How to Film a Multi Camera Keynote Address Using Just One Video Camera

When filming an event such as a keynote speech with only one camera, it’s hard to create a polished final product when you only have one camera angle. The other drawback is when it comes time for editing the product, the PowerPoint slides have to be added and matched up individual, which is a time consuming task.

The solution to this is to capture a second camera angle, as well as capture the power point presentation in real time. This is because you need a second camera angle or alternative image in order to edit the video effectively.

The video editors job is to condense and tighten up the event, cut out the pauses and mistakes and make it flow seamlessly. In order to this the editor needs to cover the edit points by overlaying another shot, this can be a second camera angle like an audience shot or in fact the slide presentation itself.

While it is a challenge for one camera operator to capture the speaker, audience and the power point slides during the address, with a little planning it’s not impossible.

The end result is your final product will look as if there is more than one camera present, even though there is not.

The Perfect Setup

In a perfect world all events of this kind would be covered by at least three HD cameras, which would then be fed live into a vision mixer along with the power point slides in the form of a HD stream and the editing would be done there live on the spot.

Unfortunately this is not always possible, but there some techniques that we can use to emulate this process, making time in the edit suite far more productive and adding a higher overall production value to the product.

In a single camera shoot of this kind, the two must have camera angles are the keynote speaker and the audience. We also need to capture the powerpoint presentation, but we will not do this with a camera.

The Keynote speaker

With the possible exemption of the start and the finish of the address, the camera framing covering the speaker should be no greater than full body length, ideally a shot from the waist up known as a ‘mid shot’ is the most appropriate shot for the majority of the address.

It is good however to change or mixup the framing as the address progresses, to create visual interest. This could mean changing to a full length shot, then back to a mid shot. Change to a medium close up or MCU and back to the mid shot.

The point at which it is safe to change framing is shortly after a new power point slide is displayed. This is because in the edit, we will be cutting to the power point slide at this point in time, which in turn will hide the camera move.

The Audience

It important to get a variety of framing sizes when filming the audience. Ideally you need a wide establishing shot, plus a combination of group shots and single person close up shots. This gives the editor lots of options and also creates visual interest.

But how do I film the audience when I’m already filming the speaker I hear you say? You arrange it in advance.

When organizing a single camera shoot of this kind, the first thing that I need to do is to explain to the organizer or keynote speaker the importance of getting the audience shots. I explain that to do this, I will need to change the camera position from the back to the front of the room, without missing any of the critical information contained in the presentation.

To get these audience shots I need at least 10 minutes, so an arrangement must be made to add or lose a 10 minute section. This is normally done toward the end of the address.

Occasionally the keynote speaker will indicate that there is a small portion of the presentation near the end, that is not critical to the video product, in this case there is no need for the speaker to add any material. They simply tell me the cue point for this material and I reposition the camera at this time.

More often than not this window is achieved by the speaker adding a 10 minute anecdote, story or example that is relevant to the subject, but does not need to make it onto the video.

This allows the camera operator time to reposition to the front, to get multiple framings of the audience.

After allowing me 10 minutes to get multiple audience shots, the speaker finishes their story, says thank you to the audience and I have the opportunity to get a nice wide shot of an audience applauding, that can be used both at the start and finish of the program.

More often than not the MC will instigate a second round of applause for the keynote speaker, allowing for a second applause shot in a different framing.

If it’s not possible to get the Keynote speaker to give you a 10 minute window, then ask the MC to do it instead. Most of the time they are more than accommodating, after all they are getting a champagne product on a beer budget.

All of these audience shots can then be spiced into the edit, not only creating visual interest, but allowing the editor to cut the dialog at will.

What about the power point slides?

Heres a neat little trick that allows one camera operator to simultaneously film the keynote speaker, while at the same time capturing in real time the power point slides in a HD format of their choice.

This is made possible by the humble clicker, or Power Point remote.

Get a copy of the Power Point presentation in advance, load it onto onto a laptop. Position the laptop on a chair or the ground next to the camera operator (in the rear camera position).

Secure the clicker to the tripod handle (double sided tape is good for this) and your good to go.

You simply advance each slide in time with the speakers presentation. Using a screen capture software program such as Screen Flow, you can capture the presentation into a HD format of you choice. As I use a Mac laptop with Final Cut Pro editing software installed, I am able to capture the presentation in Apple ProRes format, which is the same format as my camera recording.

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