Looking to film a live event? The purpose of this article is to provide you with a framework to prepare you for producing your live event film and to equip you with the right set of questions to ensure you hire a production company which won’t let you down.
A live event film is defined as being when the filming is either mixed and/or broadcast in real-time, as opposed to editing the footage after the fact, which is more akin to producing a documentary. The main difference between producing a live event film over anything staged, is having the experience and capability to capture the moment as it happens.
1. KNOW YOUR DELIVERABLES
When briefing a production company to shoot your live event, It is crucial to know what you want to get out of your video and how you want to use the footage – this will directly inform what is filmed and how it is acquired. For example, will the event be live-streamed or will you only want a highlights package created. Another important deliverable might be any video content you want to exhibit at said event. Ensure you give your production company has ample time to produce this content and let them know how it will be seen.
Quick Tip: If the video content is designed to be viewed at a trade show, it is likely to be noisy. A good idea is to ‘burn-in’ subtitles into the video so it can be read whilst being viewed.
2. SHARE THE ITINERARY + HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANT BITS
A copy of the event itinerary received in advance is essential for avoiding any potential trip wires. This will ensure that the production team are fully prepared for all eventualities such as when to change hard drives and when to schedule toilet breaks.
If your live event also features speakers, or people of note, it is helpful to provide the production team with images of the key players. This can be immensely helpful if your event also contains a networking scenario where those key people might be nestled amongst a group of people. Don’t worry if you don’t have original photographs of these people, most people have their photos featured on their social media profiles.
Prior to the event, it is is important that you get consent from everyone likely to be featured in your video. This is very important under the current GDPR regulations.
Quick Tip: It can be very time consuming to get release forms from every individual who is likely to be in attendance at your event. To safeguard against this, when emailing details of the event, include a small disclaimer that says the event wil be videoed. You might also want to feature a small sign at the entrance to your event which reminds people that the event is being filmed and that by attending, they are consenting to being included*.
3. SCHEDULE A RECCE
Prior to the event, an appointed representative from the production company will need to perform a recce of the venue where the filming will take place. If you’re not using a venue you own or have direct control over, the production company will need to be put in contact with the appointed person at the location to arrange a time to visit. The production company will need to make detailed notes on the performance area, electrical outlets, best camera placement, venue layout, lighting setup, sound systems and venue rules.
The production team will also require a space to stow the camera gear and set up a base of operations. If the content being filmed is required to be broadcast live, then appropriate space will also need to be factored in for a mixing desk as well as potentially a broadcasting vehicle. Knowing all of these things in advance will significantly reduce the risk of things going awry or taking the production team by surprise.
4. MULTI-CAMERA FILMING
As a good rule of thumb, live events should be shot with a minimum of three cameras. A good example of where this isn’t the case is a sports game such a rugby match. In situations such as this, you’re looking at significantly more cameras indeed. The risk of shooting a live event with one camera only is the limited point of view. The camera can only point in one direction at a time.
Live events based on an on-stage performance can usually survive with a minimum of three cameras. One thing which is certainly true however is the more cameras you use, the more interesting your final film will be.
5. HOW ABOUT SOUND?
When capturing any event, sound is critical. In many venues, a dedicated mixing desk will be in operation which is the ideal for the production company as they can usually take an audio feed directly from the desk. As part of the initial planning it is important to know how many people are speaking and what the set up looks like as it informs whether a sound recordist is required and what microphones we should use.
It is also worth noting wether or not there is a plan to field questions from the audience. In which case, in order to capture the questions, a wireless hand held mic is vital as it can be distributed around the room more easily.
For the sake of speed in the edit, it is usually a good idea to take a basic audio feed into the camera as it will allow the edit software to sync up the footage with the audio automatically rather than make it a manual effort.
6. WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY OF YOUR LIVE EVENT
The production team will need to arrive early. Depending on the complexity of your shoot, the production team will arrive at least a couple of hours to get set up and to perform the necessary checks. If a complicated AV setup is required, it is not uncommon for the AV team to arrive the day before. Arriving early will also give the production team some extra-time to gather establishing shots which are really important for giving context to your video.
7. DELIVERY OF YOUR LIVE EVENT FILMS
At Element 26, we know that getting your videos back quickly can be the difference between capitalising on an event or having it lost in the sands of time. This is why we always recommend filming live events using at least three cameras, all joined together using something called gang-sync. Gang sync is a method where all the cameras are tethered together so they can share the same timecode. What is timecode? Timecode is a coded signal within video containing information about about things such as frame number and time. When all the cameras share the same timecode, post-production times can be significantly shortened whilst also improving the final result.
Timecode is a standard for labelling frames of video so that the various editing systems know which order to place the frames in. When all the cameras share the same timecode it becomes far quicker to edit your videos and turn them around in post-production. Not all cameras (specifically cameras like the Canon 5D) are capable of recording timecode so it is important, if your production is a multi-camera shoot, that these types of cameras are avoided.
At Element 26 we have produced countless live event films. If you require any further assistance either preparing for or shooting your live event, do not hesitate to get in contact.
*this is only our recommendation and we always recommend getting your own legal advice on matters of GDPR.