Fast turnaround filming and editing for a press conference

Tripod mounted Lumix GH4 secured onto the top of my Tascam DR-60
Tripod mounted Lumix GH4 secured onto the top of my Tascam DR-60

Filming for Alton Towers London Press conference at The Science Museum

One thing I love about working as a London based freelance filmmaker is that every day is different. For example, I recently received an e-mail from the theme park company Alton Towers asking me if I was available to film a forthcoming press conference at The Science Museum.

After checking the required date, I was able to confirm to them that I would be available for the booking and my rate for the job. The press conference was arranged to announce their new roller-coaster ride called Galactica. As well as filming the actual press conference, I was also required to edit together a 1-2 minute video of the highlights video from the press conference event.

Preparing for the shoot

To ensure that the booking would go smoothly, I asked the client for a brief for the short edit and what their technical deliverables for the project would be. They asked me to edit together footage from the press conference filming along with additional interviews that were going to be filmed and also some supplied promotional footage of the Galactica concept (that would also be shown on the IMAX big screen during the press conference).

The client also asked me if it was possible to send them all the camera files so that they could use them in the future. To make sure I could do this, I ordered a suitable 500GB hard drive that they agreed to pay for.

As usual, I packed my kit the night before making sure that all my batteries were charged, my data cards were erased and that I had all the right kit for the job. As well as my Kata backpack (with my cameras, lenses, microphones and cables) I was going to take my Miller Safari tripod (made from carbon fibre and light) and one of my Tecpro Felloni LED panel lights with a softbox (which is perfect for filming talking heads). All the kit is lightweight enough to carry together and for me to take onto public transport, even if I do have to walk a bit more slowly with all the kit.

Arriving early

I always like to arrive early for filming so that I can set up and have time to resolve any unexpected problems that sometimes occur. I arrived at the Science Museum at 0800 well in time for the start of the press conference which was due to start at 0900. Luckily, I was there in time for the run through so I could work out which was the ideal position to locate the camera and also to get a sense of the running order, the heights of the guest speakers (for camera angles) and to do a test recording.

The IMAX Theatre at the Science Museum is a great location with its amphitheatre-like seating arrangements. The sound engineers, who were providing the PA, supplied me with an XLR sound mixer output cable that I could plug a mixer feed straight into my Tascam DR-60 4 track audio recorder. I set my camera and tripod up in the second row and checked that the audio signals were good. I connected the line out from my Tascam into the ‘mic in’ on my GH4 so that the camera would record good sound and pictures. An early arrival also reassures the client as its one less thing they have to think about during what can be a hectic time.

After filming the press conference, I also filmed a series of additional interviews with guest speakers in the press conference reception area. Once all the filming was completed, I packed up and headed home on the District line.

Managing the media

I then started copying the camera files onto my 12TB Pegasus RAID 5 drive array. Once all the 4K files had copied over, I linked to the media in Avid Media Composer, transcoded the footage and then edited it all to the brief supplied, adding a music bed and name titles.

I was able to deliver the edited video (as a 1920 x 1080 file suitable for YouTube) and send the hard drive containing the original camera files to the client on the same day.

I will keep a backup copy of the media and Avid project should the client require any further editing or changes for a few weeks at least. I do always like to check with the client before I finally delete the media and they generally appreciate that. Please get in touch if you would like to employ my filmmaking or videography skills.

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Julian Langham

Julian started his career in media in 1994; shortly after Julian was invited to join the BBC where he was quickly promoted to Editor. Julian left the BBC to develop his freelance career in 2009. Highly-practised and skilled in constructing engaging narratives, Julian’s key strength is his ability to produce strong visually-led stories. In his work, Julian shares his passion for creating powerful synergies between story content, visual rhythm and music.