Lights, Camera, Action
One of the most exciting projects to shoot are live events. And we approach the holidays, many live events start rolling in. They're full of production value, prime networking opportunities, and a great source for new ideas and techniques. On the other hand, because you only get one shot and no "do-overs", they can be one of the most overwhelming projects if you aren't properly prepared for it.
Here are a few things to remember before lights, camera, action:
What separates a live event from all others is your one chance to get it right. There are no cuts or re-dos, so it's best to prepare for all possible outcomes.
1. Prepare for the worst- Make sure you have all of the necessary equipment to film the entire event. Pack extra batteries, mics, lens, and cords. Sometimes equipment can fail and there is not enough time to troubleshoot. Have a plan B and C ready for action.
2. Contact the venue ahead of time- Map out the location and give yourself some extra time just in case you get lost on the way there. It helps to visit the venue before shoot day.
3. Have client contact on hand- Always keep your clients contact information with you. This goes without saying.
4. Prepare a booking sheet for crew and client- Your booking sheet should have all of the primary information. This includes: time of shoot, location, arrival time, distance from one site to another, crew name and contact, venue contact, etc. You want to always be prepared, have your crew prepared, and reassure to your client that you take your job seriously.
Talk with client the week of event
It's always a good idea to touch bases with your client the week of the event. You want to make sure all details are confirmed and squared away before shoot day. This is also a great time to get some extra questions answered that may not have been covered on the booking sheet.
Make A List, Check It Twice
1. Shot List: It's often times very beneficial to create a shot list. Have an idea of what shots your clients "must have" and a list of B-roll shots. It doesn't hurt to also prepare a list of the proper equipment you made need for each shot. When all else fails, you can never have too much B-roll to save your project.
2. Pick your style: Whether you want to go with a traditional tripod shot, multi-camera, on choosing a more cinematic approach with complex movement and lighting, make sure you have your idea set before you arrive. Most live events require lots of movement and interaction. It's best to mix it up a little. Never stop recording, know your client, find a soundboard, and always choose quality over convenience.
The day of the shoot can be a bit overwhelming if you're pressed for time. Make sure you prepare everything the night before, and arrive to the site early! Here at Lifetime Media, we make sure to arrive 1.5hrs before show time. This gives us time to set up, test audio and all equipment before guests arrive, grab a snack (you'll need it), etc. Once you have all of the essentials together and you're all set to record, make sure to build a relationship with vendors around you. Introduce yourself to the staff on site, venue manager, sound engineer (if one is present), the entertainment (band/artist/speaker), event planner, promoter, or any other person(s) involved with the event. Sometimes you're meeting these people for the first time. The night will go much easier if all vendors are comfortable with each other and work together to make sure the night goes as smoothly as possible. It also helps to have business cards handy. You never know who you will meet.
Live events almost always go past the timeline. Be prepared to stand or sit long hours, skip meals, and fight exhaustion. Make sure you get a good night's sleep, stretch, pack a snack, and hydrate before show time. If you're traveling with a production crew, think of yourselves as a sports team. It's beneficial to not keep your players in the whole game, be sure to keep the team fresh by rotating players throughout the night.
Be A Team Player
Make sure you bring a efficient team with you. Maybe you've contracted some crew members to help with the event. Make sure before the event takes place that you have the synergy needed to have a successful shoot. When you've been working with the same crew for some time, you begin to get familiar with their style, their equipment, their habits. A good team will go a long way. Know who's strengths will help with your weaknesses, and hold each other accountable. Team work makes the dream work.
In the previous blog post, we touched on great ways to be discreet during a live event. It's important to look presentable while also aiming to blend in. Make sure the guests and client are comfortable enough not to perform "staged." You want to make sure any and all subjects are as authentic as possible. [see previous post "Now You See Me Now You Don't"]
Some event spaces require a long haul and lots of transporting. Make sure you pack the essentials so that you can move as freely as possible. Always remember, quality over quantity. Refer to your shot list and only bring what those shots require.
Make sure to take some behind the scenes photos and post them on your social media pages. So much is going on during the event and things can escalate quickly. Capturing a quick shot of the night for your clients, guests, and others to see after the night has passed can go a long way. Not only does it promote the event, it helps your clients gain positive feedback for their next one. Also, more social media followers don't hurt either. ;)
Enjoy The Experience
You should always enjoy all the projects you take on! Some might be more work than others, but if you're doing what you love, it will always be a project you enjoy. Live events take a great deal of preparation, but the outcome is often worth it. Take some time during the event to soak in the moment, remember the experience, and use that to piece together an unforgettable video for your client to view now and years to come.
Have a great Thanksgiving!