How to videotape a conference

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    • #39508

      Hi everyone.

      I’m a bit frazzled. I’ve been asked if I can videotape a small conference (50-60 people) later this year. All I really have in my equipment arsenal is a Sony VX2100, a coupld of tripods (I’ll rent another camcorder), a lavalier mic, a shotgun mic, and a mini-disc recorder that I still cannot figure out.

      I know that I will need some additional equipment. I have not been to the location, so I don’t know what I will need in terms of lighting. Do you all have any general suggestions for lighting a speech/group discussion in a large room?

      Also, I’m really wary about the audio. I have the lav mic for the speaker, but when he/she is done, there will be questions from the audience. So, I would like to have handheld mics to pass around. The speaker as well as the audience needs to be amplified as well as recorded. How do I do both, and well?

      I know there will be someone who will say that I should not even attempt to do this with so little experience, but I’m looking at it as a challenge. They have not decided on me yet; I just need to come up with a proposal. Any help from you all would be immensely appreciated. Thank you!

    • #170711


      Frazzled; you must have been reading the videographer tool kit posts. Your timing is really off; when to be frazzled is right before the job, not months in advance. Go do whatever it is you do to relax.

      If it’s a simple standard setup with one speaker or a series of speakers from a single podium, you might not need any more equipment. Your lav can be attached to the mic at the podium and wired to your main cam. You ask the speaker to repeat the questions and you are covered for that. (Even with mics in the audience, typically portions of the room won’t hear the question — or the question won’t make sense — so this is a standard speaker practice anyway.)

      With the prodigious low light ability of your 2100, not likely you will need to bring in extra light.

      HOWEVER, YOU NEVER ASSUME WHAT THE SETUP IS GOING TO BE. EVER. You go to the one(s) in charge and ask questions. And if they don’t know, they will figure it out, and you will bug them until they give that information to you.

      The wild card is the format (the configuration/seating arrangement of all bodies) at the conference, or the ever-changing format, the sudden zipping from one format to another; e.g., several speakers in front at a speaker table, panel style, vs speakers operating from a single podium; participants/audience organized by tables with dynamic conversations going on and a single individual "reporting out" vs chairs lined up in rows, assembly hall style. These variations can drastically effect mic/mixer requirements; possibly necessating an "assistant."

      Audio visuals: May be hard to capture with max quality on the fly, but do capture. Get copies of originals of all a-v’s that matter and reshoot for inserting later. None of this a problem if you are a Marvel Comic hero of if you just follow the maxim Be Prepared.

      Final thought: if there is a photographer floating around, have a word. You (and the event sponsors) are not interested in getting video closeups of their ‘do, or lack thereof, as he/she stands between your cam and the podium.

      Stay Cool and get lots of these jobs. You will make a good impression if you deliver DVDs of a quality product within 24-48 hours after the event.

      REGARDS … TOM 8)

    • #170712

      Hi Tom.

      Thanks for responding. I guess I’m just frazzled because I don’t have too many specifics on the location or how the event will be laid out, so I’m not sure what to quote these people. I guess I’ll just cover everything and go from there.

      As far as I know, it’s just one speaker up front at a podium with a little microphone. I will probably connect the lav mic to them, as speakers tend to wander away from the podium sometimes. There will also be some PowerPoint presentations, so I’m going to have to get those somehow, without them looking horrible onscreen.

      As far as I know, there will be no photographer. But I know what you’re talking about. I’ve done a couple weddings before (family), and it’s like a choreographed dance to get around them.

      And as for turnaround in 24-48 hours…my jaw dropped when I read that. There is no way I can get them a DVD in 24-48 hours, unless I just give them the raw footage…

    • #170713

      Huzzah Wrote:

      There is no way I can get them a DVD in 24-48 hours, unless I just give them the raw footage…

      Find out the name of the conference and the name(s) of the speaker(s) as soon as possible. Then you can make up a conference title graphic and a graphic for each speaker in advance. Be sure and get a shot of the audience finding their seats just before the talk starts. From then on it coud be (mostly) raw footage of talking heads. Maybe add a closing graphic listing all the speakers and sponsors. Only minimal editing to hook that together, and it’s a ‘sort of’ polished video presentation. YOU CAN DO IT! πŸ˜‰

      One note: If they’re going to have the speaker standing next to a video projection screen (or large video monitor), you might want to bring a lightstand and light with barndoors, so you can light the speaker without having the light spill onto the screen. Probably 60 to 100 watts would be bright enough.

      My 3 cents worth πŸ™‚
      Ken Hull

      A final thought: Do you know how long this runs? If it’s 6 hours of talks, with several references to graphics, this would be a major multi-DVD production! Find out as much as you can before hand. (And bring extra tapes.)

    • #170714

      Hey Huzzah,

      I wrote a fairly lengthy re-reply which somehow got lost and I couldn’t get it back. πŸ˜•

      So, here’s a short version.

      You’ve got the right attitude (inquisitive and determined to succeed). Hang on to that.

      Don’t worry about 48 hours. That’s after you’ve done a few. It takes longer than that for someone to do a written report about it.

      You need to determine what exactly they want on the video. Will your piece be the comprehensive record; or just the record of the speakers and maybe an award ceremony. With really sophisticated websites so commonplace, there may be plans afoot to have brochures, Power Point presentations, etc., even your video, accessible on the corporate website. There may not be a need for you to worry about anything but the speakers.

      However, if they expect, or eventually figure out, that your video is going to be the official record of everything, that could multiply your task by two or three times.

      Try to get involved in the planning process, so that you can provide technical input about video coverage; and so that you know what’s going on the minute it’s figured out. (Help them figure it out!) Even if everything is going to be put on a website, supplemented with a few copies of your DVD for the archives and for distribution to execs/customers/donors/etc, something you could bring up is this: If there are films/videos presented at the conference that the execs want on the record, even if they are available via links on the website, if they are accessible as separate titles on your DVD, the quality of the images and the quality of the viewing experience would be greatly enhanced compared to viewings limited to computer screens. Something like this would be a manageable add-on to your task of covering the conference, and might get you points.

      Best To You,

      REGARDS … TOM 8)

    • #170715

      Thanks guys.

      I have found out a bit more about what they expect in a final product. Basically, this will be a workshop that I will be videotaping, with about 8-10 speakers giving presentations (some including PowerPoint presentations), as well as Q&A times, and general group discussions. They plan to have the final product (my DVDs) as a training video for their groups across the country.

      My other question is this. I have a Sony VX2100. I want to have a secondary camera. Ideally, I would like another VX2100, so that the picture quality and color are identical, but I can’t seem to find one available for rent. All I’m finding are Canon GL2s. Do any of you out there have experience with both of these? Will I be seeing noticeable differences in picture between the two?

      I really don’t want to have to buy another VX2100. I read somewhere that only amateurs buy, and pros rent.

      Thanks again. You all are a great help…and comfort!

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