Any time there is a large audience, there’s an opportunity to try something new: image magnification. All it takes is a camcorder and a projector to give everyone in the crowd a closeup look at an event. Think of the images you’ve seen on gigantic screens at pro sporting events or the closeups of the piano keys at a concert. You can make any event seem bigger by projecting a live shot on a screen. Try it at a grade-school graduation, a choral concert or a corporate keynote. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Cater to the Crowd
While wide shots are essential to establish scenes in edited productions, closeups are the rule when projecting live images at an event. The goal is to show people what they cannot see from where they sit. The obvious key to image magnification is to magnify images. Zoom in. The secret to successfully enhancing a show on the screen is to give everyone in the audience a great front row seat.
2. Go Slow
When your shot is seen live by several hundred people in an audience, you need to shoot carefully. Any shift in focus or shaky shot will be, literally, larger than life and absolutely obvious to all. Wild camera whips won’t work well. The goal is to provide coverage that delivers the desired details, but doesn’t distract. Anticipate the action and make your moves methodically. It should go without saying, but a tripod is a requirement.
3. Watch your Wires
In order to send a signal from your camcorder to the screen, you’ll need to have a cable or two. In the most simple setup, you’ll run the S-video out from your camera directly to a projector. This will limit your ability to run around. Pick an appropriate position to provide the best possible perspective for the people present. In short: find a good spot and stay put. It’s a good idea to carefully tape down your cables. If a cable wiggles loose or is suddenly yanked out, the show’s over.
4. Identify Essential Action
Keep it simple. Decide what to concentrate on and cover it conservatively. You don’t have to show everything, just the important things. It’s difficult to show a person at a podium and an interested attendee in the audience without making a major move. Image magnification is not about making a fancy production that calls attention to itself; it is about enlarging the essential action.
5. Switch It Up
You can add interest and cover a camera by incorporating a switcher and a second source. Your live production will be better if you can periodically go to a graphic or switch to a second camera set on a safe shot. With a standalone switcher, a few friends and a couple of camcorders, you can set up a manageable multi-camera shoot that will make the audience feel like they are at a hip, happenin’ Hollywood hootenanny.