Many of us who make the rounds of industry tradeshows know that working an event can be at once exhilarating and exhausting. We are taking care of our booth duties, catching up with coworkers, and meeting new colleagues and customers, while at the same time trying to soak up the latest knowledge—all during the space of only two or three days.
Have you had the experience of coming home from an event and thinking: “I wish I could have captured that booth demo on video or at least taken a photo”? When it comes to events, the decisive moment cannot be recreated. If you’re serious about capturing it, you have to come prepared.
The capability and skills to capture photo and video content that is presentable and usable in a business context is becoming more valuable (and marketable) in the workplace, regardless of what our individual job roles may be. At CMD, our earned media team regularly makes the rounds of shows with clients, and we serve as embedded journalists—capturing demos, executive sound bites and b-roll to use on owned social networks during show week and throughout the year. Our work takes us to shows as varied as New York Comic Con, National Retail Federation, HIMSS, GDC, IDF and more.
Coming back to the office with a gem of a video sound bite that your communications director can actually use for YouTube, or a still photo that might make it into a newsletter or onto a web page is something that we can all contribute to. It just takes a little bit of advance planning.
In the tips below, we’re assuming a video shoot at a tradeshow booth, with demos and spokespeople from one’s own company and external parties.
- What’s your story? Even a short 90-second YouTube video should have a discernible story. Whether it’s a sneak peek of a new technology or an expert’s perspective on an industry trend, think about what you’d like the “headline” of your video to be. That will guide what you shoot at the event.
- Give an ear to your audio setup. Tradeshows are extremely noisy environments, meaning the ambient microphone built into your camera is totally inadequate. In this setting, to be usable, even an informal video requires pro audio equipment. Check to see if your camera has a mini audio input for a microphone. If it does, you’re in luck because you can easily add a professional microphone setup. Consider renting, borrowing or otherwise scrounging a lavalier microphone kit. This is a common rental item at professional photo shops, usually renting for about $25 a day. If you’re serious about capturing presentable video, it’s worth it.
- Give an eye to your lighting. Although a tradeshow booth may seem bright to your eye, it is quite often dark from the camera’s point of view. Work with available lighting and maneuver your subject into a brighter area of the tradeshow environment. Consider stepping outside and shooting in daylight, if it works for your story.
- Shoot “b-roll.” When creating a short video story, take some additional footage that can augment the main subject. Don’t worry about sound for this kind of thing; the point is to gather additional visuals that can be edited together with your subject. When it comes to b-roll, always shoot more than you think you need.
- Make a plan for editing. Even the shortest and simplest videos can benefit from an editor’s touch. If you are handing off your footage to someone who has editing software and skills, this is where your b-roll will come in handy to enliven the visuals of your story. Consider adding slides with explanatory information and your contact info at the beginning and end.
- Be mindful of permissions. If your story includes interviewing people who are not full-time employees of your own company, come prepared with your company’s standard photo release form and ask each person interviewed to sign one. It’s easier to get this done onsite than it is to do it after the fact.
As an example, here’s a short video shot at a tradeshow with a commonly used consumer HD video camera, available light and a professional mic kit:
http://youtu.be/LROmfc503X8 (Timber Products)