As a livestreaming specialist with a background in live event production as well as videography that began all the way back in 2006, I have become very familiar with adapting to change in a live context. Many if not all live events have some sort of issue with their video, PA system, microphone, laptop, projector, or presentation at some point during the production. This is the nature of live events and this is what led our client, Concetric Power to reach out.
Concetric Power was launching a new product to their clients. An AI based, robotically driven, power solution for forklifts in the industrial and manufacturing space. They were planning this product launch as a livestream demo. Upon further review, they realized that in a livestream product demo, things could go wrong. With a substantial amount of potential revenue on the line as they pitched to their current clients, many of which were CEOs, CFOs, or plant mangers, they made the decsioion to pre-record their product demo.
Even after extensive pre-production efforts, you must always be ready to adapt to any cirucmstance you face on the actual day of production. Below is my initial lighting diagram and layout based on the reference images of the location that the client sent.
We had planned a typical livestream setup with a desk centrally located and our talent setup as a two-shot with three cameras. We were aware that at some point the talent would move from their center stage area back into the cage where the robot was but then would be coming back out after a few minutes. The initial plan was to have our B-Cam setup on a steadicam that we could walk into the cage with and then cut back to our A or C-Cam while we loaded the B-Cam on to a tripod. This plan had to change pretty dramatically once we arrived on site.
While en-route a minor challenge stemmed from good 'ol human error. We were an hour down the road before I realized I had forgotten to pack our Tascam DL-10 wireless lavalier microphone/recorders. "It will be ok." I thought, as I had packed two Sony ECM44B wired lavalier microphones as backup.
Our first real challenge happened as soon as we saw the location in person. What had not been made apparent in the client provided scouting images, was the fact that there was an additional fence approximately five feet in front of the robot cage. Therfore we could not set up our cameras as intended and had to pivot our angles to be off axis by the length of the fence.
Our third challenge was the fact that not only did the client want to go in and out of the cage but there were three other locations around the robot which they wanted to walk to and film. This cuased us to forgo the typical livestream desk setup and have to film on the cameras only. Even though it was not going to be a live event, we were endeavoring to run this production in the same way as a live event utilizing a BlackMagic ATEM so we could edit live and save ourselves some time in the post proudction as well as have our camera feeds timecode synced.
This additionally compounded our earlier issue with the lack of a wireless mic/recording solution. With these challenges our B-Cam now became our A-Cam and I had to mentally shift from babysitting a tripod to actively running a steadicam. We resolved the audio solution by placing our third string audio solution, a RODE Videomic Pro+ shotgun microphone, on-to the cold show of our now A-Cam and tyring to frame as closely as possible. The audio is not ideal by any stretch of the iagination, however these pivots in conjunction with the understanding this was a livestream was able to make any room noise forgivable as it added to the authenticity the audience would feel for the live environment.
Crafting the Project
All in all the project was a sucess, and the client was very pleased with the end result. I think it's important to note that after production wrapped, over dinner, I explained to our client that our audio may end up being an issue and that we would work as hard as possible to resolve it. I could have just as easily not told him anything, however, I felt the moment of transparency that could have had done serious damage to the client's trust was well worth it rather than having to explain the situation on the back-end if they were to inquire as to the quality of the audio. I owned the mistake and in the end it was a non-issue and the client was pleased!
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