When lead singer Freddie Mercury looked out at the crowd, his gaze met 72,000 arm-waving fans. That number, while undeniably impressive, is tiny compared with the viewership in homes across the world.
Before the big day – albeit with much less notice than they would have liked (Live Aid was organised in just 10 weeks) – the production team tackled the problem of how to film an event taking place in two countries simultaneously, and broadcast it to 150 countries without interruption.
It was a herculean task. But it was also a monumental success.
An estimated 1.9 billion people, more than a third of the world’s population at the time, tuned in.
Simply put, Live Aid was unmissable, and filming it was the difference between 72,000 and 1.9 billion.
Returning to the present, you may also have an event on the horizon. Perhaps it’s a small conference, a product launch, or a gala dinner. You’ve probably finalised all the in-person details: who’s speaking, how long for, about which topics, and how many guests are attending.
But if you haven’t considered the whys and hows of filming your event – whether it’s as a live stream or a highlights reel – you could be missing out on the opportunity to reach new audiences and grow your brand.
This article will explain what filming an event involves, why some companies are missing a trick by not investing in capturing their event, and how filming it is just as important as the event itself.
What does filming an event involve?
Filming an event involves a person or team of people capturing an event on video, which can then be shared with a wider audience who weren’t in attendance.
20 years ago, unless you had a huge budget, your only option was to create footage that could be viewed afterwards. Today, you can broadcast live without breaking the bank. After all, there are lots of platforms – such as Instagram, Youtube and Twitch that allow you to stream footage quickly and easily.
Some videographers use expensive equipment; others stick to a simple camera and steady tripod setup. Both types recognise the numerous benefits of filming your event and going live or creating a highlights reel.
Let’s take a look at those benefits a little closer.
What are the benefits of filming an event?
There are plenty of good reasons to film your event, most of which relate to audience engagement:
Even the best events must end, but yours doesn’t have to. When the tables are cleared away, the microphone is packed up and the guests leave, an event risks being forgotten. After all, studies suggest that we forget 50% of new information within an hour of learning it, 70% after 24 hours, and 90% a week later.
By capturing an event on video, your audience can relive the product launch, relisten to the lecture given by your keynote speaker, or revisit the awards ceremony for many years to come. Their continued engagement with your event will increase brand awareness, potentially extending your reach into untapped markets.
Rich content is defined as media that features sound, images, video, or a combination of all three. While this is a group that includes podcasts, animated GIFs and infographics, by far the most successful format is video. According to research, video content generates higher engagement rates than both text and image content combined. That fact should not be too surprising: after all, approximately 80% of 2022’s internet traffic came from video sources.
Whether you want to create a montage from your gala dinner or capture a TED-style lecture featuring your keynote speaker, your video will have the advantage of being more shareable and engaging than other media formats, especially if you create snippets of 15-20 seconds in length, which can be used to promote the next event.
Not everyone will be able to attend your event in person.
In fact, during the pandemic, nobody could. That’s why virtual events increased by 1,000% and haven’t shown any signs of dropping back down.
In our post-pandemic era, some invitees will simply have alternative commitments, while others might be located too far away or find out about it only after it’s taken place. By filming your event, those who might otherwise have missed it have the opportunity to attend in the virtual world.
If they follow your brand on social channels, many of those who can’t attend in person will receive a notification telling them that you’ve gone live. For those who have simply forgotten about your event – and therefore not planned to be there – a live stream notification can give them a second opportunity to get involved.
Sitting at home watching your event on their mobile, computer or tablet, they might be incentivised to RSVP ‘yes’ next time.
Studies suggest that approximately 30% of people who watch a recorded event say they would like to attend the same event the following year. Furthermore, because your video content – whether a highlights reel or a full live stream – will remain evergreen (appearing new to fresh audiences), your marketing budget will stretch further – a key consideration as business leaders begin to tighten their belts in the face of recession.
Top tips on how to film an event
1. Decide on a style and stick to it
The best event videos have a clearly defined style.
What we mean is that the overall video should suit the event you are filming. For example, if your event is a TED-style lecture in a seated auditorium, it is unlikely that an action-packed video that cuts from one shot to another in quick succession will be suitable. Instead, a stable tripod and a couple of different angles to keep the video interesting will reduce distractions and allow the audience to focus on the content delivered by the speaker.
That lecture style of delivery would be very suitable for a live stream. After all, the room’s attention is likely to be on one person for an extended period of time.
On the other hand, a video that captures the energy of a gala dinner is likely to feature a more diverse range of camera angles, subjects, and visual effects. Perhaps less suitable for a live stream (after all, a live stream of people eating their meal isn’t likely to go viral), that gala dinner would be perfect for a highlights compilation.
What sets those two examples apart? Their intent. A lecture video exists primarily to inform, whereas footage of a gala dinner or awards ceremony is more likely to be used as a tool for engagement.
2. Know your equipment
When thinking about how to film an event, equipment is quite possibly the most important consideration. Yes, the price tag matters – it would be naive to pretend that top-quality videos can be filmed on a shoestring budget – but what also matters is that you are familiar with your equipment.
A few questions to test your equipment familiarity might include:
- Do you know how to adjust the ISO (light sensitivity) on your camera to a higher level without the footage becoming unpleasantly grainy?
- Do you know how to change the shutter speed to prevent banding under LED lights?
- If you are using the automatic settings, how will you account for the change in colour temperature between the inside and outside?
- At what volume of audio input does your microphone experience over-modulation?
- If your subject is moving, how will you ensure that the footage remains stable?
3. Focus on Sound
According to research conducted by the Audio Engineering Society, low-quality audio impacts our perception of the overall video significantly. As viewers, we can forgive poor-quality footage far more easily than we can poor-quality audio. For example, if you are interviewing an event attendant outside, your footage will be impacted substantially by the sound of wind, traffic, or nearby conversation.
Even in a quiet lecture hall, when it comes to recording your keynote speaker, the position of your microphone will dictate whether the end result is as captivating as they are, or whether it is entirely unwatchable.
To eliminate unwanted noise, consider filming in a controlled environment, such as a sound booth or a private room.
4. Take plenty of B-roll
For a highlights reel, footage that you capture can be divided into two groups: A-roll and B-roll.
A-roll – This group includes all of your primary footage, driving the narrative of your video along. It tells the story, and might include interviews with event attendees or a recorded lecture.
B-roll – It is here that you will find your secondary footage. B-roll can help to set the scene of an event, cover a transition from one interview question to another, and add meaning and context to the audio.
Say you have recorded an interview, and want to crop the answer slightly. If you included only A-roll, your viewer would notice that the interviewee’s posture changes significantly and suddenly with each cut. To avoid this, you could use some B-roll footage to cover the cuts, and blend one bit of A-roll footage with another.
How much B-roll do I need for my event video?
The golden rule when it comes to B-roll is to shoot enough B-roll to cover six times the total video length. If you are aiming to produce a two-minute video, 12 minutes of B-roll will suffice.
5. Apply the rule of two
There is always a danger that you will miss the vital shot when filming an event. The reason could be as simple as being in the wrong place at the right time, or a camera that refuses to work just as the curtain is lifted to reveal the new product. To minimise the chances of missing out and disappointing those eager viewers who are watching at home, our advice is come ready with extra equipment just in case. .
And always, always, always back up your footage!
Applying our tips to some scenarios:
Scenario #1 – How to film an event at a racing track
This is an event that will likely be visually impressive, but audibly challenging. Finding a private room to conduct any interviews will keep you away from the burning rubber, and make sure that your message doesn’t get lost in the noise.
If you choose to live stream the race, keep your camera positioned in a place that can capture most of the action – such as facing down a long straight or focusing in on a tight, competitive bend.
You should also remember that people watching at home on the live stream will want to comment. It’s a fact that will boost your engagement significantly. Where possible, your brand should respond to those comments, making the viewers feel just as much a part of an event as those who have attended in person.
Scenario #2 – How to film an event in a lecture hall
While you won’t have to contend with the audio challenges of a racing track, you may find it tricky to capture the necessary variety of B-roll footage. Consider filming the arrival of the attendees, their reactions to the speaker, and their reaction as the event comes to an end.
Scenario #3 – How to film an event in a bar or restaurant
A working example of this setting might be capturing your company’s Christmas party, providing your social media followers with a glimpse into your corporate culture. If your event falls on a Friday night, don’t leave it until Monday to back up the footage. Minimise the chances of losing anything by shooting on two cameras, and by making sure the footage is transferred onto multiple storage devices as soon as possible.
It’s unlikely that an event such as a professional mixer or dinner will be suitable for live streaming. That’s because there are very few people who would want to sit and watch people eating dinner or having candid conversations. If you do choose to live stream these types of events, make sure your viewer has something interesting to watch.
Live Aid might be a world away from your event, but the fundamental principles of what made it great to watch on video remain the same. Viewers would have turned off in droves if the sound quality was poor, or it was filmed from the back row of the arena on a shaky handheld camera. Had the footage been lost or not existed in the first place, it may have been forgotten about entirely – yet instead, Live Aid has found a prominent position in pop culture and on Youtube, where the footage continues to receive thousands of views each day.
Learning how to film an event effectively can open the door to new opportunities. It can broaden your audience, provide you with rich, shareable content, and preserve the event for the future. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of filming your next event, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.