Filming a 3 days conference in London – the gear and software we use


This post is mainly for my fellow producers, but not only.

Pre-Production

The Brief

The client wanted a 3 days conference filmed with one camera in Full HD and each session edited into separate videos.

Why filming a conference?

Below are some of the reasons why my client has chosen to film this conference:

  • Video can be a fantastic marketing tool for prospective attendees
  • Video can reach an audience not able to attend your conference.
  • Ideas and discussions can be accessed well into the future.

What equipment did I use and roughly how much did it cost?

Obviously the equipment below is being used for other projects as well, but this is the basic gear I need to cover a 3 days conference.

No. UnitsImageDescriptionUnit PricePrice (£)
1Tripod Manfrotto 055xProBManfrotto 055XB Tripod£100.00£100.00
1Manfrotto Pro Video (501HDV) Tripod HeadManfrotto Pro Video (501HDV) Tripod Head£150.00£150.00
1EasyAcc small power bankEasyAcc Metal Mini Portable Power Bank Bar£10.00£10.00
62 out of 6 SD cards 128GB Sandisk Extreme Pro in SD card holderSanDisk Extreme PRO 128 GB SDXC Memory Card, Up to 170 MB/s, Class 10, U3, V30£41.48£248.88
12 out of 6 SD cards 128GB Sandisk Extreme Pro in SD card holderMemory Card Carrying Case 22 slots£4.69£4.69
1Audio cable 3.5mm Stereo Jack PlugAudio cable 3.5mm Stereo Jack Plug aka. 1/8″ Stereo£1.50£1.50
1Tripod Sony VCT-R100Tripod VCT-R100£42.00£42.00
1Apple EarPods with 3.5mm Headphone PlugApple EarPods with 3.5mm Headphone Plug£29.00£29.00
1Matt 500 Professional Grade Black Gaffer TapeMatt Professional Grade Black Gaffer Tape£11.42£11.42
1Ultra High Capacity External Battery PackUltra-High Capacity External Battery Pack£30.00£30.00
1WD My passport Ultra 2TBWD 2TB Black My Passport Ultra Portable External Hard Drive – USB 3.0£139.90£139.90
1Synology DS918+Synology DS918+ 32TB (4 x 8TB WD RED) 4 Bay Desktop NAS Unit£1,504.45£1,504.45
1Samsung Portable SSD T5 500 GB USB 3.1 External SSDSamsung Portable SSD T5 500 GB USB 3.1 External SSD£87.88£87.88
1Pro-X XD-L56P LED Camera LightPro-X XD-L56P LED Camera Light£146.00£146.00
1Pro-X XD-L56P LED Camera LightBattery suitable for Pro-X XD-L56P LED Camera Light£56.69£56.69
1Apple Magic Mouse - Wireless BluetoothApple Magic Mouse – Wireless Bluetooth with 2 AA batteries£45.00£45.00
13 PIN XLR Female To XLR Female Jack Connector3 PIN XLR Female To XLR Female Jack Connector£8.99£8.99
1RODE NTG2 SHORT SHOTGUN MICROPHONERode NTG2 Shotgun Microphone£164.00£164.00
1Dell Adapter - USB 3.0 to HDMI-VGA-Ethernet-USB 3Dell Adapter – USB 3.0 to HDMI-VGA-Ethernet-USB 3.0£159.00£159.00
1Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual Slot Reader Compatible with SD and CF Memory CardsLexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader Compatible with SD and CF Memory Cards£31.54£31.54
1Panasonic 4k VX980 camcorderPanasonic HC-VX980£399.00£399.00
1Tascam DR-05 – High quality handheld audio recorderTascam DR-05 – High-quality handheld audio recorder£179.99£179.99
1A pair of Sennheiser ew 100-ENG G3Sennheiser ew 100-ENG G3£263.00£263.00
1Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod with HandgripManfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod with Handgrip£17.85£17.85
24 Gang Extension Lead, White, 0.5m4 Gang Extension Lead, White, 0.5m£2.59£5.18
1Canon PowerShot G16 cameraCanon PowerShot G16£299.00£299.00
18 x Panasonic Eneloop Pro Rechargeable AA 2500mAh Ni-MH Batteries8 x Panasonic Eneloop Pro Rechargeable AA 2500mAh Ni-MH Batteries£26.50£26.50
1Panasonic AG CX-350 Professional 4K camcorderPanasonic AG-CX350 4K£3,330.00£3,330.00
1Petrol PCCB-2N Camcorder BagPetrol PCCB-2N Camcorder Bag£150.00£150.00
13m xlr cableXLR High-Quality Balanced Male to Female Microphone Lead£8.99£8.99
1Logitech Wireless PresenterLogitech Wireless Presenter£24.99£24.99
1iPhone 6sApple iPhone 6s£159.00£159.00
1HP laptopHP ZBook£1,818.00£1,818.00
Total£9,652.44

Obviously, you might not need everything on the list above. You might not need £1500 NAS (a few extra SD cards will do), the headphones are usually coming with the phone, you might get away with a cheaper laptop especially if you normally edit Full HD and not 4k/UHD. Some of the items (PowerPoint clicker, Shotgun Microphone, Mini Tripod and the Ultra-High Capacity External Battery Pack) I didn’t use at all, but I was happy to know that are there if I do need them.

What software did I use?

No. UnitsSoftware requiredPer yearPer month
1Adobe Premiere Pro 2019 CC£239.64£19.97
1Office 365 Personal£59.99£5.00
Total£24.97

Grand Total: £9,677.41

The Production Process

This is when the event is being filmed and all the steps that go with it.

Going Above and Beyond

I decided to use two cameras to record the event, even though the client only requested one camera.

Camcorders

Both cameras set up on tripods at the back of the room.

  • Camera 1 – Panasonic AG CX-350 used as the main camera
  • Camera 2 – Panasonic HC-VX980 used as the backup camera and second angle

Camera 1 – Audio feed

  • XLR from the floor into the rear input 2 of camera 1

Monitor Audio Levels

Monitor audio levels with the wired Apple headsets. Try to get a good level from the get-go. Increase or decrease levels as needed.

Panasonic AG CX-350 Professional 4K camcorder

In this case, because the audio at the venue was managed by an engineer the sound quality was spot on. As a result, I selected both channels to Channel 2.

Tip.

Secure the XLR cable and power supply to the tripod’s legs with gaffer tape. Make sure the camera can pan left right up and down easily.

Use Manual Focus

I use manual focus and focus assist, I don’t trust autofocus.

Tip.

When using Focus Assist, touch the small triangles on the screen to zoom in to a different area of the frame, then focus using the focus ring.

Focus assist on Panasonic AG CX-350
Focus assist on Panasonic AG CX-350

Shutter Speed, Iris and White Balance

I used 1/60 shutter speed to match the projector’s refresh rate, in order to eliminate any flicker.

Iris: Auto

Gain: Medium 6dB

ND filter: CLR (no ND filter required)

WB B 3540k slightly less than the custom bulb preset 3800 K

Recording format

I used 2 x 128 GB SD V30 170MB/sec Sandisk cards, recording simultaneously on both cards in 1080-50p Mbps AVCHD PS

Backup footage

In between sessions, the card on Slot 1 of camera 1 was backed up on the Samsung T5 External SSD via Laptop. Then insert it back in slot 1 and format it. In this way, the second slot will have the entire event and slot 1 will only carry the current session.

At the end of the day, the SD card from camera 1, slot 2 and SD card from camera 2 will be backed up on the Synology NAS at the office.

Tip.

The folder structure is very important. I use YYYY.MM.DD Name of the event/Day 01-03/S01-S04

Camera 2 – 4K Panasonic HC-VX980 set up

On a tripod at the back of the room, on a table in the middle of the room on a wide shot. When people are clapping the table can move slightly and a warp stabiliser effect may be required in post.

Using warp stabiliser during editing
Using warp stabiliser during editing

Tip.

Depending on the budget, a third camera could be fixed on the tripod, focused on the lectern – no zoom or panning recording in 1080-50p Mbps AVCHD

Camera 2 settings used

I used Manual settings

  • Focus – MF
  • White Balance – Tungsten 1 preset
  • Shutter 1/50
  • Iris +6dB
  • Backup audio feed using an audio cable 3.5mm Stereo Jack Plug; camcorder audio input -30db attenuation and AGC off.

Tip.

Have a power bank fully charged, in case no power sockets are available at the venue. Panasonic HC VX980 will record 5-6 hours with a power bank, depending on how big the power bank is.

Health and safety

Tape all the cable to the floor to avoid tripping and falling.

tape all the cables to the floor with gaffer's tape
Tape all the cables to the floor with gaffer tape

The Post Production Process

Backup footage

The backing up process starts during the event. In this case, I had to use a third hard drive because of the lack of space on 500Gb SSD.

Tip.

The time required to back up the footage during breaks – 10 minutes per card (2 hours worth of footage) via USB 3.0

WD My passport Ultra 2TB

Editing

Sync and edit multiple cameras in Adobe Premiere Pro 2019 CC and export each session as a separate Full HD *.mp4 at 8Mbps video.

Tip.

Keep in mind that conforming audios will take place on the C drive and files are massive – make sure you delete unused conformed audio from past projects, especially different versions of Adobe Premiere Pro.

Conforming audio from a total of 4 hours of footage will take about 1 hour. For at least 15 min you won’t be able to edit because you will have no audio.

Delivery

Upload all the sessions on OneDrive and share a link with the client.

Revisions

Sometimes revisions are necessary, so don’t delete the raw footage just yet. I like to keep mine for at least 30 days.

Below you can watch the first session from a 3-day conference.

If you have any questions, please leave me a message below or contact me directly.


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