Thorough planning is essential to a high quality event video. There are no second chances when it comes to live events, if you miss it you miss it, there are no reshoots. Preparation can also make for a much more relaxed atmosphere if you know what’s about to happen. Charged batteries, cameras and sound set-up and tested, a location scout to check out the venue all go a long way to ensuring you’ll capture everything without any hiccups.
Stay on Schedule
Before the event takes place, get in contact with the organisers/producers and ask for a programme or schedule of the day. Take note of any important events throughout the day that must be captured so you have adequate time to set-up or move equipment if required. If the event takes place over multiple rooms or stages you can use this to coordinate the crew to make sure everyone is at the right place at the right time.
Prepare for the Worst
To film a successful live event you have to think on your feet and quickly adapt when things go wrong. When you’re packing your gear for the shoot, think ahead for what you will need and create a list of absolute essentials. And then pack more. Cables can malfunction, adapters can fail, power points can be scarce, so make sure you have everything you need, and a backup for everything if all goes wrong.
Know Your Gear
Knowing the capabilities of your gear is hugely important to live shoot preparation. Which audio settings will you use if getting your sound from the A/V desk? Setting your levels, prepping your storage media for long recording times, or if your vision is being displayed on a screen for attendees, what cables and settings will you need to output the vision? You may have to think on the fly for fixing issues with wireless mics and presenters going off mic, often this can mean redundancies like recording from two different sources on different channels. If you haven’t planned for this you may find yourself without sound on your recording.
Make Some New friends
If the event you are filming is taking place in a conference hall or dedicated presentation space, it will almost certainly have an A/V mixing desk. Acquaint yourself with the A/V techie as they will be your best friend over the course of the event. Need extra XLR cables or more light on the stage? They are your saviour. So get there early and run through your setup and they will often run a line-out cable for you to record sound directly from the mixing desk which can give you the best quality sound. The event organisers will also be invaluable to you on shoot day. So dress appropriately, be courteous at all times and your daunting live event shoot will become a whole lot easier.
Every event has its own unique quirks and schedules, so no two events will ever be the same. By preparing for everything that could go wrong, knowing the schedule, having backups in place and liaising with organisers, you will be prepared for whatever the event throws at you.
Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2002, and specialises in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-proﬁt sector to connect with their audience more effectively by using video.