So how do you create a great event video?
1. THE CONCEPT
Everything starts with an idea, and ideas need to be relevant. The origin of any concept comes from the information you receive from the client. This initial information can be obtained from a meeting and or a brief (in my opinion a brief is invaluable). You get an idea of the target audience, platform, the client’s identity and the event itself. From there you can start to get a picture of what video is the right video. What equipment, what visual style, what pace, what emotion. Once a direction is chosen; bringing the concept to life becomes the main focus making the whole process much more fluid.
2. THE TRACK
Now the following statement is only relevant to videos that have a soundtrack or music which is about 99.9% of event videos – The music you choose for your event video is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT CHOICES!! Why? It defines the tone for the images to go with, it sets the rhythm to cut to, it creates the pace of the video and informs the overall feel. So yeah, a lot of time and attention should go into the selection of the right track or tracks.
What music does naturally is create a feel, an emotion. Each song has its own themes, crescendos and diminuendos; don’t think of it as just a song but the soundtrack to your movie. The main difference here is that in the case of an event video the track is put on first – but more on that later.
3. THE LOOK
True; any and all events can be unpredictable but one thing that should be directed carefully is the look. Everything should have a look.
In case you’re not quite sure what falls under the wide umbrella term of “the look”; here it is:
- Shot choices – they change how the viewer interprets the event. Close ups can be both dramatic and intimate where as long shots can appear more voyeuristic.
- Camera movement – handheld shots can add a bit of rawness where steadicam shots glide smoothly.
- Focus – sharp focus makes a statement where focus pulls can be an emotive creative device.
- Light – true light gives a sense of realism where a slightly blown out look, for example, can add an angelic feel.
Lens flares, anamorphic flares, streaks, slow motion, colour schemes. They are all important in considering a look and all say something different about your video. Once you have a clear vision of the look you want to achieve; you and your crew will be able to shoot the video in the style of what your intended outcome will be.
4. THE EQUIPMENT
With the concept and look nailed down you then have to select the right equipment to achieve it. Knowledge of film equipment is an obvious must, however knowledge of practical equipment is a different story.
What are your needs? What equipment will you need at what location at what time? The answers to these questions can significantly change the equipment you end up using. Tripods are great but not in tightly populated areas. ND filters are essential but impractical if you have inconsistent light and lots to film without breaks. Choices should be based on practicality.
When it comes to achieving the look it’s best to approach your equipment in the same way you would a music video or a film. What lens is best for a shallow depth of field? What light could I use that won’t flatten the image? What filter creates the perfect streak? What rig gives me the smoothest shots?
Using your concept as the core and practicality as a guide; choosing the right equipment becomes that much easier.
5. THE SHOOT
To be honest I could write an entire article about this topic alone but in this case I’ll just cover the main areas.
Know the event. Yes it sounds simple but an intimate knowledge of the event will make life SO much easier! Where is it? Always a good start. Event map, learn it well. Timings, this is something you need to stay on top of especially if you have to film certain acts. What people will be at this event? This is usually informed by the type of music – funny and true.
Have a base. You and your crew will have lots of equipment that you can’t carry with you all the time, you’ll need a base. Not just for storage but for copying footage, checking footage, changing rigs and adjusting equipment. You’ll need a secure place away from other people to make life easier.
Be greedy. Seriously be greedy! Yeah there’ll be a lot more work in the edit but you’ll have more to choose from. What has helped me in both the production and post-production element is “short burst filming” where applicable. This means that the shot is lined up then filmed for 10 seconds; not too long, not too short. Of course if it’s a big act or there’s a moment you’re worried about missing then film until you get it.
Liaise, liaise, liaise. This counts for your crew as well as the event manager. Keep in touch with the client leading up to, during and after the event for any important information and updates. As for your crew it’s important that they all have specific jobs, things to film and ways to film them. No point having three cameras capturing the same thing or even different things in the same way. Say one person gets close ups, another captures voyeuristic shots from afar, the other does set up shots getting people to pose for the camera. This will ensure you have a wide range of shots to work with.
6. THE POST
Yet another section that could be its own article. I think that for event videos, more than films or music videos, the edit is where it really starts to take shape. You have your look, your concept, your footage; now it’s time to see it come together.
Know your footage. Like really, really know your footage! Me? I will look at every second of every clip then retitle each one based on the shot, what’s on camera and even the emotional content (CU boys eating – funny or MS group jumping – energy). Having an intimate knowledge of what shots you have will make the next stage much clearer. So why would that help you? I’ll get to that.
Feel the music. Remember in ‘The Track’ section I said that it helps to put the track(s) down first? Placing the tracks on the timeline in the order they would appear will create a structure based on the pace, rhythm, energy, diminuendos, crescendos and climaxes – like an emotional rollercoaster. At this stage I go through the timeline marking what type of shots I would have at each major point of the track as if I could have any shot in the world. “I’d like an energetic group shot here.” Where can I find that? “A funny yet intimate shot will be really sweet at this point.” How would a search for that? See? Use images in the right emotional context and let the rhythm inform your cuts.
Nothing’s finished until it’s graded. Now there are different degrees and tiers of grading. In some cases you’re simply matching the colour and lighting between different cameras, you know, slight tweaking to make it presentable. In other cases you’re creating the look, a very specific design and colour scheme that says something about your video.
Hopefully this has helped you think in the direction that works best for you. These aren’t rules; they are guides, guides that have helped me greatly over the years. Good luck!
THE END (for real this time).
Written by Tai Campbell, Creative Director at Epik Music Video.