View Full Version : GH2 Filming a conference - tips and how to's?

05-31-2012, 01:30 AM
My forum searching seems to suck cause I am sure I remember someone asking help about filming a conference (given their budget) but I just can't find it. That being said the question is how to go about filming a conference? The idea is to have at least two GH2's, just cause I already have one and thus far I am very happy with it (the future will bring more prosumer camera's for other applications).

Wait! Let me start off by saying what I know about the opportunity that is 90% available to me and my mate. We will be filming a conference (once every month :grin: ) that regards network marketing. Sound is taken care of by another mate who is in the sound business and the idea is to take one of his line outs into a recorder for us (well that is what he has been doing in the past with the other guys the network marketing guys organised), thus sound pickup is proper and taken care off apart from what recorder we shall use. Thus far I do not know about any presentation material at the conference, it is merely one person after the other doing a chat/presentation to create excitement about joining the network marketing thing "see our exciting conferences and how we are enjoying ourselves and see our and hear people and their success".

Since this opportunity will be our "break" into the media industry, this is what my gear thoughts are thus far:

2 x GH2's with a reasonable hack with no spanning issues
2 x fluid heads (I think the Manfrotto 502 was it?)
1 x Field recorder
External batteries for both camera's

Lighting will be take care of by the sound guy since those (business wise) is his two focus areas, however I want to be involved in the setup of the lighting as well especially from a filming point of view, hence please give some pointers or advice or book names. But that does not mean we don't want to invest in some lightling at least, possibly two LED light panels.

Camera setup in terms of angles. Here I am not too sure. Obviously one wants to cut between two angles, however what angles do you suggest? A straight-on shot with an off angle to the left or right, possibly slightly lower?

Framing since I do not want it to look like a home video of a primary school recital where the parents sat in the back row. My thinking for framing is the main camera will be slightly off to the side (not straight on), shoulder height angled slightly upwards. Person will be framed to the rule of thirds (ROT), cutting him off at the midsection, hence medium close-up. The second camera will be lower, about midsection at height to the extreme side but this will be a wide shot that catches some of the audience - again ROT - it will not be a profile shot angle, but to the side. A third camera would be nice to do some cut-away's of the audience, possibly some dramatic slider shots and the like, but that is a nice to have I think.

Any help, suggestions, advice, tips, video's to look at will be greatly appreciated in terms of camera angles. I'll have the consult the audio guys on a field recorder to capture the sound from the sound desk, might be could to get a multi channel recorder.

Thanks guys and ladies. My apologies for the broad questions with little extra information, but I'd like to get the ball rolling after the quick idea discussion last night regarding the great opportunity to start working in the media industry.

05-31-2012, 02:08 AM
Knowing how many camera operators and assistants you'll have dedicated to video would help!

Also, the fact that you are having continuous audio allows you to cut away to film the audience and anything else happening simultaneously during the conference, the audio is really what makes everything run smoothly regardless of what you do with the camera.

Having said that, is this conference highly interactive with the audience?

Also, knowing the seating format of the conference helps too. Like is there a panel on the stage? If a stage exists at all? Will there be a round table discussion involving more than one person at a time? And are there any requirements from the client in terms of what they are looking for and how they will be using the footage/final edit?

I personally haven't done a conference, but something similar I guess would be the speeches at a wedding. So normally during the speeches I'd have one locked off camera (using a tripod) on the person giving the speech, normally waist up using a normal-telescopic lens to compliment the formalness of the speeches. Then the second camera would be either using a matching focal length or a lens with slightly more reach and would be 100% comara operated on a Manfrotto 561HDV monopod. This second camera (Camera B) will focus more on the body language such as the eyes, mouth, hands. So for instance if the person giving the speech starts to move his/her expression from the eyes to the hands, the camera operator (on the Camera B) will pan slightly (maybe even rack focus) to the hands (using rule of thirds or whatever is practical at that moment). Also, being on the Monopod allows for more freedom of movement, so Camera B can even turn quickly to capture anything significant happening in the audience.

I would then also have Camera C capture the interactivity between the Bride/Groom and the person giving the speech. This camera would be positioned in such a way that a quick (or slow) rack focus would be sufficient to capture the interplay between the two. This camera would also be on a Monopod to maintain quickness so at to keep pace with whatever is thrown at us during the reception. The lens would be normal-wide as we want to dolly a bit closer to the action to gain more intimacy with the Bride/Groom and keep in frame the person giving the speech.

Having said that if I were one camera operator shy, then we would have to rely more on tripods and locked off shots.

And of course audio would be continuous either using a lav or a boomed mic to an external recording, or if the DJ had a live XLR feed then we'd use that.

Canera-wise, I use Canon DSLR's with Magic Lantern, so this will help with auto-restarting the record button. Knowing this, I would lose 3 to 4 seconds of video, but each camera would be staggered so that the other camera(s) would pick-up the slack, also the continuous audio feed would help fill in any void if necessary.

Oh and all manned cameras would have a 2x view finder to ensure that each operator can see what's in focus. And white balance and all that other stuff goes without saying as well as everything being manually exposed.

Now if I only had two cameras, then Camera B would be repositioned and outfitted appropriately to take on the duties of the third camera.

As a general rule (for myself), I feel the price of admission for any videographer (i.e. to seperate us from the recital looking videos) is to get as intimate as possible with our subject(s). Have the human-side of what is happening come through as much as possible, and be alert and aware enough to tie everything you're capturing throughout the day together into a unifying story.

And If I only had one camera, then that would be the locked off camera on a tripod (as mentioned previously regarding the first camera). And then I would shoot as much B-Roll as possible (throughout the day) to compliment what the speech is saying and try to tie everything into a story.

05-31-2012, 02:34 AM
Hey ectobuilder.

Thanks for the quick response....my work is suffering due to my excitement of this opportunity - priorities right? Good questions that I didn't even think off.

Firstly, there will always only be two operators (can't see three, but the future is bright as always). We WILL also have two camera's, maybe three...maybe! I'd rather save to get a third prosumer later to broaden our scope of capabilities. (Personally I want the GH2's for their limitless recording times, and it means only acquiring one more camera leaving funds for other required minimum gear).

I like the setup you described using the monopods. This conference to my knowledge (I will get one of the previous conference DVD's to have a look what is happening, plus inquire what the client actually wants to get out of the DVD) is only one person speaking at a time at a podium, but having attended a similar conference by accident, it is a relaxed setting hence my thinking of some audience cut-away's. No discussions or panels, just one person at a time at the podium - however will have to confirm.

That makes the gear purchase a bit different, possibly then one fluid tripod and one fluid monopod. If we can acquire a third camera then I'll setup camera A static, camera B majority speaker on mono with camera C majority audience on mono.

Again, thank you, you have broadened my ideas on how to possibly film this (given the stupidly limited information about the conference) in strides.

05-31-2012, 07:15 AM
Also a thing I ran into with the GH2s. Make sure you have good memory cards and no hack (standard frimware v1.1) I had some bad surprises with cameras left alone on a tripod that would stop (not span the recording). It is something you should do a few tests prior to the day (eg: place the camera in front of a clock and see how long your recording lasts, repeat multiple times)

05-31-2012, 07:45 AM
I've been both a "house tech" for conferences, and at other times a videographer for them. I can say that more often than not an all-SLR long-form event shoot never goes smoothly. If this is your first time, and you are looking to impress, do yourself a favor and rent a pair of video cameras. I know there are talented wedding and event DSLR shooters on this board who pull it off, but they have the equipment and experience.

You will too if, as you already acknowledge, remain focused on getting framing and angles and lighting and sound right.

Gary Huff
05-31-2012, 09:04 AM
Also a thing I ran into with the GH2s. Make sure you have good memory cards and no hack (standard frimware v1.1) I had some bad surprises with cameras left alone on a tripod that would stop (not span the recording). It is something you should do a few tests prior to the day (eg: place the camera in front of a clock and see how long your recording lasts, repeat multiple times)

I have had very good results with the hack and spanning, though really, the hack is not necessarily for conference shooting. The difference that the hack brings is not really worth it for the kind of video you get from conference shooting, and the 24Mbps is a good bitrate for HD that doesn't have a lot of movement and won't take up a ton of space.

So I agree with Victor, though for slightly different reasons.

05-31-2012, 09:36 AM
Also keep in mind the distance between your cameras and the subjects. You don't want to be on a shaky camera riser using a 14-140 maxed out! I have filmed many conferences but I always use my HMC-150 for long-distance stuff (shorter lens, but stable, plain shot) and two GH2s on the sides to get 'interesting' shots be it of the speaker or as others said, those participating.

Regarding a hack... I'd highly recommend only using a hack that YOU have shot with at long lengths. Personally I have created a slightly modified hack that has a high setting that rocks but doesn't fill up a card in 10 minutes, and a low setting for general event shooting, that is still slightly above stock bitrates. Use what you know, but I agree with the other poster. Running an awesome hack and having it fail to span after 45 minutes, sucks.

Regarding cards... Go get some 64gb Sandisk cards. It is worth the money and you simply will not regret the purchase. If you plan on doing video production in a serious light, then get the storage to handle long shoots. You chose a GH2 for a billion reasons... Among them the fact that you can record all day and night while just chaning batteries! 64gb Sandisk cards for the win! Note: If you are a Windows dude, make sure you are operating on Win7 as other previous builds will not recognize 64gb SD cards!

You can do the event on two GH2s and an external recorder, just make sure your other cam operator knows what you want him to get. Take charge, given him/her directions, then rock the event. And don't be afraid to put your cameras closer than others would like. The folks putting on the event generally wont mind, and you will get a much better image not being 500ft from your subject. Sitting in the first row is acceptable!

David W. Jones
05-31-2012, 09:47 AM
If it were me, I'd keep one camera locked down as a master wide shot, a second camera picking up the tight shots. Unless your speaker is really engaging forget a dedicated audience shot showing people nodding off during a long conference, and just use the wide shot for reactions. If you have budget for a third camera then it could pickup medium shots & any onscreen material.

Have fun!


05-31-2012, 12:07 PM
Thanks for the interest and advice. I read something earlier today about audio drift, and from the audio guys response and what I read here, it is getting more and more clear that I'll rather rent two pro video camera's for the conference shoots specifically, and keep my GH2 for blocked and storytelling projects. This is semi sad and yet semi acceptable - the one thing to get my foot in the door of the media industry and I can't use the gear I already have - not reliably anyway. Ces't la vi!

Who knows, I might end up selling the GH2 and getting a pro camera - later obviously.

05-31-2012, 01:47 PM
I did a lot of conferences with Panasonic camcorders. If you are alone, I would set one center or just off center (preference) and semi wide and use the other camera from the desired angle for closer shots (again - preference) and man that camera.

What about the audience... will you be high enough to avoid them if you plan for shoulder height? I wouldn't think so.

05-31-2012, 02:06 PM
The GH2 would not be my first camera choice. I bought a Panasonic HMC-150 to use for this type of work. Any good ENG camera or high-end consumer camera ( like a Canon G10 ) can do a great job if used properly.

...As for long recording times. I have recorded 8 hour corporate events where I had to synch audio to video, but I've always done this by recording synch points at the start and end of the video/audio, and then used software to adjust the audio timing to match the video.

Surprisingly the only audio time-stretching utility that was accurate enough for long recordings, was the TimeWarp function in the $19 GoldWave audio editor. ( I tried all the audio packages I have, including Sony Sound Forge Pro 10, and this was the only one up to the task. Accurately set the audio length down to 1/10,000th of a second. )


Gary Huff
05-31-2012, 02:59 PM
I bought a Panasonic HMC-150 to use for this type of work. Any good ENG camera or high-end consumer camera ( like a Canon G10 ) can do a great job if used properly.

I definitely second the HMC-150, and then the AG-AC130/160. All are pretty much ideal for this type of shooting.

06-01-2012, 12:10 AM
Please excuse my nagging, what specifically is it that draws you to the use of professional camera's for this type of shooting? I am trying to gather as much info regarding conference filming since my google searches mostly result in discussions around what happened at a conference and not the actual shooting of a conference. Again, if there is a book please do point me at it. Why an HMC-150 (or similar - which after reading the specs I definitely will not mind having) over the GH2 filming with in HBR mode with an external battery power supply and a SDHX 64GB card.

I am not trying to rebel against sound experienced advice, I really am curious as to what aspects pushes the GH2 (or any other HDSLR or lower end video camera) out the door for conference filming.

I'll rent two suitable camera's if we do get the gig. Recording of the audio can be done via one of the camera's with the XLR output from the sound desk?

06-01-2012, 05:48 AM
Why an HMC-150 over the GH2 filming with in HBR mode with an external battery power supply and a SDHX 64GB card.

1- Fast 13x parfocal zoom lens. This is the equivalent of a huge PL cine lens, like the 24 lb Angenieux Optimo 24-290 PL zoom lens for the GH2.

2- Deep focus helps to hide focusing mistakes when shooting on the fly.

3- Motorized power-zoom ensures smooth zoom shots.

4- XLR audio inputs ( you can rig the GH2 with a BeachTek adapter and get similar results )

5- No real benefit shooting with a larger sensor camera for this type of work, so why make your life more difficult.

David W. Jones
06-01-2012, 06:08 AM
Please excuse my nagging, what specifically is it that draws you to the use of professional camera's for this type of shooting?

Mmm, could be the professional features which a DSLR type camera lacks.

06-01-2012, 12:18 PM
2- Deep focus helps to hide focusing mistakes when shooting on the fly.
This would be my biggest fear on the GH2... the lack, rather.

Please excuse my nagging, what specifically is it that draws you to the use of professional camera's for this type of shooting?
I think the common denominator in all of this is that DSL video with the GH2 is about expression, creativity and the quest for cienmatic properties. If you are looking for a mixture of quality/ease/features... it likely is not the right tool. If you are looking to do something creative and prepare for all the challenges, then Booyaa! Nail it. It could be fun to try.

If you are simply providing videography, then make it easy on yourself by using camcorders and know that you still can achieve quality results with little to no stress.

Regarding the audio... I would be prepared both in length and connections to handle XLR, 1/4" TRS and RCA. I listed them in order of preference as well. Also, be aware that it is possible to have trouble with ground loops and excessive levels so plan ahead to have time to work on it with tests. On my HMC40's, I did have the XLR adaptor and it worked fine but my preference was always an interface and a laptop. It much easier to visually monitor and identify problems, via waveform. I am also quite particular about having wav files to work with as well. (audio guys first).

Another help with audio can be to ask for a separate AUX from the board for a video feed. The trick would be to make sure that what you want to capture has that AUX turned up on it's channel. The benefit here is separate control of level and even mix if that is needed. The separate level control is crucial as it prevents competition between the house level and your level. Nicer boards (like digitals) might have a separate main out with a level but ALL boards have AUX's.