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Event Videos

Making an archive of your organization's history that includes video in addition to still photographs and newspaper clippings can be useful. A videotape will not fit into a scrapbook, but a CD or DVD will. Putting together a few clips from the company picnic, awards ceremony or footage of your program in action and posting it on your website is not much more complicated than posting still photos. A short, well thought out video can make your site far more dynamic and compelling than photographs and text alone. What's more, being able to show video of program participants on the job and/or testifying about how helpful the program has been can be invaluable when it comes time to convince people with money that your organization should be funded. So, the next time your organization sponsors an event marking an accomplishment, to recruit participants or to educate the public about a particular issue, consider capturing it on video. Not only is it a good way to keep a record of your organization's history, it will also allow you to publicize the issue behind the event for an indefinite period of time.

Here are some tips if you want to make an event tape with DC Visions & Video Exchange or tips you can follow, if you decide to go it alone.

Cameras & Camera Operators

Capturing an event or the daily workings of your program will require at least one video camera and a camera operator. What kind of camera is used depends on where you plan to display your project. If you know that you're going to put some portion of your footage on television, then you'll want to rent a 3-chip, or high-definition camera. If you're pretty certain that it's only going to be distributed through the web, then any consumer camcorder will do, so long as the scenes are well lit and the camera work is steady.

If you're videotaping a staged event, you might want to use more than one camera; this will give you more editing options. With two cameras, you can capture the event on the stage from at least two angles and any variety of distances. (Here's a tip: If you want footage from two cameras to cut together, then you'll need at least a 30 degree angle difference between the two cameras as well as close-ups, medium shots and long shots.) You can also dedicate at least one camera to capturing audience reactions. Of course, if the auditorium is too dimly lit, then it's generally not worth the effort. If you can work with event organizers to see to it that the stage, at least, is well lit, then you're ahead of the game. Videotaping audience reactions or interviewing participants before and after the event can yield your most valuable footage, but often requires the use of an external microphone and possibly one or more lights.

If you're pretty certain of a return on your investment, if you plan to make a DVD to sell to parents for instance, then it may very well be worth the added expense of an extra camera or even two additional cameras if you're videotaping a performance. (see 3-camera set up) Using more cameras will give you more editing options, but it also means that you and/or your editor will spend more time organizing and editing the extra footage. If you're hiring an editor, this can get expensive. Also, any technical issues that must be solved with one camera will also need to be solved with a second or third camera. You may find that you're not only renting an extra camera, you're also renting more lights, another microphone, tripod, etc.

Microphones

The on-camera microphone will work unless you decide you want to capture conversations, comments or interviews, in which case you'll probably want to rent an external microphone. The cameraperson can capture conversations and comments reasonably well with a shotgun microphone attached to the camera. It will not entirely eliminate crowd noises, music or traffic that might interfere with your speakers, but it will do a better job than the on-camera microphone, which is designed to pick up all the sounds surrounding the camera and not just the subject of your shot.

A better option for capturing interviews or comments is a hand-held microphone. This requires that someone other than the cameraperson hold the microphone and asks for comments or conducts interviews. If you plan on interviews but don't want to use a second crew person, then a lavalier or lapel microphone is your best option. This requires a little extra set up time, while your attaching the microphone to the speaker's clothing. The up side to this is that you can also use this time to think about composition and place your speaker where the lighting is optimal.

If you decide you want all the video captured to be candid, capturing conversations with a microphone attached to a boom is yet another option. If you want a combination of candid conversations and interviews then the boom is probably your best choice. Like the hand-held microphone the boom will also require a second person. Operating a boom takes some coordination between the cameraperson and sound person, so I wouldn't recommend it if your sound person has no boom operating experience.

Proper use of a hand-held or boom microphone will improve your sound quality and ultimately your editing options. It also has the added advantage of freeing up the cameraperson to concentrate on the technical aspects of videotaping as well as artistic things like good composition and lighting.

Lights & Lighting

You can't count on a nice overcast sky to even out the shadows for you. For outdoor shoots, it's a good idea to carry a reflective bounceboard, especially if you're planning to conduct interviews. If you're in a park, shading your subjects in the trees can help even things out, but sometimes causes white balance issues. If you're covering a street fair or a demonstration, then finding shade might not be an option.

Even with a broadcast quality camera, most indoor shoots are considered low-light situations. You may have a consumer camera that's marketed as capturing images in very low light. This may be true, but chances are good that your images will still look grainy if you're shooting indoors. Unless your shooting outdoors (where shadows or over-exposure can become a problem) or in a very brightly lit room with lots of overhead lights and white or off-white walls, then you'll probably want to consider enhancing the light in the environment.

Wedding videographers often use an on-camera light. This is the harshest option and has a tendency to call attention to the camera. On the other hand, no one is going to trip over a light cable that isn't properly taped down. There's no time needed to set up or take down lights. So, your subjects are caught in a spot light, at least they aren't grainy or worse, completely hidden away in the shadows.

Another option is a few well-placed lights on stands or hanging from clamps. Ideally, this will boost the amount of light in the room without completely destroying the atmosphere of the event. Making this work takes some time, some skill and some extra cash. If your lights are hung too low and they are showing up in every other shot (blasting away the pixels in your camera) then maybe it's not worth it. Which option is best, depends on your resources. If your crew has experience with lighting equipment, then you're okay. If you don't, then it's a risk.

Editing

If you're shooting and editing your own footage then you'll need a computer and an editing program to complete your project. A basic editing program for PCs is MovieMaker and for Macintosh, I-Movie. If you want to put together a few clips for your website, then either of these programs should work for you. If you're working on something longer and you don't trust your own skills to carry you through or meet the needs of your project, then you should hire an editor. If you use DC Visions to shoot your footage, then we'll go through the footage with you, give you some ideas about how it might be used and an estimation of what it will take to create a usable finished product.

Contact us via e-mail at Mail@DCVisions.org