5 Tips for Shooting Video at an Event with a Crew

Just yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with two talented individuals named Mo and Lyndon on shooting an Art Basel event. Art Basel is an internationally renowned art fair that takes place all over Miami and draws crowds from all over the world.

Interviewing artist Gabriela Bernal on a piece of interactive art she created for the event.

Thursday’s shoot took place at a VIP Basel event called Diaspora, where students from the local New World School of the Arts presented unique pieces of art in various media, including structures, food, sound and more.

It’s been a while since I’ve shot video alongside a crew on an event like this, especially with interviews being part of the material that was captured. It was a warm and appreciated throwback to the high school and college days where I regularly worked with crews big and small on all sorts of events.

To that end, here are five tips for shooting video with a crew at most any event. These IMG_1359tips have definitely helped me produce good, high-quality content that editors won’t be shaking their head at when it’s post-production time.

  1. Arrive early and walk the event. Though call time was at 8 a.m. and the event itself didn’t start until 9 a.m., I arrived at the premises about a half hour earlier in order to give myself a chance to walk the entire event. Don’t worry about taking your equipment in just yet; the key is to experience the event grounds as an insider first. Upon arrival, I made it a point to visually inspect each and every corner of the event space in order have a mental map of the physical boundaries of my shooting region. You can’t be in more than one place at once, so it helps to know just how many different places you can bounce around to as the event is going on.
  2. Make friends fast. It’s safe to say that most any event you go to will feature a sizeable amount of people, any of which can be a subject for an interview. If you see the organizer of the event, talk to him or her first and ask about any timed performances or sequences that are planned for the event. Write these down or make a mental note of them so you know where to be and when to be there when the time comes. Don’t limit yourself to just event officials, however: anyone who is attending the event or is even in close proximity to it probably has something to say about it. In my experience, the less predictable my choice of interview subject, the more interesting the interview has turned out to be.
  3. Choose an interviewer. As a videographer, chances are you’re already mentally IMG_1361wired to capture the best and most aesthetic b-roll of the event as possible. Establishing shots, macro shots, rack focus and pan/tilt tricks are all in your repertoire.What you can’t do as easily, however, is talk to event attendees while also getting those good shots. Prior to the event starting, choose someone that’s going to join you when you want to catch interviews of event goers on camera. Make sure to pick someone who enjoys talking to people and has that kind of demeanor that makes people smile, feel comfortable, and ignore the camera when you aim it at them. This way, you can focus on all the technical and artistic aspects of capturing good-looking video while your interviewer can play a warm and welcoming host to your interview subject.
  4. Stay mobile. Just when you think you’ve captured everything there is to capture, think again. Unless you’ve got all the time in the world or you work crazy fast,chances are you’ll leave the event without having talked to everyone and having gotten every possible. Back in the days of tape or film, there was something to be said for being economical with your shots. But the ubiquity of cheap and re-usable flash storage media nowadays means there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be shooting almost constantly from the beginning to the end of an event. It’s a way of avoiding that sinking feeling of getting to the editing bay, importing your footage and saying, “that’s it?” Don’t repeat yourself either: if you feel like you’re getting the same shots time and time again, try something different. Photograph the same content from a ridiculous angle this time. Approach that person that looked busy earlier. There’s always something more to capture. Keep on movin n’ shootin’!
  5. Keep your cool. In the heat of an event where you’re constantly looking for the next best shot or interview subject, it can be easy to trip up and forget shooting basics like pressing the record button, changing your white balance, watching your shutter speed and exposure. Once you’ve caught yourself forgetting one of these basics once, take it as a sign that you need to double down and focus.Don’t forget that even though you are physically at the event, your future viewers aren’t and they won’t be able to see what you don’t capture correctly.

Let me know what you think about these tips in the Comments section and feel free to add your own!

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