Just like in real estate, videotaping an event is all about Location! Location! Location!
For video production, Location, Location! Location! translates into:
Where do you set up the camera?
Often, videographers who are taping an event do not have the luxury to be mobile since they’re actually part of an audience. In these situations, you will need to be stationary for the entire event so put some thought into picking a strategic location for getting both the best video image and best audio signal.
If you are taping a school play or anything else happening in a large room, the best location is usually the back of the room on a tripod. If you are in an auditorium with a balcony, get in the balcony. The high angle you get from the balcony is a great shot. Plus, no one can get in your way and block your shot if you are in the balcony.
Whatever you are taping, find that location that is the equivalent of a seat on the 50-yard line of a football game. Where can you see everything that’s going on?
Beyond what angel you’re getting of the action, another thing to consider when setting up your camera is where can you pick up the best sound?
Plug your audio into the event’s audio system if possible. You will get the cleanest, crispest sound that way with no audience noise. Audio boards are often in balconies, which gives two stars for that location!
If you are planning to film an event, it is a good idea to have a good flow of communication with those who are providing the audio for the event. My friend was recently working on doing some videography for an event working with a company and after some planning and understanding of what the audio team was doing it better prepared him for his shot placements.
Plugging into an audio board usually takes an XLR cable plus an adapter to knock the decibel level down from a line level to a mic level. This is about a 50 dB drop and it takes a small resistor to knock it down. If you do not have this, the audio will sound distorted as most cameras can not handle a line level audio signal. The really expensive kinds can.
It’s always a good idea to check the location out ahead of time to make sure you know exactly what it will take to plug into their audio system. The audio board output might also need a different type of plug such as 1/4 inch stereo plug.
If the balcony or back of the room won’t work, it might be best to set up very close to the stage. This, of course, depends on your specific location.
It also depends on whether you are taping it to present as an entire play or just to get highlights of a particular actor. If you are taping a small event, getting close to the action will enable you to pick up decent sound with just an on-camera a shot gun microphone and you do not need to worry about plugging into the audio board.
You might think about setting up near a speaker if they have large loud speakers scattered about the auditorium. Setting up near a speaker (or setting your mic near the speaker) is second best for getting good sound. The best way is to plug into their audio board like I mentioned already.
If you do not have a good location for picking up sound, the on-board camera mic audio will be muffled and hard to hear. People HATE having to strain to hear the audio. They’ll put up with less-than-stellar video quality but if the sound is lousy, they’ll tune out.
So get close to the actual audio source with your mic or plug into the audio system.
To get good video, use a tripod no matter what kind of camera you use.
Steady video is critical. Many amateur videographers never seem to get that simple fact! Shaky video that is constantly moving is the sure sign of an amateur. Plus it will make the audience sea sick! Really, it will.
Shooting off a tripod is even more important when you are zooming in, which you will no doubt do when videotaping an event. The longer your lens setting, the more shaky the video looks. A fully zoomed in shot will be shaky as heck unless you use a tripod.
I hope these tips help you! For further assistance, please contact me to set up some one-on-one consultation time.
Thanks and good luck with your video project!
Internet Video Gal