Why record your content?
Good question. Let me ask you a couple. Is the content at your event valuable? Do you want to stay top of mind with your attendees after your event? I’m guessing you answered yes to both. Recording your event captures that valuable content, making it possible for attendees (and future attendees) to easily find the sessions they want to re-watch, or share with colleagues. An engaging and valuable resource is created, which can be added to year over year. Your event stays relevant, you gain an audience beyond your attendees, and that great content promotes future events.
How to record inexpensively
Well, it can be but we’re constantly investigating the latest gear to find what does a great job while limiting the expense. Sure, we used to do all our recording with broadcast-level equipment, but now we have recording setups that will fit in the average backpack. OK, if you want to record your Keynote speaker from 300 feet back, we’ll have to bring in the pro cameras, but we’re continuously strive to find the most cost-effective and efficient methods available. And later, we’ll give you some pointers on how you can quickly and easily produce your own content.
Getting good audio
In a world where video is king… hold that thought… often the quality of the audio matters more. What? How can that be? Well, say you’re watching a video and you’re straining to hear the person speaking. Does a quality image make up for that? Would you rather be able to easily hear what’s being said? Audio matters and here at Soma, we treat it with the respect it deserves. A few things to look for. Get the microphone as close as possible to the presenter’s mouth. Clip on lavalier mics work well here. Make sure the levels are as high as possible before clipping. Say what? Make it loud but not crunchy. Use a compressor (more on that later). I could say more but remember this, bad sound can ruin a great video.
Why we use (and you should too) a compressor
I hinted at the use of a compressor in Getting good audio. Ok, so what is it and why is it a good thing for your audio? A compressor evens out the dynamic range of the audio. Think of it as bringing up the quiet bits and reducing the loud bits to average out the overall volume level. In effect, it makes your presenters easier to hear and easier to record. We make sure all the audio we record goes through one of these fine devices. That way someone watching your content on their phone doesn’t miss a word!
Video encoding – better, faster, smaller
You’ve captured some video from your event and you want to put it up on your website. Thing is the file is really large and if you get enough people watching it it’s going to suck up some serious data. What’s to be done? Well, you encode it of course. Ok for me to say but what does that do? Encoding allows you to reduce the size of your video by manipulating the bit rate, frame size and other qualities. It also allows you to convert the videos format into one that will play nicely with all devices it might be viewed on. In some cases you might want multiple formats to cover off the desktop users and those viewing on their mobile device. We always aim to get the best quality at the lowest data rate possible using the excellent, and free, software from HandBrake. They’ve got some presets to get you started, or you can dig in and manipulate those settings for the best possible results.
Lights, Camera... Lights
Good lighting can make the difference between a quality video or staring into the murky depths to locate the speaker. Sure, it can be tweaked in post-production, but that takes more time and the results still won’t be as good as if it was done well in the first place. Here's what we do? First, we kill any shadows on faces with the main light. We don’t want your presenter to look like Nosferatu. Next, we fill in the shadows behind the presenter so they’re not too harsh with, you guessed it, a fill light. We can also throw in a back light to help visually separate the presenter from the background. An outstanding speaker deserves to stand out! OK, so that’s a very basic primer but hopefully it helps you ‘see’ the difference good lighting can make to your video.
Live streaming made simple
Not so long ago it used to be a big production when you wanted to live stream. Now you can do it all in the comfort of your own phone! Using YouTube or Facebook Live, you’re just a few steps away from connecting live with your audience. Say you want to stream a small event and put it up on YouTube. On your YouTube mobile app you create a live stream, then choose the Mobile channel to stream from the app. Once you’re done, an archive of the stream is saved to your channel with the option to edit the privacy setting or delete the archive. A simple you effective way to connect to your audience. It’s a bit more involved when we live stream an event, but we’ve researched the latest tools to bring down the cost while maintaining the quality we (and you) would expect.
Shoot video with your DSLR camera
Want to shoot better video than is possible with your phone? Well, if you’ve got a recent DSLR camera lying around now’s the time to put it to good use. Why would you capture video with a still camera you ask? Well, they’re small and light, you can swap lenses for more creative shots, they work great in low light conditions, and they can shoot fantastic quality video. OK, there’s a bunch of techy things to consider, such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings, but once you learn a few general rules you’re on your way. OK, enough of the verbiage, let’s see how it’s done in this fine, low-cost video we’ve put together.
Our recording process
We’ve refined our recording process over the years to be fast and efficient. In fact, clients have said that we’re a “well-oiled machine”– modesty prevents us from saying who. What makes us a cut above the rest:
- We talk to the AV company so we’re on the same page before we arrive.
- We arrive onsite a day or two early to setup and test each room being recorded.
- We use the latest equipment we know and trust, to ensure all your valuable content gets recorded.
- We don’t let the record computers sit idle each night, We use them to edit and encode the days sessions each evening. What that typically means is by the time your event is done, the vast majority of the content is done too.
- If you need your content available at the event, we can turn it around in 24 hours or less so your attendees can see what they might have missed the day before!
- We keep you up-to-date and happy.
Our production process
If you’ve read our recording process blog, you’ll have gathered that we like to do as much of the post-production as possible at your event. This works for everyone. We take advantage of all that computing power in the wee hours and you get your content in an expedited fashion. When we get back to the shop, we're back at it, finishing up that last of your events videos.
How you receive that content is up to you:
- We can hand over your videos, edited and encoded, in as many formats as you require. Never ones to under deliver, we include the relevant metadata and can add custom cover art, so the videos play nice with the media players of the world.
- Create a custom video portal that gets your content online in the least amount of time. With lightning-fast searches, comprehensive filtering and all the presentation and speaker info you need to include, it’s a turnkey system.
- Physical media (you still do that??). We’ll incorporate your videos and associated information into our super intuitive HTML5 interface which can then be copied en masse to a highly portable USB key. Great when you want to sell the content of your event.
Fast, efficient and fabulous!
Simple editing apps
How things have changed. We remember, with fondness of course, launching some marvelously complex editing software on a highly (un)portable computer to make some precision video edits. Good times. Now, dear reader, we can do all that on the pocket computer we call a smart phone. Apps such as LumaFusion and FilmoraGo add powerful multi-track video editing to your phone. Trim, crop, add a music soundtrack and effects on your tablet or (let me suggest plus-sized) phone, then share it with the world. Capturing and editing video has never been so easy – check out some of our Vlogs to see how we do it.