ball and watching your surroundings will aid you in the success of your shoot and may nail you that magnificent shot that no one else saw! I hope these tips on live event filming prove useful and help relieve some of the stress of the day so you have more room to focus on the creativity.

Written by Mark A. Wilson the Managing Director of London based video production company Phink TV. With over 10 years experience in Digital Media and the Creative Industry working for the likes of Sky TV, The Times, and The Arcadia Group. I now feel it’s time to give back some of the valuable information and insight I have attained.

Amongst my many loves include, video production, digital media, design and marketing trends, hoping I can be a useful contributor to this site on these subjects.

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