Brandt Krueger is metroConnection’s director, video and production technology. As “the man on the headset,” Krueger has experienced hundreds of productions. Since 1984, Minneapolis-based metroConnections has provided complete conference, event, stage production, audio-visual, production and transportation services for meeting and event planners nationwide. The company produces more than 1,400 programs per year. www.metroconnections.com
Although the video recording of events and conferences in the financial and insurance industries has been a trend for several years now, the use of these recordings has changed drastically. In fact, many planners are now requesting that the recording be available immediately after the program and in a digital format so it can be used on social channels as well as internal or external websites. While the use of these videos can be a great marketing tool, if the recording is not properly incorporated into the event-planning process, it can cause unneeded stress and unexpected expense. To alleviate this scenario, having an understanding of the different levels of recording an event, as well as the necessary review process on the final product, can pay big dividends. Here is an overview of different levels:
Level 0 — No recording.
This rarely, if ever, happens in today’s meeting world. When there’s a camera in play, chances are it is recording, but it never hurts to ask your audio-visual provider if recording is included in the price.
Level 1 — Placed on the shelf.
There are still plenty of planners who are recording meetings for archival purposes only. In the insurance and financial industries, this may be for the sake of having a record of the activity. For this level, there are typically two options: the “on-camera record” in which only the video taken by the camera is recorded. Older cameras record to DVCAM or BETACAM tapes, which are professional-grade tape formats. On newer “pro-sumer” high-definition models, the video is recorded on a tape format called HDV or directly to a portable hard drive. If your camera uses tapes, you may see a “tape charge” on your audio-visual bill, used to cover the cost of the tapes themselves, which can be expensive depending on the length of your program.
The second option is a “program feed” record. A separate recording (tape) deck or hard drive is inserted into the video rig, and whatever is being sent to the screen is recorded. Be careful as some audio-visual vendors use the terms “line cut” and “program feed” interchangeably. “Line cut” is a term derived from television production and refers to a particular edit that just contains camera angle switches. In contrast, a “program feed” should include anything that is being shown on the screen. Note that the cost goes up by not only the price of the tapes, but also the cost of the deck. If recording to hard drive, you’ll save the cost of the tapes, but your audio-visual company will still need a way to get the footage to you afterward, so you may have to provide, or have them provide, an external hard drive to copy the files to. When the show is over, your audio-visual vendor provides you the tapes or external hard drive, and they go in a box or on a shelf somewhere, never to be seen again.
Level 2 — There’s a chance we might use it someday.
Still others in the insurance and financial industries go through the exercise of recording their events with the thought that maybe they’ll use it someday. However, many are caught off guard with this option because most people do not have a DVCAM, HDV or BETACAM deck lying around the office. As such, see if your audio-visual vendor or production company will include a basic video transfer to DVD or to a digital video format like M4V (Mac and PC) or WMV (older PCs). If they can’t, there’s usually at least one company in every major city that specializes in media format changes: VHS->DVD for example. They can usually do this for a moderate fee.
If recording to a hard drive, you’re not safe either! Recording to a hard drive is usually completed in one of the many Apple Quicktime formats used by professional editors. Even if you have a Mac, you may not have the proper software to view or edit the footage, so you will have to rely on your audio-visual company or a third-party to convert it to a more consumer-friendly format.
Level 3 — We’re definitely going to use it at some point.
If you intend to hand over the footage to a video editing company, you may want to consider the combination of both the on-camera record (also known as ISO, as in “isolated”) as well as the program feed. If the camera being used is not recording to a tape or drive internally, you may need to add a second deck behind the scenes. This is especially helpful when PowerPoint files or other PC/Mac-based presentations are involved, which is very common for events with technical information or a great amount of detail as seen in the financial and insurance industries. The client can provide video editors both sets of footage, and the editor can use the program feed as a reference to add the PowerPoint files back into the final edit. For example, if you know the footage is going to be used, it may make sense to have three separate record decks rolling including Camera A ISO, Camera B ISO and the program feed.
For many shows, depending on the content, just the program feed may be sufficient for the client’s post-event needs. During the live “in the room” meeting, video directors must choose on the fly whether to put the speaker or the speaker’s presentations on the screens. Depending on the level of rehearsals, the director doesn’t typically know exactly what the speaker is going to say or do, and has to guess when and for how long the camera should be on the speaker. Having the ISO in addition to the program feed lets you go back and edit with hindsight, striking the right balance between speaker and presentations.
Be advised that if you choose not to have both an ISO and a program record, you may pay for it later in the form of edit time.
Level 4 — We’re definitely going to use it next week (or tomorrow!).
A growing trend is to share the information from a conference as soon as possible with shareholders, sales reps or other stakeholders. While this is fantastic from a marketing standpoint, this is where things can really get sticky if you haven’t made plans in advance. One of the biggest challenges tape-based formats have is that getting the footage off the tape takes a lot of time. Many don’t take into consideration that if a conference was three days long, eight hours a day, it is going to take that same amount of time to simply move the footage into an editable form. Video houses are probably going to charge rush charges to quickly turn around that much footage, or simply won’t have time to do it. If your client knows they’re going to use the footage, try and get a reasonable understanding of when they intend to do so, and set their expectations accordingly.
With hard-drive recorders, you can turn around the footage much faster. Though the price is coming down, be advised that these decks are going to be more expensive than tape-based decks. Although the footage isn’t saved in a format the average consumer can use, it is being recorded in a format that can be edited almost right away in professional software such as Final Cut or Avid.
Now that you have a proper understanding of video recording options, it is important to match up your end goal and your budget. Simply, recordings should be discussed before the event and before the equipment budget is finalized. With each level increase, there is an associated increase in cost as well as the equipment required. Therefore, it is important to discern from the onset of planning how you plan to use the footage. For example, for a recent meeting of financial auditors, it was decided early on that they would share the recordings with all of their sales team after the event. Because the planning team identified this need early on, the appropriate level of recording occurred. The organization was able to identify who would receive it, and how, based on their typical electronic tools before the conference. This helped speed up the delivery after the event. Another key area to consider is a review process. Defining who needs to review the final product, especially if it is for public consumption, is essential in the planning stages of your event.
A final consideration is making sure you partner with a firm that is not only knowledgeable about recordings, but meeting management as a whole so they can ensure successful integration in all aspects of your event and help you deliver on your objectives. I&FMM