I’ve filmed at some of the UK’s biggest conference venues for all manner of corporate event videos – team building videos, promotional videos, customer testimonial videos, you name it. Whether it’s Birmingham NEC, London ExCeL, Earl’s Court, Twickenham or Silverstone, guaranteed I’ve stayed at a Travelodge within a 2 mile radius to make an event video.
Each event video production is totally unique in the challenges it throws up to a camera operator and/or video editor. Although some clients and event videographers alike see event edits as a straightforward cookie-cutter type of filmmaking, that’s not always the case. A three minute highlights edit of the best bits of an event interspersed with positive vox pops and upbeat music – can’t be too difficult to pull off, can it? But throw in the hectic (and frequently overrunning) schedules of a live event, the several places a cameraman needs to be at one time, inconsistent lighting between rooms, background noise of delegates, long days without sunlight and tight edit deadlines make producing a consistent and event promotional film quite a challenge.
Here’s a few of the techniques I’ve used over the years to pull together an engaging and effective conference video.
Coverage from all angles makes for a better event video
If you want an editor to love you, a camera operator needs to get good coverage. By coverage, I mean literally covering the same moment from as many different angles as possible to give the editor plenty of options in the edit. Ask any editor who’s been missing a vital cutaway or alternative angle and they’ll know what I mean!
For example, when filming for an event highlights video, it may not be necessary to capture the seminars in full, just a few shots of the speaker will do. That’s why I take these opportunities to get as much coverage of the speaker as possible, as illustrated in the photo below which were all captured during the same event.
Time may not always be on your side, but when it is I use it. By changing lenses frequently to capture unique shots and experimenting with new approaches, I always end up with more interesting shots and better creative options in the edit. Yes, it always gives me over 3 hours of footage for a 3 minute film, but I’d always prefer to get the coverage than be an editor’s worst nightmare!
Positive vox pop interviews tell a great story
For most corporate films, interviews form the backbone of an edit. They tell the viewer the story and communicate key messages through informal, short, snappy sound bites. Whilst interviews are usually arranged well in advance for most corporate films, the usual approach at an event is to capture as many off-the-cuff vox pop interviews as possible.
Interview delegates and attendees and you’ll get positive, unbiased comments about the event that you wouldn’t be able to get if you’d interviewed the event organiser or the client. Ideally I’d be working with a professional producer but when this isn’t the case, an assistant from the events team will tend to help me out in grabbing victims/volunteers to interview and ask the questions beside the camera too. The questions are generally asked in the order they will appear in the edit, something along the lines of:
- Tell me what’s happening here today (Establishes the event)
- Tell me about the workshops/keynote speakers/exhibition (Outline key points)
- What have you enjoyed most about today? (Feed in personal thoughts into the above points)
- What would you say to anyone thinking of attending next time? (strong call to action)
The hectic nature of events means I’m always kept on my toes and usually have a very small window of opportunity to grab these vital shots. One trick I learnt from a camera operator some years back was to simply start rolling the camera, approach a delegate (as if you’re a journalist door stepping a politician) and launch into questions without giving them chance to say no. Always making sure I signed a release form after of course!
Make the edit unique
Turnaround for a corporate event edit is often super fast, I’ve been known to create many onsite edits for clients and deliver the final edit during the event. Three solid days in a hotel room at Twickenham leap to mind! But with edit technology developing as it is and more demand from clients for creativity, a conference edit needs to be turned around fast but also it needs to be more than just a series of shots.
I like to use motion graphics in every film I make – whether it’s elegant name straps and on-brand transitions, or motion tracked graphics and a fully animated intro sequence, motion graphics add immense production value to a conference film. If I can’t get a steer from the client on visual style, I’ll do my research into existing films they have, take a look at their website and other branding materials to get a feel for the brand. Even for onsite event editing, producing motion graphics in advance is always worthwhile as it gives you more time to focus on the edit when the clock is ticking.
The desire to put outdated corporate-sounding music or chart music on event videos is a creative choice I’ve never supported, as both tend to either cheapen the video or make it seem dated pretty quickly. I use Audio Network for music in my films as it gives me access to a catalogue of thousands of high quality, creative music pieces – the same catalogue that is used by the broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Sky. Also, by having a blanket licence, I can download as many tracks as I need for each film and it won’t rocket the cost up. Occasionally sound effects and transition noises add a little bit of flavour too.
A corporate event video is probably the most cost effective promotional film a clients can choose– they have minimum pre production costs, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of advocates of your brand attending to say nice things about you on camera and the footage can be incorporated into countless edits over time. By separating out customer vox pops from one event I filmed at, I created over 15 customer testimonial films for the client in additional to the promotion film they wanted!
I’m frequently on the road to London, Birmingham, Manchester and around the East Midlands filming and editing event films for clients. Get in touch if you want to chat!