I shoot 2 big corporate events every year. They are 4 day events and I have to shoot a lot of different things while I’m there, everything from interviews, highlight videos, people walking out on stage, reality shows, to time-lapses and aerial shots. With so many things to shoot, not one single camera will work for all of them, so I have to bring multiple cameras and setups. I’ll go over the cameras I use for each shoot and why I choose them.
One of the more important things I shoot is the speakers themselves. At the event there is a group that records and broadcasts the whole show. I record various speakers throughout the event to use for the companies videos and promos, and also for the highlight video at the end of the show. Being that it is in a very dark arena, I need a camera that has excellent low light capabilities. I chose the Sony A7s for this very reason. It is AMAZING in low light. For my A7s set up I also us the Atomos Shogun, which I use for a monitor and also use to record 4K.
I don’t shoot everything in 4k, but I do use it for speciality shots for the highlight video. I talk with the Motion Graphic Designer and find out the type of shots he wants, then I go out and shoot them. I utilize the 4k so he can push in or resize as needed to fit the graphic package he builds.
For the lens I use the Sony 18-200mm 3.5 to 5.6. It gives me the ability to zoom in and out as needed. I’d like to use my Canon Lens with the metabones adaptor, but I have some issues with the camera not working right with the adaptor, and at a live event I don’t want to worry about things like that. I also use this setup to get crowd shots, which are always very low light.
Another cool thing I shoot is slow motion walk outs of the speakers. They usually look awesome with slow motion fireworks, flames and lasers. For the slow motion walkouts I use the Sony FS700. It’s shoots up to 960 fps, but I really don’t use anything above 120 fps. It gets too slow after that point and anything above 240 fps you start to see the lights blinking and the shots are pretty much unusable.
I use the Metabones adaptor and the Tokina 11-16mm f 2.8 lens, so I can get a nice wide shot of the stage.
I shoot from the center of the stage and I point the camera up from a low angle to give the speaker the “Hero” angle. I always love the slow motion shots I get and so do the clients. They get used in various videos for the company. Here’s a clip of one of the walkouts.
I also use the Sony FS700 to get slow motion shots of the people attending the event for the highlight video. I get them to waive their hands, act crazy, and just do funny things, the slow motion makes it look more fun, the expressions on the peoples faces really stand out in slow motion.
Most of these shots I get outside of the arena as they walk in, or on the concourse. I use the 18-200mm Sony lens for this, because it gives me the ability to zoom. I shoot most of the crowd outside handheld. For a few shots I use a Manfroto Monopod. I use this to get high angle shots above the crowd as I walk threw them. This brings up one of the big problems with the Sony FS700, and that is the monitor placement. It’s on top of the camera, so anytime I shoot like this I’m shooting blindly. We also have a few other camera guys recording outside, Chuck Boyd is a Master at getting these kind of shots and the crowd loves him.
Another crowd shot I get is a time-lapse of the people entering the stadium and filling up the arena. For this shot I use the Canon 7D with Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, and the Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote/Intervalometer.
I set this up at the top of the arena as far back as I can. I use a photo tripod, the lightest I have, because it’s a hike to get to the top of the arena. I usually do anywhere from 2 to 5 second intervals, and I let it go until a few minutes after the first speaker starts talking. I then time remap it in After Effects to whatever time they need.
I also do various time-lapses of the Arena and other outside shots, to add to the highlight videos and promos.
I also utilize GoPro camera for various time-lapses. I use a GoPro 2 and a GoPro 4. The cool thing about the GoPros is that they are very small, so you can place them in a lot of cool places. I also like that you can control them with the Wifi remote or your iPhone. So I can set them up in the arena, and turn them on and off as needed from backstage.
For the last two events we have been getting Aerial footage of the crowd as well. For the Aerial footage we use the DJI Inspire 1 Drone. It’s AWESOME! I love flying it.
The Inspire has two remotes so you can have one person flying the drone and another operating the camera. We have Cole Cook fly the drone.
We’ve flown the drone in the arena, but we’ve had to get special clearance and the arena staff and security involved. Most of the shots are outside of the arena. There are regulations on where, when, and how you can fly drones, we skirt the rules a bit. Here’s a clip of a drone shot.
One of the other areas I’m in control of is shooting various green screen interviews of the people that attend the conference. I set up a room for this and hire a freelancer to run the camera, we shoot interviews the entire conference so I can’t be there the whole time. Here’s a time-lapse of the room setup.
For these shoots we use the Panasonic HVX 200, with wired lavs. With so many signals in the arena, wired lavs are safer. We use a large green screen and light it with Lowell Rifas, and an Arri 650 with diffusion for the hair light. The HVX’s are solid durable cameras that have been around for a long time. They work perfectly for this type of shoot.
I also utilize the HVX’s for the Media Room. Often times various press and networks will send just a reporter, I fill in as the cameraman as needed. Once I shoot their footage we have someone capture it and we send them the footage. To light the press room we use Kino Flo Flathead 80’s. I also put handheld mics, Shure SM58’s and wired lavs in the room for the media to use as needed. I made a Behind the Scenes video of the setup of the media room from the event a few years ago, you can watch it here.
One of the more boring shoots, is shooting breakout training sessions. For these I use the HVX with a Manfroto Tripod set in the back of the room. I run audio from the sound board and do a safety channel with the Rode NTG2 Shotgun Mic.
I also shoot for a reality show, during the event. I normally utilize the Panasonic HVX for this, with a rode NTG2 shotgun mic, a Manfroto Monopd, and Lite Panel LED lights. Camera wise, I’d like to use something more up to date, and I do occasionally, but in general I use the HVX (you can’t have everything).
These shoots usually have really quick interviews and people talking about what they are doing. The Rode NTG2’s are really nice shotgun mics and work well. I’d like to use wireless LAVs, but most of the time celebrities are involved, they are in and out very quickly and we don’t have time to mic them.
I use the light panels because a lot of the stuff is low light and it’s always run and gun, so having the camera light helps a lot. I also use Genaray LED lights as well.
A lot of the shots are around huge crowds, so having the monopod allows me to raise my camera above the crowd and get the shot. Unlike the Sony FS700, the Panasonic has it’s monitor on the side and it is fully adjustable, so I can see what I’m shooting.
During the entire weekend I also capture as much behind the scenes stuff as I can, lots of times it’s run and gun, grab a camera and go type of stuff. For this type of thing I generally use the Canon 7D, with a rode mic pro. I use a variety of Canon lenses, including 50, 85, 100, 300mm’s and 17-85mm zoom. Depending on what the shoot is, these lenses give me a variety of options.
So that’s it, a basic overview of the Camera’s I use and why, when I shoot big events. Sometimes I mix and match, but in general those are my basic setups. I also have plenty of batteries and cards for all the cameras, and I set up a large charging station to keep everything charged. For specialty shots I also use jibs, and dollys.
I want to thank Chuck Boyd, Charlie Burket and Cole Cook, the three main freelancers that help me shoot during the event, they help take a huge load off of my back and make my job a little easier.
If you want me to cover your event, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org