Filming a live event requires a great deal of preparation and planning. If you miss something important due to poor planning, there are no second takes and no reshoots. As live events can move quickly and be unpredictable, we had to work on a comprehensive plan to get the shots we needed.
Our recent shoot for the Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix in Melbourne required us to meet some specific criteria from the event hosts, and to show off their “escape room” setup, a challenge for Magic players to receive hints about an upcoming card release.
The escape room was a dimly lit, gothic style dungeon with flickering lights and a puzzle for participants to solve. We decided to shoot with the Sony A7S, as it performs well in low light with little to no image noise.
The event organisers had provided us with a list of shots they were looking to use in the final clip, including full coverage of the escape room, player’s reactions and various B-roll throughout the day. This allowed us to plan our day ahead of time to ensure we didn’t miss any important shots, like the first group of people to attempt the escape room. As mobility was essential to ensure we got every shot possible with one camera, we used a handheld rig with a body support and follow focus to enable us to reframe and focus quickly with minimal equipment weighing us down.
We also had a boom operator and an on-board microphone hooked up the the camera rig to enable us to get good quality sound.
live event magic the gathering
As we weren’t editing the footage ourselves and the producers who had provided us with a shotlist were on a very tight schedule to send out a finished edit, we had to be very selective with our shots to ensure that our rushes weren’t filled with unusable footage. This meant sticking to our shot list and only deviating when we saw an opportunity for some useful B-Roll.
We carefully selected our equipment based around getting the best quality footage without sacrificing mobility. So the Sony A7S was chosen with a body-mounted rig and follow focus to allow us a steady handheld image with the mobility required when moving around a large convention centre.
Sound was recorded with a shotgun mic on a boom pole, into a mixer, which was then channelled into the mounted Sony audio input.
Logistics and file transfer
As the footage was being transferred digitally to the US for an edit the next day, having a solid plan was crucial. We had arranged three drop points throughout the day during natural breaks in filming. As the ProRes files from the A7S were large and would take a long time to transfer, we used an option on the A7S to simultaneously record a low resolution proxy as an MP4 file. We uploaded these files first to allow the editors in the US to begin an edit before the full resolution files had uploaded. the files were transferred to a hard drive, then taken to a transfer facility in South Melbourne. By following our plan and working efficiently throughout the day, we managed to get all the required footage and the producers received the footage on time for a rapid finished edit.
If you need to capture a live event, or for any questions about our services, contact us here.
Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2001, and specializes in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-proﬁt sector to connect with their audience by using video.
About us and this blog
Based in St. Kilda, Melbourne, Dream Engine is comprised of a small, close-knit team of energetic video production professionals.