Shooting live events is nothing new for Skillman Video Group, and neither is working with MIT. Recently, SVG was hired to shoot the 2016 Doctoral Research Forum held at one of MIT’s campuses in Boston. The forum was based around 8 presentations that would last about 20 minutes each. It always feels good for SVG knowing that we continuously provide the best videos for our clients, and so much so that they keep us on speed dial for other projects or events.
Although we have worked with MIT before, our approach and protocol stay’s the same. SVG’s videographer, producer, and audio crew arrived at the filming location an hour and a half before the presentations began to set up the equipment. Seeing that we would be filming a live event, it was important to arrive at the location early to test the audio, soundboard, lighting, and camera angles.
When filming live presentations it’s important that the camera is able to pick up all the audio from each presenter. By bringing in our audio team it allowed us to hook our camera up to the sound board so any dialogue coming through over the rooms speakers would also be directly sent to the camera. Three presenters were set-up with wireless lavalieres. When it was one presenter’s turns to speak the sound crew would turn down the audio from the prior presenter and turn up the audio for the next. This allowed for an easier transition from one presenter to the next without having to slow the day down due to micing up the next presenter each time. Having three wireless lavalieres not only made for an easier transitions but also kept the presentations flowing. Our audio crew also set-up two wireless microphones. One was set at the podium for introductions into the next presenter, and another at the judge’s table for questions. The audio from these two microphones was also sent to the soundboard and then into the camera. Although audio can be difficult to understand if we are talking logistics, as long as you have the right equipment and audio professionals, the task is easier done than said. All it takes is one wire to connect the soundboard to the video camera.
Camera set-up can be tricky when filming live events especially because the videographer must anticipate where the presenters will be walking. In order to ensure that our video cameras would capture the presenter the projector screen, we added tape on the floor so the presenters would know what areas he or she were permitted to walk. Although you will have some presenters who wander off past the black tape, our wide camera angle made sure to capture all movement.
Camera set-up is always important during live events. Seeing that the presenters would be using a projector with slides to show their research we needed to include a close up shot of the presenter, a wide angle shot of the projector and the presenter, as well as a shot of just the projection screen. As stated before we assembled one camera toward the back of the room. We raised the camera up on the tripod to avoid the audience members sitting at the tables in front of the presenter. Having audience heads at the bottom of the screen takes away from the video and is a distraction visually. Another video camera was set-up at the front of the room, but out of the way of audience members. This camera was solely to focus on the presenter and pan to the judges during questions. Finally, a third camera sat on one of the tables at the front of the room. This camera was only set-up to capture the presenters slides. The slides from the presentations were sent to our editor to include into the video. By filming the projector screen it would help the editor in post-production know where each slide is to go.
Although the tape on the floor was to stop the presenters from moving outside of the camera shot, it was also to ensure the presenters would not walk in front of the projector screen and cast a shadow. Shadows would ultimately be the problem to avoid throughout filming. The room we were in brought in a lot of natural lighting, which illuminated the room beautifully but can also cause a lot of unwanted shadows across the background and floor. To avoid the shadows, our professional videographer assembled two LED lights (One small and one larger). The LED lights would add extra light but would also offset the shadows. One thing to keep in mind when working with natural lighting is the suns movement through the course of the day. However, having extra LED lights set-up can be adjusted as the natural lighting comes in through different directions, and again can offset the shadows.
On a side note: when filming indoors with natural lighting always make sure to reset the white balance on the camera.
It’s always a pleasure working with MIT, and we hope to continue our relationship with the University down the road. Though there are always some problems that come up when shooting a live event, our crews preparation only makes those problems minimal.