When recording an event, making sure you capture the information your audience wants to hear and look at is all important. Using modern technology, this is more than possible.

Firstly, let’s dispose with a myth, which I have heard more times than I care to remember. Recording and broadcasting an event is not impossible or impractical for small events, or even for the largest events. I have recently broadcast an event where there were 70 in attendance, and a further 200 plus watching over the course of the 90 minutes, and I am currently in the process of planning an event where there will be no audience physically present in the room, and where two of the speakers will be in different locations!

With a little bit of insight and knowledge, you can achieve any of this and so much more.

Events with speakers in one location and an audience

The first thing to think about when recording an event is where your speakers will stand, and whether they will move around the room. This is crucial because it directly effects the placement of the cameras you use to record the event. For example; having cameras near the front of the room is only useful if the people being captured are not going to walk around the audience.

Once you’ve worked out where the speakers will be, you want to aim for one camera which captures the head and shoulders of the speaker currently talking. Depending on the number of speakers and how quickly any different speakers swap between talking, will help to determine how many cameras you need to do this. Generally, even with three or four speakers, one camera is more than enough.

The next task is either a moot point, or worth considering, depending on if you are having an audience in the room. If you are going to have an audience in the room, then you may also want to have a camera pointing at least at part of the audience, so that the resulting video can show the interaction between the audience and the speakers.

Again, this third task is also one which could possibly be a moot point, or very useful. If there is a live demonstration using a speaker’s laptop, or some equipment they’ve gathered up and taken the time to bring with them, then you want to be able to show clear shots of this. This may mean pointing a camera at a table or having someone move a camera, which is also focusing on the audience, or a camera which is normally on the head and shoulders shot.

These first, quick decision taking moments are necessary to make sure you do not end up with more content than you need afterwards, so that when it comes to editing and putting the final video together, you are not in a position where you have hours of material which is of little or no use to your event at all.

When you are planning an event, think about where the cameras will go, and how you will communicate with anyone who is changing the position of those cameras, to let them know when you want them to move their camera to a different position or to capture something different.

Try to make sure that there is a defined person in charge of the whole event from a recording (and broadcasting if you are venturing that far!) perspective.

At the last event, which I organised along with my fellow committee members at the Internet Specialist Group, I created some very short crib sheets, which defined each role clearly, what they were expected to do, and most importantly, why they were expected to do this.

These sheets were very useful in eliminating the explanation of the same principles and standards to three or four different people.

I included a crib sheet for the person introducing the speaker, so they knew which camera to look at, or towards, as well as other information, such as the amount of time needed to make sure the broadcast (as that event was being broadcast to multiple platforms at once) could start.

How much of this you choose to do, (for events with all the speakers in one location and an audience), is up to you. However, for the best results, you should look for a minimum of 4 people being involved in the recording, including the person in charge, who is also the person who operates the broadcast, if that is being done.

Events with speakers in multiple locations, and no audience

The first thing to think about is where the speakers will be located. Will they have a broadband internet connection or mobile internet connection which will support the use of the system you’ve opted to use to conference them together.

For reference:

  • Skype requires up to 2mbps per person connected, up to a maximum of 6mbps for the person who is recording the whole event.
  • Google Hangout requires up to 5mbps per person connected, up to a maximum of 12mbps for the person who is recording the whole event.
  • GoToMeeting requires up to 6mbps per person connected, up to a maximum of 15mbps for the person who is recording the whole event.

You will then need to find a way to record what is happening within the conference itself. Some conferences have the facility to record this in real time, which is fine, as you can then download and edit it afterwards. However, if you want to broadcast it then you will likely need an additional participant who can use some broadcasting software to broadcast the specific elements of the meeting as it happens, along with text and other graphics, as is relevant.

It is worth exploring this as soon as you can, and make sure that you can do this confidently before the actual event takes place. If it is the first time you have used this method, then it is worth doing a dry run to make sure that everything works as expected and all the speakers know what they role is and when they should act and do things.

As an addition, you can also add another computer into the mix, which will allow you to display the presentations or slide shows which accompany each of the speakers, allowing them not to have to do this themselves.

In the same way, once you have finished the recording of the event, you will need to edit it. I have written a white paper, which is available to members, that covers this process in more detail, and goes over the software and hardware which you might like to use to edit or upload your recording after the event has finished.

You can clear up most things in editing after a recording, but immediacy is important, people want to see an event as it happens, and that is more than possible using modern technology and a bit of planning.

If you or your group would like to do some recording or broadcasting of your upcoming events, then please, contact christopher.east@bcs.org who will be happy to help.

About the author

Brought to you by the members of the BCS Internet specialist group. The internet is ubiquitous and has a major impact on our daily lives, at work, at home on the move. The associated risks and security concerns are real, but the magic and advantages of the internet are significant.