As an event planner, you are a master at the details. You take pride in ensuring that every project you are a part of runs smoothly and that every event that you put on is one that people don’t forget. Your strategy almost definitely includes some type of video content. Whether it’s content prepared to play at your event or content captured during the event, the right production team is crucial.
The most important step to finding the right team is asking the right questions. Here are five questions you should ask a potential video partner to see if they’re a perfect fit.
1. What's Their Specialty?
No two events are equal, and production teams are no different. The most important thing you need to consider when choosing the right video partner is expertise. What does this company do best? Are they specialized in event coverage? What kinds of events have they covered in the past? A company who shoots music festival content might not be the best fit for your corporate panel discussion. Everything from the equipment they use to the size of the team they bring out is completely dependent on the style of event covered.
The best way to make a judgement call is to ask to see their portfolio. Your first look at their portfolio or demo reel will determine whether or not their work is credible and professional and is relevant to your project.
Remember, the goal of this exercise to determine fit. Beautiful work is great, but if what they do doesn’t exactly fit with what you need, you’re taking on some risk with your production. Suited expertise is absolutely key to having a smooth shoot.
Make sure you ask specifically what their role was in the productions in their reel. It’s important to know that your cinematographer shot the content in their reel and didn’t edit it or direct it.
In this event sizzle we created for Boston Pizza, we shot and edited every single frame.
2. Who’s On Their Team?
What’s more important than all that fancy gear you’ll be using? The people behind it. Find out as much as you can about the team who will be at your event. How many people are they? What is everyone responsible for? Have they worked together before?
In some instances, a standalone camera operator might be all you need, but in other situations, a larger team is an absolute must. More often than not, it takes a few pairs of hands on deck to keep your shoot running smoothly.
On top of your cinematographer or videographer, your video production team could include a producer, director, additional camera operators, camera assistants, sound recordists, etc. If your event is large in scope, expect to have more than one camera, people to operate them and someone to coordinate all the moving parts.
Always establish one person as your main point of contact. This will usually be a producer or production coordinator. They will be a liaison between you and the team, and will ensure that the crew is capturing everything you need.
In addition to the team capturing content, do they have a person responsible for editing? Find out if their editing will be done by someone on the team, or if it is being outsourced.
While this role doesn’t always need a dedicated person, someone should be in charge of data management. Often called a DIT, they will offload all footage onto hard drives, organize it and be responsible for making sure nothing gets lost along the way.
3. What Are You Shooting On?
One of the most common questions we get is “What are you shooting on?” Our answer is always “It depends”. It’s important to determine early on that your production partner is properly equipped to handle the special needs of your project. For example, do elements of your event need to be captured in low light? Do you want some of your footage in slow motion? Do you need your outputs to be in 4k? These are the technical questions you need to keep in mind when planning out your shoot.
On top of technical requirements, you need to be mindful of the space you are working in. If your event is going to be crowded, or the cameraperson will be limited to a small work space, make sure your equipment choices reflect that. A large rig isn’t ideal if space is limited, but can be beneficial if space is not a factor.
Equipment doesn’t end with the camera body itself. Consider what kind of movement you need that camera to perform. If you are covering a grand spectacle, you might be looking at capturing aerial footage with a drone. If you need to weave through tight-knit crowds, find out if your team has a gimbal. These can range in size and operational needs. Our top pick is the Osmo X5R, a small gimbal that shoots in 4K and has professional-grade image quality.
By no means do you need to be a technical expert, but you want to make sure that they’ve got what it takes to execute your vision successfully.
When shooting in low-light circumstances, make sure you choose a camera with a large sensor. This is particularly important when you want to avoid distracting lights impacting the environment.
We shot this video for Intel in a party in a dark nightclub. We used the Sony A7S, known for its great low-light capabilities. We were able to capture great looking footage and didn’t rely on a single light.
4. What About Sound?
Sound is your secret weapon when it comes to creating polished content. All too often, audio takes second fiddle to image, but that’s a rookie mistake. Studies show that people will put up with so-so image quality, but they’ll tune out and turn off if you provide them with low-quality sound.
Find out how your team is recording sound. Will this be the role of the camera operator, or do they have a dedicated sound person? Do they have the ability to wire into your sound board? Do they have lavaliere mics for interviews?
Make your production team aware of any important sound opportunities like speeches, live music or performances, and make sure that they’re prepared well in advance to capture great sound.
If you plan to capture sound-bites of guests and event participants, make sure they have the ability to capture crisp, clean and isolate sound even if the room is noisy—and it often is.
You’re almost certainly capturing b-roll (supporting footage) of the event, make sure you’re recording location audio as well. Great environmental sounds, like the clinking of wine glasses or the chatter and laughter or guests, will add an extra dimension of richness to your content. We put sound centre stage in this “Sights & Sounds” video for the Culinary Ontario Festival.
When conducting interviews at an event, it’s best to have both a lavaliere mic and a boom running. Double coverage means that you have a backup if the audio on one feed is not clear. This is particularly important when you’re in a loud and uncontrolled space.
5. What's the Plan for Post-Production?
Capturing great footage is only half the battle. Now you need to turn it into content. Post-production is where the magic happens. This is also where you need to ask a lot of questions (well in advance of the event).
The first question should be: Who is editing the project and what’s their experience level? It’s important to note that some production companies don’t cut their own content, or rely on outsourcing the edit to a third party. If this is the case, you need to make sure that this editor has a proven track record and has experience creating the type of content you need.
We found that having an editor on site during production is extremely valuable. This allows them to go through the footage in real time and make sure that all the elements are there to tell a great story. This can also save a lot of time in the post-production process.
Another benefit to having an editor on site is to produce same day edits. A same day edit is content produced in near real-time, highlighting or recapping the day’s activities. People love to see themselves on the big screen and a same day edit is the perfect way to accomplish that.
The next question you need to ask yourself (and your production partner) is: What does the final product look like?
Are you creating a sizzle of your event to spread awareness for next time? Is it an important panel discussion that will be used as an educational tool? Does there need to be music or graphics? Where will this content be seen and who will see it?
Whether your production team is working from your detailed brief, creating from scratch or executing somewhere in between, a roadmap needs to be established ahead of time.
Throughout your event, you and your team will be capturing some great moments. When it comes time to edit, it’s helpful to be able to give your editor a list of selects or “must-use” moments. This ensures that nothing important is left out, and helps to streamline their editing process.
Assign someone on your team to be responsible for keeping track of these moments, making notes of clip or scene numbers.
We think these five questions are a good starting point, but by no means should your inquiry end here. The more specific you can get with your questions, the better. Your event is unique and will have working parts that require a deeper dig.
Our most successful shoots are always the ones where our client gets involved and wants to be informed. With every new project, we have plenty of questions for our client too. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions from your video partner as well. If all the important details are communicated prior to the event, you and your video partner can spend that valuable time focused on capturing the best footage with a roadmap set in place already.
In this article, we focused on answering questions about covering your event. However, that is not the only role video can play. Clients often ask us to create video ahead of time to present at their events. These videos can range from special messages to the guests to recap videos of the past year at a company to videos of executives and key stakeholders goofing off to a fun song.
Stay tuned for our Event Planner’s Guide to Video Part Two, where we dive into how to make engaging and entertaining in-event content.