5 Tips for Camera Crews filming live events.
When the curtain goes up, and the lights come on, there is an electricity at a live event that can’t be duplicated. Whether it’s a corporate live stream, live concert, political address, or your average Monday morning CEO web-stream, the excitement of a live event can be palatable. So in that regard, filming a live event can be an amazing experience, or a living nightmare.
Unlike most other video productions, there is no “do-over”. There is no “Cut, back to one. Let’s try that again.” For camera crews filming live events either you get the shot, or you don’t, there is no rewind. For this reason among a few others, failure is literally not an option. Here are a few great tips that will help you avoid the unfixable oh no’s of shooting a live event.
Tip # 1 – Scout the Venue
Experienced camera crews filming live events will know the lay of the land. It’s an essential aspect of your preproduction. You must know where your power sources are, what your lighting needs will be, and what your audio requirements will entail. If you show up the day of the event, and expect to get all these aspects of the production together on the fly, you will set yourself up for and EPIC failure that you can’t recover from.
Again, there is no rewind. Form a relationship with the venue’s Technical Director (TD). Don’t try to figure it all out by yourself. Save yourself the headache and talk to a person who knows the facility well. Sit in on a rehearsal if possible. Know what’s going to happen before it happens so that you’re ready to capture the moment in real time.
Tip # 2 – Arrive Early and get establishing shots
At Beverly Boy whenever our camera crews are filming live events, they know…”I’ts better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Grab an establishing shot from as many different angels as you can, more than you think you will need, and the editor will love you for it. You are telling a story with images, so the viewer truly wants to know, when, where, who, and why.
Your establishing shot will answer two of those essential questions, when and where. Shooting the crowd entering the venue takes the viewer on a journey. If they were at the event, they will remember the moment they walked into the venue. If they weren’t present, these establishing shots will create the feeling that were. Again, scouting the venue and arriving early will help make this shot seamless and easy.
Tip # 3 – Know the Order of Events
You shouldn’t be surprised by anything that happens. Know when the fireworks are going off. Know when the big entrance is going to be made, and from where. There is nothing worse than a camera swinging around to try and get a dramatic event. Once it’s over, it’s over. This keynote address will only be delivered once, so get them the first and only time. Don’t blow the shot! And in between always grab plenty of great B-roll, you can never get enough.
Tip # 4 – Check Audio Often
A sure fire route to you pulling your hair out is the pitfall of bad audio. A lavaliere mic with dead batteries or one placed on mute could be the kiss of death for your shoot, so to prevent this situation check your audio early and often. Make it a scheduled process, perhaps every 20 minutes or so to check your audio. Your editor will thank you later.
Tip # 5 – Shoot with multiple cameras
If possible shoot with multiple cameras. A master shot (Wide), a close up on instruments, set piece or the speaker’s center, and a hand held camera moving through the crowd should get you all the necessary coverage of the event you need. When doing this make sure you are shooting with the same make and model of camera. Shoot on the same frame rate and shutter speed.
Make sure that all cameras are white balanced on the same card, and that all your menu settings are the same. It’s a good idea to stagger the camera roll times of each camera so that when it becomes necessary to switch in a new media card or refresh a battery, one camera is always rolling.