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-   -   Can anyone offer advice for shooting a seminar series? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/open-dv-discussion/7256-can-anyone-offer-advice-shooting-seminar-series.html)

Aaron Koolen February 26th, 2003 04:18 PM

Can anyone offer advice for shooting a seminar series?
Hi all.
I have a chance to video a series of seminars over the coming year (starting in about 3 weeks) at our local University for an organisation my wife is involved in so that they can both archive them and distribute copies on VHS to people who can't attend. This is a prime chance for me to get some experience and Iíd like to do a good job. What I was wondering was, could any of you offer any suggestions or things that I need to watch out for and general advice for making this good?

Here is the situation (AFAIK)
The venues will be in small lecture theatres (About 150-200 people)
Not wired into any PA for me to jack into. Maybe the odd one will be but I'm not relying on it.
Don't know if the speakers are wanderers or if they stay put (they're all different speakers)
There will probably be a podium of some sort.
I donít have an assistant, although at a stretch I might be able to get someone if itís important.

I have bugger all equipment at the moment, an Xm2 with tripod, ME66 and xlr adapter but I'm willing to buy more gear to get a good result (I'll use the gear for many other things I have planned anyway)
I know I could get hold of 2 more consumer cams (some Panasonic thing and a Sony TRV120e) but don't know if it's worth it cause they donít come close to my XM2 in image quality. I've heard a rumour that someone *might* have a ďgoodĒ cam that's manually adjustable but again, not counting on that one.

What I've been thinking about/need help with

1) How do I make the visuals interesting? Would it be better for me to have 2 cams for intercutting, even if one is a crappy (relatively speaking) consumer one? With 1 cam, I could possibly move the camera during the seminar to a new location, but there is no intermission so I'd have to edit around that movement. Likewise if I zoomed in and out. What do you guys tend to do? Do the movement and be satisfied with the missing part you edit out, or stay put for the sake of getting it all in?

2) What do you find looks best for the main cam (most footage) on these sorts of shoots? 3/4 angle, almost face on, 3/4 full shot, medium close up or what? I'm currently thinking a 3/4 angle covering waist up and panning if they move.

3) Iím thinking that if I can get 2 cams (assume one crappier one) I have 2 choices.
- Do a master shot from the back with the crappier cam, leaving closer shots that Iíll use the most to the XM2.
- Do another angle at roughly the same distance as the first cam. So that cuts donít move a long way, just change angle.

Should I even consider this if one of the cams is noticeably inferior picture wise (which will probably be the case)? NOTE: Iím willing to spend some time CCíing etc to get them close if itís possible.

3) Sound. I was thinking of running from a fixed, XLR wired, omni mic from the podium into the XLR/XM2 on one channel. Like I said I don't know if the speakers will move or not, but thought itíd be wise for at least a backup track. If it's a good idea, what's a good mic to get (That I can mount with a clip or something to a podium)? I was thinking that the ME66 would probably be too directional right?

4) Iíll have to have some sort of mobile sound setup on the speaker also. I'm not sure if I should do minidisc or if I should go wireless. Wireless seems to be over twice the cost of minidisc but with minidisc I can't monitor the sound and have to capture separately to the video and sync it. What do you guys suggest/use and can you see any problems with either?

Well thanks for reading all that. I canít think of anything else immediately but I'm sure I'll ask if I want to know ;)


K. Forman February 27th, 2003 06:50 PM

If you have several cameras, this is what I would want for the best edit, and how I would like to shoot it.
1 unmanned cam slightly off of the center stage- wide shot
1 unmanned cam reversed angle on the audience- wide shot
1 manned cam for action shots, closeups on speakers/guests, and audience questions
1 audio recorder hooked up to the house PA board. Recording the audio from the board will give you the best sound.

If you only have two cams, have one cam off center stage, and use the manned cam for close-ups on the speakers, guests, and audience. Be sure to get several wide shots of the audience too. It really helps to have plenty of safe B Roll material, which is why I like to have a static camera.

Aaron Koolen February 27th, 2003 08:03 PM

Thanks Keith. I can get 3 cams, but it's just a question of their quality :) My XM2 is fine, the others will probably be 1 chippers though. I will look to using them anyway and see what I get.

Would you suggest using my best cam as the manned cam, or using it wide shot unmanned one? I'm trying to think what would be the bulk of the content. Wide shot unmanned, or close/medium manned where I can pan with them if they move etc. What usually has best effect?


Robert Poulton February 27th, 2003 08:26 PM

I have done several of these seminars and they are fun but alot of editing after the fact.
Get at least 2 cameras.
I had one on the podium all the time off axis from the center. Then my friend set up on the other side to get the whole panel of speakers and the podium. This really worked well.
It might be good to set up a camera for the crowd but think of what the market is. I know I dont want to see very much crowed in the video when I want to see the speaker and focus my attention onto what they are saying.
I wouldn't worry about anymore than 2 cameras. Otherwise you will be running around putting in new tapes everytime and not focusing on what you need to be doing and that is the speakers and what they are saying. You never know when they might do something unexpected.
The audio I would have one for general omni. So you get the crowd and the speaker then your directional for the speaker. That way you are able to pick from two sources and not worry if there is a change out of tape.

Also * this is key* Start one camera 5mins or less ahead of the other camera. That way you will always have some footage to shoot with. Otherwise you might get stuck and have an akward moment in the video. People wont like that.

It would be if they happen to put on the back of the tickets or put up a sign saying that these seminars will be taped. As to protect you or whoever your doing this for from legal problems later on.
Other than that I cant think of anything. Just have fun sinking up the sound for your two clips of video it can be a pain if you dont do it right. LOL it was a pain for me. Also make sure you have large enough HD with a HD you can backup to. You wouldnt want anything to happen to your finished work.


Robert Poulton February 27th, 2003 08:33 PM

Oh PS. I have a mini disc and a wireless LAV and together it is tough setup to beat. I have been able to gather some great sounds with that setup from speakers.
Shooting: Speaker from the waist up. So we can see his emotion or ethos. I want to see and feel what the speaker is saying. It helps. Also get to the location really early if you have never been there before. Sometimes you have to improvise(sp).

Unless the speaker likes to use great big hand motions. That body movement helps to convey ideas.


Problem spelling. Does this thing have a spell check?

Aaron Koolen February 27th, 2003 11:15 PM

Thanks a heap for that Robert. Couple of quick questions..

You say you have a wirelss LAV *AND* a minidisc. Do you, like I think, plug the receiver into the minidisc, or did you mean you plug the receiver into the cam and use the minidisc to record another microphone?

Regarding the omni and my ME66. I'll obviously place the ME66 on the podium (if there is one) but where would you suggest placing the omni? Same place, or place it say, near your camera?

When you and your friend placed your cameras, did you both stay on the same side so that when you cut the viewer was still looking from the same direction, or did you cross the imaginary line that goes from the speaker straight out to the audience?


Oh yeah, and brilliant tip about starting one camera before the other so there are no breaks!

Robert Poulton February 28th, 2003 12:33 AM

I would take my wireless LAV and use a Male to Male headphone jack, to plug into the headphone jack on the LAV to Minidisc. Then I would just put my headphones into the headphone jack of the minidisc. Works wonders. I would like alittle more control but I can kinda manage with the vol control on the LAV.
When I did mine there was a good speaker system already setup in the room. So we just used our two camera mics. I could of pluged into the sound system but over all it sounded better the way we did it.

The room was a long rectangle. The crowd was lined running the length of the room. They faced the speaker(s). There was a table for the speakers. Then a podium where the speaker could get up and address the crowd. I placed my camera to the Right of the Podium looking at it. While my friend got a wider shot with everything from the oppisite side.
The line between both parties wasn't really there due to it being a breakfast seminar. So people were around tables eating and sitting backwards.
*Dont ever set up your camera straight infront of your subject. You loose depth of your subject. Plus the frame becomes less interesting to look at. Remember your the artist.
One of the main reasons...looking back... for us seting up the cameras on two opposing sides of the speaker is to create a break. It really helped in the long run. Who really can sit and watch a video for 1hour of someone rambling on about politics. That 180 degree cut between camera angles help to keep the view on edge.
When we shot this we used a 1 chip DV camera and a Digital8. In the end you couldnt tell the difference between the two.

I'm glad you like it. Yah any tips always help.

I have been doing Horse Clinics this past year and its funny. Just this last week I did one and messed up some peoples tapes. I have to carry all this extra crap because there are NO MINI DV DECKS FOR HOME USE....lol So im stuck with VCR and other odds and ends. I had my XL1s all ready to go and I decide to turn off the Zebra pattern. I bumped the other preset button.
Well that other preset button I set to TV Screen. So they all got a good view of my Camera settings during the whole shoot. Funny stuff. The good thing is that I also record on camera too so I had a DV backup of every ride.


Aaron Koolen February 28th, 2003 04:57 AM

Thanks again Rob, great advice and really helpful. Bummer about your mishap with the preset buttons. At least my XM2 only has 1 :)


BTW: I noticed in the earlier post you said "sometimes you have to improvise(sp)" I don't see any spelling mistake there ;^)

Robert Poulton February 28th, 2003 01:28 PM

thx. Yah for words im not to sure about and am to lazy to check I just put that sometimes. I just dont type out improvise to offten so I really didnt know......hey I guess sounding words out do help..lol.

Good luck there Aaron.


Derrick Begin February 28th, 2003 01:53 PM


A friend of mine does this. And I have done it a few times.

Here is his set up:

1-Canon XL1S (Fixed-Monitored)
1-Behringer Mixer
3-Sony Lavaliers
3-XLR 100' Cables
1-VCR (Immediate copies needed)

He tapes the 1-Lav to the podium mike stand, and 2-Lavs to general sound of the panel of people.

The camera is fixed on the speaker and panel members. The information is the most important said is the most important part.

I think 3 cameras is over kill, one works, two is optimal. One fixed and the other wild and/or fixed on panel. Both within reach and manageble. The length of the seminar/meeting is important also, you want coverage when tape hits its end. The lawyers break in the middle at just about 60 minutes, then I replace the tape and resume.

Don't overwhelm yourself, keep it simple.

I hope this helps! You'll rock! Sound like you are good to go.



Rick Spilman February 28th, 2003 02:30 PM

I like at least two cameras and three if possible for this sort of shoot. One camera close, 3/4 shot. One camera wide off to one side and one camera getting reaction shots from the audience. If you only have two cameras you can grab reaction shots with the second/wide camera. It is possible to do this with one camera person. I've done it. But I don't recommend it.

Make sure you get any graphs, charts, images that the speakers will be using. The images projected on overheads or a projector will be impossible to see on video, but dropping in the stills is easy in post and provides more visual interest. Also adding additional info which might not availabe to the seminar attendees isn't bad either. This requires some coordination with the speakers but can make a difference.

It is hard enough to make such a seminar interesting even if you are there. Difficult to make interesting video unless you can manage the point of view and provide some variety.

Aaron Koolen February 28th, 2003 03:48 PM

Thanks Rick and Derrick.

I don't think there are any panels in these seminars - just one speaker so that helps a bit. Two mics should be fine and it's within a lunch hour, so the talks will be no more than an hour so will nicely fit on a tape.

After I've shot the first one I'll see what needs improving so I think I've got most of the info I need to start. Off to source another camera....

Thanks again all

Rob, mentioned the "improvise" cause I wondered if you spelt it "our" way and not the American way (improvize) as joke ;)

Robert Poulton February 28th, 2003 05:31 PM

LOL. Ok it takes sometime to let things sink in. N1.


K. Forman February 28th, 2003 05:37 PM

If you have only the one speaker, go with two cams. Use the better quality for close ups on the speaker and audience questions. Use the second cam as a wide shot of the stage, off center. This will be your base shot, guaranteed footage. If you are zoomed in on the speaker, someone is very likely going to walk in front of you. You'll have a full tape of good fill shots.

Grab a few wide shots or pans of the audience, to establish the atmosphere, and break the tedium of watching only the speaker. If possible, have an assistant to load tapes and batteries in the second cam.

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