Any filmmaker who’s worked in live event coverage knows that it’s among the most challenging and rewarding types of all video work. Unlike other shoots, there will always be things that you can’t control while filming a live event. It’s always best to expect the unexpected and to be prepared to go with the flow.
That said, with experience, comes knowledge and an understanding of what needs to happen before the filming of any live event to ensure everything goes to plan as much as possible. Here are our top 5 tips to help keep you on track:
Planning is a vital element with all kinds of filming and even more so with live event coverage. Check and double check that you have all of the equipment (we find making a checklist especially helpful) you’ll need and that it’s charged. Have a Plan B in case your equipment dies on you on the day. Make sure you know where you’re going, always check if there are likely to be any extreme traffic conditions on the day and make sure you have enough petrol in your tank to get there. If possible, check out the location prior to filming – this allows you to get an idea of the venue’s size, its appearance and anything else you need to think of and troubleshoot before filming.
Ideally, you’ll be provided with a runsheet well in advance so that you know how the day is likely to flow. Not only does this give you a basic schedule to follow, it makes you think ahead in terms of time required if you need to set-up your equipment in more than one place or if you need to accommodate for any special requests. It’s never wise to go into filming blind so if you’re not given a runsheet, ask for one.
The best filming takes place when the filmmaker is comfortable with their gear. That doesn’t mean knowing how to turn a camera on and off – it means knowing the ins and outs of how your equipment works and being aware of those small things you can do that will make all of the difference to the shoot. We’re talking about things like knowing how to set the camera to output to a screen via HDMI and SDI correctly, how to fend off any possible interference from microphones and so on.
Live event filming is like any other type of video or film: you’re aiming to put together a compelling video for viewers. So before the event, you need to think of the shots you need and what sounds are going to help you to put together a video that makes sense and is a hit with the target audience. Identify any key players you need to get footage of (speakers, MCs, musicians and so on), consider if vox-pops will add to what you’re trying to create and so on. With filming, it’s always best to have more footage to work with as opposed to not enough.
This one can be a real stumbling block for inexperienced filmmakers. Always check what lighting a venue has before you start rolling – if it’s not good enough, make sure you’ve got a lighting kit with you. Check how everything is looking via your camera lens (not just by relying on your eyes) and make sure any relevant sounds and music is being picked up properly.
Keep in mind that with a live event, there’s no storyboarding or multiple takes. You really need to be at the top of your game and like anything, a lot of it comes down to experience. The Just Video Production team has a combined experience of almost 60 years in the video production industry so it’s safe to say we’ve covered our fair share of live events in our time.