• Alex Mane

The Expert Guide to Capturing Conference Videos

If you haven’t considered filming your next conference, then all the current statistics suggest you should!

For example, the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video.[1]  Having video on a website’s landing page makes it 53% more likely to show up on the first page of Google searches,[2] and 75% of senior executives watch work related videos at least weekly.[3]

Conferences have an abundance of rich, engaging content at their fingertips, so why not take advantage of the power of video and use it to drive up engagement, awareness and sales for your future events.

Well, two factors that might make you hesitate are the cost and complexity of capturing the video in the first place.  This is why we spoke with experts from both sides of camera to share their expertise on how you can successfully capture conference video cost-effectively.

Q: What criteria do you use for choosing a video partner i.e. what’s important to consider for an organiser thinking for filming their event?

Tom O’Leary [TO], Head of Public Engagement and Learning at the Houses of Parliament and also organiser of TEDxHousesofParliament, says: In our experience, spending as much as you can afford on a video partner is essential. If you do want to get high quality films made of your event/talks, it is risky to cut corners. Hiring experienced professionals means they will help you set up the shots you want and deliver it to you in the format you need. And subject to your needs, a good live mix really reduces the post edit process.

Michael Hobson [MH], Co-Founder & 1/3rd of 3beards, says:  We’ve used the same freelancer for 2 years, and recently hired Krysten, our in-house Media & Content Manager.

In both cases, our videographers are professional, have good quality equipment, and knowledge of how we run the events. A quirky eye for the edit is also very beneficial.

Krysten Marlette [KM], Media & Content Manager at 3beards, says: Usually I am the one hired out but if the event is particularly large and I want coverage as much as possible, I sometimes source out a 2nd shooter to make sure I do not miss anything. I like working with quirky, enthusiastic, fun people who shoot more creatively than standard shots. Things that help me shoot from an organiser would be where I can and cannot shoot from. Like Michael said, if I have access to amazing places like a rooftop or something, always let us know! Also, knowing special events going on throughout the day is helpful so we do not miss capturing anything.

Q: What are your top tips for successfully working with videographers to capture the excitement and essence of your event?

[KM]: I like to know what the “tone” is of the company I’m working for. If it a more corporate client, I will shoot a bit differently than if it is more of a creative type client. Shooting for the 3beards, we have our own voice and style when it comes to crazy and fun content!

[MH]: Make sure you outline the goals from the start, ideally a few days or a week before the event. Inform them of any particular parts of the event that you would like to highlight – eg, facepainting, live music, talking heads from attendees. Also, any particular camera angles, or specific shots you have access to – for example, if you have access to a rooftop to film an aerial shot, or if you want a time-lapse from a certain angle, let them know!

[TO]: For me it is about planning beforehand and involving them in the production meetings. For example if your stage and lighting design is a complete nightmare for filming purposes it is essential to allow the film producers to feed into that process.

You also need to agree and understand what your priority is. Is it the live event or the film output – or in our case both, because compromises may need to be made. Having low light in the theatre creates a great atmosphere for the live show, but makes filming much harder, particularly if you want audience shots. You also need to ensure the communications between the camera crew and the show caller is robust and working.

Q: How involved do you get with the process?

[TO]: I think it is important to set the parameters as just discussed – like live versus recorded – and to give a clear steer on those things. However, the actual filming and mixing I very much leave to the professionals. But having said that you shouldn’t be afraid of being clear about what sort of footage you want and going with your intuition.

[MH]: We usually like to let our videographers have creative control over the footage, but we’ll aim to match our existing styles from past videos where possible. Our brand is quirky, and we like our videos to reflect that where possible!

Once footage has been edited, we’ll check over it and provide feedback where necessary.

During shooting, we’ll sometimes get involved by wearing a GoPro for some ‘BeardCam’ footage, or make ourselves available for some post-event interviews.

[KM]: My involvement might be a bit different as I am shooting, editing, revising, and creating. I stay as involved with the client as possible so that I can deliver and exceed expectations.

Q: How do you promote your videos after an event?

[MH]: All of our stuff goes up on YouTube once it’s ready, and we usually do a tweet / Facebook post to share them around. We also pop them in our weekly newsletter, to share with our community.

[KM]: A great way to promote your videos is through social media. Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and on our own site will spread the beardy love!

[TO]: I run a TEDx event, so there is an existing infrastructure where we post our films. However, the TEDx Youtube channel is heavily populated so it is essential to use social media to promote your films and one of the best techniques is getting the speakers to promote their talk as some of them have large Twitter followings.

You must also make it easy for your audience to share films.  One of the other best results is to get your footage included in an online article/blog such as on the Huffington Post who tend to be on the lookout for media rich content which is free to use. And for us the ultimate success is when the main TED site selects a film to publish which guarantees a huge international audience.

Q: Why should conference companies record their events? What are some of the advantages you’ve seen?

[TO]: For us it is a required part of the format as we run a TEDx event, but the opportunity to allow a much larger audience to view your event is certainly worth considering. And of course people at the event may want to access particular elements as well and share those with others. I don’t think I would consider running a large event now without recording and publishing it as it increases the long-term value of the event.

[MH]: It’s great to have footage purely for posterity. It’s helpful for people who couldn’t make it to the event, and also to demonstrate to any potential clients or sponsors to show how we do our events.

[KM]: Absolutely!!! Not only is it great for the conference speakers to watch their performance back, but also if you are able to upload the video for others to watch who maybe could not attend, wanted to reference something the speaker said, etc. It’s great to have a video for reference.

We also spoke with a veteran videographer, to get the perspective of the folks behind the camera…

Q: What information from event organisers do you need to be able to deliver an accurate quote?  What helps to keep the cost down?

Mark Currie [MC], Director, Chocolate Films says: The main thing that we need is a clear idea of the outputs. Events can be shot in a range of ways so it’s best that we prepare for the right way to shoot the event.

For example a conference can be shot for highlights alone, for a simple document of each speech or it can be shot with multiple cameras and cranes! We generally find that it’s very helpful to be given an idea of the budget at the outset so we can gauge what level of service we should recommend. We also need to know about the technical set-up of the event (i.e. what lighting and AV systems the event managers will already have in place).

Q: What workflow is required to deliver a successful project when recording conferences/events?

It’s all about the planning and set-up. We always try to know as much about the event as possible in advance, and will get there with plenty of time to spare in order to ensure that the technical set-up is perfect well before the event begins. If we’ve got that right, the shoot should be straightforward.

Q: What is the most common cause of delay in getting videos turned around and back to organisers quickly?

As long as we have all the elements, such as logos, branding and presentations, then the turnaround should be very fast. If the client needs it, we’ll sometimes edit at the venue and get the footage up within an hour or two.

Q: How long does the editing process take post event? Are there any cost-effective ways to speed this process up?

The edit’s usually very fast for conference speeches. For highlights films it will generally be a 2-3 days. Edits of highlights films are always sped up if the client can tell us which parts of the day are key to feature and which parts are a lower priority.

Q: Why should organisers record their events? What are some of the advantages you’ve seen?

The main advantages are that people who missed the event can find out what happened and that it’s a great way to give potential audiences a taste of future events.

However, filming events with a clear content creation strategy can have much greater advantages. Interviews with speakers can be great low cost videos that are great for promotion through social media after the event. And vox pop films can be popular ways of gauging popular opinion on an issue, creating great content for post-event blog posts.

Lights, Camera…Action!

Thanks to our panel of experts for sharing their experience and insights!

With the compelling evidence on the benefits of video, the huge opportunity presented by your conference content, and the expert advice to execute a smooth recording…what are you waiting


It’s time to capture the buzz of your conference and showcase it to the world!

Do you have experience of videoing your conference, or working as a videographer at conferences?  Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!


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