Streamline: Why Live Matters
Posted Jan 29, 2010

When it comes to event videography, few things matter more than getting the right shot that captures the moment. Unless it's getting the shot in the moment. Many videographers who specialize in once-in-a-lifetime events-such as weddings, graduations, or concerts-use more than one camera to capture the event. This practice of multicamera shooting is helpful not just from a fail-safe perspective to guarantee the shot, but also for the ability to edit content during the postproduction process for time compression, stylistic impact, or variety.

There are basically two types of live setups that event videographers use. The first is to position multiple cameras in approximately the same spot, at varying focal lengths. This allows a single videographer to simultaneously capture a variety of shots (wide, establishing, pocket close-up, or close-up) from the same angle to use later in the edit. This is a helpful setup for video recording of an interview, for instance, as a single videographer can make adjustments to two close-up cameras for the interviewer/interviewee while allowing a wide-angle camera to statically capture the establishing shot.

A second, more professional setup involves the use of cameras in multiple locations around the room, with each camera either set on a static shot or run by a local camera operator or remote control. This setup is used for a video session in which cameras can't be placed at the same location with enough of a difference between the angles or focal lengths. A good example is a wedding where one camera is placed in the back of the venue, while one or two other cameras are placed at strategic locations to capture the bride and groom.

The shots are then merged together after the event, with some level of editing, as much as the shot varieties allow. But sometimes the variety of shots isn't as great as the videographer would like, based on a few typical mistakes.

In the single-location, multiple-focal-length setup, the lack of variety often results from the unintentional use of two focal lengths that look different when viewed through a viewfinder but are too similar when viewed in a postproduction editing session. In the multiple-location setup, the issue is less that of similar shots and more a problem of failure to communicate between camera operators. In a multiple-location setup, camera operators need to act as if they are shooting a live event for a live production mix, anticipating other camera operators' shots and picking the next naturally occurring action. Otherwise, if two camera operators choose to cover the same action at the same time, shot similarity will result.

Having said all that as a basic introduction, with the emphasis on basic (since most EventDV readers know how to set up multiple cameras), let's consider what it would take to leverage all the work you already put into event videography for a different type of delivery. You already know the downside of multicamera shooting—it takes a significant amount of setup and operation for the benefits that it yields if the only reason that content is shot on multiple cameras is for later editing.

But what if there was a way to take all that time and effort and leverage it into a few extra dollars?

I think there is, and the premise of making more with what you're already doing is the essence of both this new column as well as an entirely new emagazine, EventDVLive, which will launch in mid-February.
Rounding out this introductory column, let's look briefly at two areas where live event production actually makes sense. First, as counterintuitive as it sounds, producing live makes life easier for the event videographer. After setting up all the cameras in a multicamera shot, the use of a live switcher to compare shots may just save significant time in the postproduction process, as the live switching will easily point out inconsistencies in camera angles or shot quality. Additionally, if the videographer creates a basic "rough cut" edit using a disk-based video switching solution (such as the new TriCaster TCXD300), the ability to use this rough cut as part of the postproduction edit can save hours of editing time. With practice, and a good communication system between camera operators, the use of a live switcher may eliminate the need for any postproduction editing for the main event, saving the editing tasks for more stylized add-on products that command a premium dollar amount.

Second, IMAG, or image magnification, is a natural byproduct of multicamera setups. Combined with live switching and a robust character generator (such as those built into the TriCaster series), the IMAG can provide additional visual reinforcement during a live event. Several event videographers I know use the IMAG abilities of their multiple-camera setup to add visual impact to concerts, often charging almost double their standard recording and editing rate for little more than the inclusion of a switcher and a single operator.

I'll cover more reasons why live makes sense in my first blog post on EventDVLive (www.eventdvlive.com). In my next EventDV column, I'll cover the reasons to consider an online video platform (OVP) as a way to earn additional revenues for viewers who aren't able to attend the live event.

Tim Siglin  (writer at braintrustdigital.com) is chairman of Braintrust Digital, a digital media production company, and co-founder of consulting firm Transitions, Inc. He consults on digital media “go to market” strategies and also blogs on metadata issues at www.workflowed.com.