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We recently received a quote request from a client who asked for two days of educational conference coverage with a videographer.

They wanted to hire one shooter to man two cameras, and asked us to deliver full-length lectures which would include footage from the presentation as well as incorporate PowerPoint slides. They asked us if we could send over a quote for this type of work.

Of course, when looking at a project like this, we want to make sure we’re not just providing the client a price based on the scope they’ve outfitted. It’s really important to us to understand their goals and to give them options that meet those goals.

Because of this, it wasn’t as simple as forwarding a standard list of “shooter packages” and asking them to pick one. We contacted their head of video production and discussed the logistics in person.

If you’re looking to hire a professional videographer, this article is for you. We want to help you determine what makes sense for you, based on your brand, your goals, and your budget.

Getting Technical

Let’s start by looking at the technical side of things. Looking back on the above example, you might read the request for one shooter running two cameras and think, “That’s a really big ask.” Well, depending on your scope, you could be right. At the same time, this could also be a very reasonable request.

In case you’re wondering, all of our presentation coverage, even when we include one shooter, has two cameras.

We do this for a very specific reason. With two cameras, when it comes to you final edit, the the editor has the option to cut to a static wide angle, giving your video much more depth.

Our shooters set up one static camera with a wide angle lens. This might encompass the entire stage, or it might just provide a wider, safer range framing a portion of the stage. The second camera is the close-up camera with a zoom lens. This camera is constantly being operated by the shooter, tracking your subject and giving you a warmer medium shot. It’s the image you see during presidential addresses, lectures, TED Talks, etc. It’s a really valuable camera to use, because it gives viewers a warmer connection to the subject.

By themselves, neither camera is really sufficient for a quality final deliverable. If you just set up a camera with a wide angle lens at the back of the room and hit “record”, there’s no connection to the speaker. You get a much less dynamic film, and you’re really not going to get a lot of interest in a piece like that.

On the other hand, if you just stick with the zoom lens and a constant close-up, you get a lot of visually unappealing (and sometimes nauseating!) whip pans, zoom-outs, and missed moments without any back up plan. This is why we always show up to every shoot with at least two cameras.

Consider The Logistics

Of course, there are some limitations to this setup. One person can only do so much, so if you’re asking for a single person, two-camera setup, the expectation is you’re not going to have very dynamic angles. The cameras need to be relatively close to each other so that the shooter can check the wide angle intermittently, since they’re going to be focused mostly on the close-up shots.

We’ve faced situations in the past where the layout of the room or the setup of the stage have forced the wide shot to be pretty far away from the close-up, with only one shooter to man the whole operation. If anything happens to that wide angle – a battery drain, a lost power source, corruption of a card, audio issues, a distracted passer-by bumping the tripod – you won’t have someone standing by to correct the issue or implement an emergency backup plan. This, of course, could compromise the quality of the final product.

While the one shooter, two cameras setup tends to work for most presentations, be sure to consider all logistics before deciding this is the path you want to choose. Of course, we’ll discuss these details with you when you put in your request for a quote. We promise we will leave no stone unturned!

Slipping In Slides

If you have PowerPoint slides or any other visual components other than video, these can create a really nice dynamic when inserted into your final film. This way, you’re not relying on what you captured video-wise in the room. Having something else to put in there gives you the ability to offer audience members a break from watching your speaker walk up and down the stage.

Why Two Might Be Better Than One

While PowerPoint could be a great way to add a unique element to a one shooter two camera scenario, it’s important to consider all of your limitations before committing to this setup.

Having one shooter and two cameras doesn’t give you a lot of options if you want to create something like sizzle content or snippets down the road. If you don’t have as many dynamic angles, something like this just won’t look attractive.

That’s why we tend to advise a two person crew with three cameras. The first shooter is doing the exact same thing as before: manning the close-up and monitoring the static wide. The second shooter is capturing a completely different angle with another zoom lens. You now have a third source of visually appealing content (a fourth if you’re also planning on inserting PowerPoint slides.)

Imagine you’ve hosted an engaging presentation and several members in the audience want to participate in a Q&A. With one shooter on site, you won’t be able to capture the faces of the people asking questions. You’ll be getting video of the backs of their heads, which is very visually limiting.

Now, if you had two shooters, the second operator could be in a position where they could pan to the stage and to the audience, giving you the ability to record the faces of audience members asking questions, then a different angle of the speaker providing the answer.

With a second shooter, you also have a very interesting (and sometimes comical) opportunity: someone is there to capture unpredictable moments. When something unsuspected happens, the second shooter can simply pan over and record it. You’ll have your static wide-angle, your zoom angle, and footage of something that might have otherwise been lost in your final video.

The Three Shooter Package

Along those same lines is the ability to incorporate audience reactions throughout the presentation. This would be great for producing sizzle content and more creative videos spinning off of your original content. Talk about some intriguing marketing opportunities!

However, right now your two shooters are occupied. One shooter manning two cameras trained on the presenter and the stage. Another shooter is capturing different angles of the presenter with a zoom lens, focusing on what the presenter is saying and waiting for the Q&A session so they can film audience members asking their questions and get the close-up of the presenter’s answer. How do you get the more candid shots, the stuff that would look visually appealing in shorter marketing films to draw more viewers to your content?

This is why we typically recommend a three shooter team for most events. This gives you your main operator at the back of the room on long and wide lenses, an operator managing a dynamic angle of the presenter, and a roving operator strapped with a camera and gimbal, complete with sliders and other tools that can create really beautiful, cinematic shots.

A roving operator can freely move around the room, capturing content of the audience, dynamic slider angles from behind the backs of their heads, more interesting low angle hero shots of your speaker, and even shots from backstage filming behind the speaker out into the audience. This footage can create a much richer main piece, and can clearly set you up to repurpose and repackage your content in a variety of marketing initiatives.

It also gives you the ability to quickly capture content in between sessions. Consider registration, the moment audience members arrive, and breaks where attendees are discussing the content they’ve just heard. If you only have a single operator or even two operators, depending on your agenda, they may not have time to capture some of those moments that really add a lot of interest and show others what your events are truly like. With a roving operator, the video team is freed up to do more.

At the end of the day, this all circles back to your goals and your budget, and the two go hand-in-hand. While your goals are somewhat dictated by your budget, at the end of the day, you should factor profitability into that budget. If your goals are to repurpose this content to market for future events and grow attendance by 10-25% year over year, an investment in a dynamic video providing the content needed to generate multiple deliverables might help you do that. People want to see what’s so great about your event. These videos can make that happen. Let us help you market your values in future years in a way that photos and still graphics can’t.