Webcasting live events has become a reality for nearly every budget due to an amazing range of disruptor video hardware technology and ever-dropping service costs. I’m getting more and more requests to assist with the configuration of onsite gear in auditoriums or large conference rooms for high-quality streaming as well as with the cloud and/or CDN setup for delivery. As I’ve directed multi-camera setups for PowerPoint-style presentations to stream to internal corporate and government audiences that range from a few hundred to a few thousand, I’ve put together this list of tips to provide to organizers so they can prepare in the days and weeks leading up to the event.
Presentation Slide Layout
Instruct presenters to dedicate a consistent area of their slide layout to a picture-in-picture (PiP) overlay for their camera feed. Most webcasts have one broadcast stream (or one video player) which needs to accommodate multiple points of visual interest. For PowerPoint presentations, online audiences want to see the content being presented on the slide deck as well as the presenter’s face. While you can continuously switch back and forth between a camera view of the presenter and a video feed from the slide deck, you may need to hold longer shots of detailed slides with charts or complex data representations. PiP often keeps the energy of the presenter and the event in the frame while the visual of the slide is being discussed. If you tell presenters they’ll have more “face time” with audiences, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they’ll adopt this layout tip. Also, make sure their slide layouts have the same aspect ratio as the camera feed, typically 16×9.
Light your presenters well. Surprisingly, most event venues and smaller auditoriums have poor lighting conditions around speaker podiums for broadcast video. If you won’t have access to additional pro lighting on site, be sure to have a fast lens on your video camera. Most consumer or low-end prosumer gear will have a non-interchangeable zoom lens with a variable aperture at different focal lengths, and the tighter the zoom, the less fast a zoom lens will be. Beware, though, since additional lighting near a podium can also wash out slide presentations, especially if the podium is close to the projector screen.
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