It sounds easy! But so much preparation goes into filming a seminar and having it look like a high quality production and not cheap. Remember this is representing you and your company. The last thing you would want is the viewers feeling like IT & YOU are low budget. Imagine watching Oprah or Ellen filmed with a handycam on a dark stage which looks like it could have been your year 4 school assembly. You just couldn’t take it seriously could you!?
After a good 10 years of experience with seminars, lets just say we have hit almost every speed bump you could hit and have even learnt a few lessons the hard way. None the less! It really does take a few small things to make sure things work well and look top notch! Here are some tips on what to watch out for and what to look for when preparing to film for a seminar or talk! Remember! You only get one shot!
1. What is your output?
Are you filming for T.V, Blu-ray DVD or just the internet. Why this is important is so your videographer comes equipped with the correct type of camera suited specifically for your job. For example certain cameras work much better in low lighting if there aren’t stage lights or if you are releasing the seminar on Blu-ray you would want to make sure you have a good quality full HD camera. Simple but crucial
Speaking of low light! Well let’s hope we don’t have to speak about it too much. Low lighting is cameraman’s nightmare. You see, when we try to film a subject that is not well lit we have to increase certain settings like ‘gain’ for example. The more we need to increase these things the more grainy the image starts to look. In a nutshell the camera has to compensate and starts dropping its quality dramatically if it’s too dark to try and brighten it up. It almost makes having a nice fancy camera pointless! SOLUTION? Easy! Stage lights. Ask the venue to organise stage lighting or a spot light on the speaker. If that is not an option your camera crew can always come with lighting too.
Now imagine going to a live seminar and watching it with earplugs! Actually let’s not imagine that. That would be terribly frustrating! But believe me, more than once we have had products completely thrown in the trash because something went wrong with the sound (not on our part but the venue sound crew). After countless issues like loud hissing, buzzing or just no sound at all half way through, we now pretty much refuse to have only one sound source. The standard thing to do is having the camera man connected to the soundboard (mixer) of the venue. But as a back up we have been also having a second microphone on the speaker that goes directly to the camera. This way it’s practically impossible to not have something go wrong. Also a little side note! Don’t forget if your crowd members are asking questions…they can only be heard with a microphone! There you go! Audio…So often overlooked!
4. Camera Positioning
It’s important to be well prepared for where the cameras will be placed rather than just figuring it out 10 minutes before doors open. It’s worth sending a floor plan to your cameramen to prepare them well in advance. Also be willing to move a few chairs around sometimes or even lose a couple of seats to fit in the camera where it’s best. Remember! Your video is permanent. Moving a few people around is worth it in the long run. One very important thing to have when filming is a stage for the speaker and if possible, a riser for the cameraman. Otherwise be prepared for plenty of heads in shot all the time, which can start to give you that ‘small’ or ‘less professional vibe’.
5. Presentation & Set Design
This can make the crappest place look top notch. We have arrived to some venues thinking “oh boy this is going to be terrible inside” but being nicely surprised by some well set up presentation. It really isn’t too hard to make a stage look nice. A curtain of some sort behind the speaker helps a lot. It blocks windows and or ugly walls and looks consistent on camera instead of too much changing background. Try avoid having an empty stage if possible. Placing some flowers, banners and products does the job perfectly.
6. Projector and Slides
These are helpful tools to help your LIVE presentation but it can actually get in the way of the filming. It is not recommended to have slides filmed or have the projector placed directly behind the stage and speaker. It is not possible to film the projector and the speaker. It’s basically one or the other as filming the projector will make the speaker go very dark and filming the speaker will turn the projector too bright and no longer visible. So be very careful as to where the projector is when deciding to film. The easy fix is having the slides edited into the video in post production!
There you have it! Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as point and shoot, but a little bit of preparation on your end and a lot of experience from your camera crew will make sure your product has a high level of professionalism and quality to represent you and your company the way it should.