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  Audio-Visual Webcasting Tips

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Audio-Visual Webcasting Tips

Webcasting and recording events can be easy, however to get good audio-visual results requires experience. Preparation and having backup plans in place can make a big difference to coping with variable conditions and ensuring that the webcast is a success. The following is a series of tips and suggestions based on our long experience of webcasting.

Camera hardware

  • Make sure you are familiar with the camera, paying particular attention to any auto-sleep mode. This is particularly important if you are not recording to tape as many DV cameras will if not operated directly go into a power saving sleep mode. IF you have such a camera, there is usually a trick to stop it sleeping; pause-in-record-mode, put-in-tape-and-run-to-end... etc; test this before any event.
  • Many modern video camera have clever systems such as picture stabilization this can create unwanted effects, make sure you are aware of such features and test camera before an event.

Audio hardware

  • Radio microphones are licensed to broadcast over a range of channels so that multiple radio microphones can be used in the same venue. Check with any audio-visual department that may be using equipment in or around the venue to make sure there is no conflict of channels.
  • Place the speaker clip-on mike on the speaker somewhere that it will not rub on items (other bits of clothing, badges) as the speaker moves. Ideally route the microphone cable so it will not intrude on the shot (but do not worry if not possible).
  • Check speaker radio microphone is turned on.
  • Have spare radio microphone batteries on hand. If in doubt about charge left on batteries in microphones always replace batteries with new batteries from freshly opened pack.

Venue Lighting

  • Try to persuade the room-organizers to leave the lights in the room on as it will help the lighting of the video. This will have to be balanced by the need for the audience at the venue to be able to read any projected presentations.
  • Avoid pointing the camera such that a window or other bright light source is behind the subject (speaker), however this can be difficult if the speaker moves across or stands in front of a projection screen. Manual exposure controls on a camera can help produce better video, however make sure to set this before the event starts.
  • Venues letting outside light in can be a problem, particularly if on partially cloudy days when level of sunlight can vary from moment to moment as clouds pass in front of the sun. Closing curtains or blinds on windows can help, though avoid making the room too dark or the camera will struggle to get a good quality image.

Camera location

  • Ideally place the camera where it will have a clear view to the speaker, and it is unlikely that people will move across the line of sight, or tall people will be sitting in the way.
  • Consider any bright light sources, including any projection screen that will be used and locate the camera such that the speaker is not in front of the source. Admittedly this can be difficult with projection screen which reflect by their nature a lot of light.
  • Make sure any cabling is tidy and not likely to be caught by accident when people move around.
  • Remember there is an audience and you should avoid placing the camera where it will obscure their view. In addition you may want to consider whether you will pan the camera to pick up members of the audience, a camera located to one side of the room may make this easier.

Recording Webcast

Before event
  • Tell speakers, if possible before they show up not to wear clothing with narrow stripes. Moiré patterns on the video can be very distracting - and narrow stripes look awful!
  • Inform speaker(s) and the audience that the event is been webcast and recorded, ask speakers if they are happy with this, and are willing to have the event published.
  • Generally speakers do retain rights to the use of the material unless they sign it away, however we suggest consulting a rights expert to confirm what applies in your country.
  • Check with speakers if there is any presentational material that may have copyright issues, workarounds may involve not including the presentation screen in any camera shot, or post event editing of the replay.
During event
  • Move camera as SLOWLY as you can, especially if *seeking* speaker who has moved out of shot.
  • Move the camera as LITTLE as you can. One move every 4-5 minutes is quite enough to make the shot seem *active* to viewers.
  • Always, zoom in/out in preference to panning the camera. So if the speaker moves, zoom back before trying to *find* them again. (Zoom as close as you can to a torso shot, if the speaker is sedentary; but don't be tempted to zoom too close, if they are likely move).
  • Don't try to track speakers who are moving slightly, say from foot-to-foot; zoom the shot out and find a place that they are (largely) in shot. Be patient and allow them to move out slightly... they may move back very quickly.

Contact: Kevin Quick

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