Filming a live presentation – what you need to know

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I’ve had a few companies contact me lately to ask “how much does it cost to film a live presentation?”

As usual there are a few questions I need to ask to give a relevant response. So I thought it might be useful to compile some of the things you might want to think about if you want a presentation filmed.

What will the recording be used for?

As with all video productions, the first question to ask is “What is the purpose of this video”?

Will this be:

  • A 60 seconds highlights of the presentation to use for promoting the next one?
  • Is it the entire presentation so that others can watch it in its entirety?
  • Is it a 5-10 highlights of key points from the presentation?

Regardless you will need some editing and some filming considerations.

Filming considerations

While it might seem simple to film it first and decide later, you can create a lot of problems if you haven’t considered how it is to be used. Different filming styles will be needed depending on your finished product. For example, if you just need a 60 second highlights, then a single camera operator could move around the room, filming the audience, filming the presenter, filming sponsors, filming wide shots of the stage, various close ups of the audience.

This will enable them to cut together an energetic compile. However it won’t be suitable if you need a record of the entire presentation.

If the audience questions are a big part of the what you need, then you might want to consider a second camera to film to the audience. This could be a locked off camera (unmanned) that just captures a wide shot of the room, or a manned camera that allows you to film close ups of audience members as they ask questions.

Including PowerPoint Presentations

If a large part of the information to be recorded includes the PowerPoint slides then we recommend two options for this.

Option 1 is a cost effective solution that relies on just a single camera. Each time the slide changes the camera operator does a quick pan to the screen to identify what the slide is. Then they quickly pan back to the presenter. In the edit this quick pan is the cue for the editor to insert that slide full screen into the presentation. This allows a high resolution version of the slide to be inserted. This method of filming will work very well when it is intended to insert the slides during the editing. If however, after the filming you change your mind then it’s going to look odd that the camera does a quick pan to the screen every time the slides change. So once again be clear on what you are doing before you start.

Option 2 is to set up a second camera that films a wide shot of the screen and the presenter. This will then allow you to see when the slides change and what slides needs to be inserted. It also provides a different video angle of the proceedings.  This is another piece of equipment to factor into the budget. It does however give you more options, as camera 1 will focus solely on the presenter the whole time. It also requires more time in the edit suite as we need to process two cameras at once.

Permission to use slides and to film

If you intend to include the presenter’s PowerPoint slides then you will need their permission. This is much easier to obtain at the initial negotiation stage. Generally if you are paying someone to present and they have agreed to be filmed (don’t forget to ask and get this confirmed), then they will let you use their presentation. However some presenters are very precious about this and won’t allow it. In this case you might want to consider if it is worth filming them at all.

Tips about creating PowerPoint slides

Although the following recommendations are  specifically for video they are useful to consider for any PowerPoint presentation.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 10.49.22 amCreate slides in 16 x 9 (widescreen aspect). You can do this by selecting File>Page Setup then choose from the drop down menu.

More often than not, screens at venues will be set for widescreen presentation. Videos are widescreen these days so the slides will integrate better.

Also use minimal text for your slides. Strong images with a key word or phrase will keep your audience engaged much better than a page of text.

Use large fonts and thick lines. If you are creating graphs or using text keep the lines large and thick. The fine details you can see on your computer screen can get lost in a big room and on a video. Have a look at your computer screen from 5 metres away and see if you can still understand the message of your slide.

Editing Options

So depending on what you require from the completed this will affect what type of editing and filming is required.

If you don’t need the slides inserted then you might just want a title graphic and a closing graphic.

If you need something more professional for say, an external audience, then we might be required to insert all the slides at the appropriate time and sometimes it is necessary to remove some inappropriate comments from the presenter or the audience.

Also if we are to insert questions from the audience then we will need to match up that camera with the other angles.

Repurposing content

Once you have the event recorded, then you have an asset that can be repurposed for other uses. This includes creating an audio only version. Many people these days find it easily to consume content via their phone while they commute or exercise. An audio only version is another way to put the content into the ears of your audience.

Audio Considerations

Also speaking of audio, it is an often overlooked priority. Without decent audio, you recording is useless. It’s easy enough to attach a lapel microphone to the presenter. However if you have multiple presenters then you should have a PA system and the video recording will need to get an audio feed from that.

Also if you are intending to have questions from the audience then you will need to organise microphones (probably hand held wireless mics) so that the questions can be heard not just by the people in the room, but by the camera via the sound desk.

Final Thoughts

So be clear on what need the video for. This will often drive the domino effect of issues that will take into account number of cameras, number of camera operators, time required for editing and what the finished product will be.

If you are looking for some creative solutions to get your clients to take the critical next step, give us a call on

About Geoff Anderson

About Geoff Anderson

Geoff Anderson is the owner of Sonic Sight and has been producing videos for 30 years. He is an author, presenter as well as a video producer.

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