Uninitiated videographers can quickly find themselves sweaty, tired and frustrated as they try to chase the action at a fast-paced event. Stop to blot your brow or down a drink at the wrong moment and you might miss the best part of the best man’s toast or the jabbiest joke at the CEO’s roast. Want to shoot better event video? Consider the tips in these five areas and you’ll be on the road to producing outstanding event videos.
While events are not typically scripted, most follow predictable schedules. It is essential for an event videographer to anticipate upcoming occurrences so the camera can be in the proper position to catch all of the essential action. Even without knowing every detail of a wedding ceremony, you can expect that the couple will exchange vows, rings and kisses, cut a cake, dance a dance and toss a bouquet before they drive off into the sunset. Miss any of these magical moments and your video will miss the mark. A printed program is an important tool for predicting what will happen next, and staying one step ahead of the action is absolutely essential. If a printed program is not available, find someone who knows the schedule and jot down the planned order of events.
Once you know what’s on tap, prioritize what will happen into three categories: essential shots that absolutely cannot be missed, secondary shots that would be nice to have if you can get them, and bonus shots. Rank the shots within each category so that the most important ones are at the top of your list. When it’s time to shoot, let the essential shots drive your shooting schedule, and record the secondary and bonus shots when there are lulls in the essential action. It’d be a shame to miss an essential shot like the cutting of the ribbon at a building dedication, because you were busy shooting a bonus shot of the contractor’s name on a bulldozer used in the construction. You can live without that dozer, but the production is sunk if you miss the shot of those giant scissors snipping the ribbon.
Whenever possible, scout the location before the day of the event. This will allow you to identify electrical outlets and locate shooting positions. It’s best to visit at the same time of day that the event will take place. This will allow you to evaluate the ambient sound and lighting conditions of the venue. Of course, the best solution would be to attend a rehearsal of the event. In addition to examining the environment, you’ll gain valuable information about the positions of important people and the order events.
Before you start rolling tape, choose a theme that will be the motivation for your production. Remember, events are about people. Identify the important people at the events you cover, and seek to tell their stories. While it’s important to be flexible and go with the flow of the event, good event videos do more than merely capture the event in a passive surveillance-camera style, they tell the story of the event in a way that is compelling on screen. To start, identify the story behind the event, then let that story motivate your production. A wedding, for example, is really a chapter in a couple’s love story. Consider using photos of the couple and interviews with their friends and family to tell their story. This will make your video more compelling, cause you to be more creative, and will set the context for the day. The motto, "plan your shoot, shoot your plan" provides excellent advice to event videographers.
Automatic camcorder settings for focus, exposure and white balance have no place in event video. No matter how nicely your shot is composed, your video will be perceived as amateurish if the focus drifts in and out as the graduates walk across the platform, or if the iris shifts dramatically when you pan past a window. Switch to manual, and take control of your shots. Your videos will be better for it.