Cameraman filming a corporate webinar

Julian looking up through the camera top mounted monitor
Filming with the Sony DXE2500 camera and Canon HJ22 lens.

Flying out to film a corporate webinar

I was recently was booked as a cameraman to film a series of ‘live’ webinars, across different time zones, for a corporate client, which was based in Rotterdam. Those of us in the technical crew flew out to Amsterdam on Monday then travelled on in a couple of minibuses to Rotterdam where we met up with the clients in-house lead video producer.

A truck full of audiovisual kit

The following day was taken up in transferring of all the IT, video and filming kit from the truck, which had transported the kit from the UK to Rotterdam. Everything had to be taken up in the client’s lift to the 9th floor where we were to assemble the temporary studio. There were more than 200 flight cases of audiovisual kit and staging that needed to be moved. We had a team of 16 in the technical crew, and everyone helped which ensured it all happened efficiently and quickly.

Once we had taken all the kit up to the 9th floor, we started to transform the client’s staff canteen into a temporary studio with seating for over 160 guests. All the flight cases and kit were roughly sorted into useful positions, depending on their contents. We then set up the stage area with its graphic backdrop and lights and also the control area where the majority of the technical equipment would be assembled.

Working with the team to prepare the studio

Each of the team firstly focused on preparing their own speciality kit. The video team had the majority of the assembly work to do so I started out by helping them to set up all the LCD monitors and cable networks from the control area to the stage area.

For this assignment, the three-person camera crew would film with Sony DXE2500 studio cameras. Each camera would each be connected to vision control by a separate Triax cable. The Triax cables would allow vision control to adjust and control the cameras, as they required.

Testing the studio

Vision control was the most complicated area to set up as there were several racks of kit to plug up along with the vision mixer and Internet links for the webinars. Once the stage area, graphic backdrop, stage projector screen and lights were all set up, we ran some preliminary tests to try to ensure that Wednesday’s rehearsals would all work well. As a cameraman on the gig, I was required to manage the focus and framing from my designated camera position.

Extra studio installations

Large air-conditioning units were installed behind the stage and in vision control to ensure the kit heat was expelled from the room. There was also a large IT team to manage the streaming services linked to the ‘live’ broadcasts. A translation service was also installed so that any audience member could have a live Dutch translation of the English CEO’s speech. The translation team installed an infrared-based system along with a translation booth next to vision control. Anyone in the audience who would need a translation just had to pick up a receiver and headphones before they were seated.

Studio rehearsals with the clients CEO

Wednesday was dedicated to rehearsals across three different time zones. The client’s CEO and video production team joined us all so that everyone could practice the planned live schedule to take place the following day. It had been arranged that, during the ‘live’ broadcasting, there would be three separate set-ups when we would connect to the client’s offices in each time zone so that each of their teams could ask the CEO a question. These all needed to be rehearsed to make sure the sound, vision and content were fully tested ready for the ‘live’ day.

During this rehearsal day, adjustments were made to improve the stage lighting. We also then had time to fix some position spots on the stage so that we could film the CEO with the best framing.

Vision control was to record each of the three camera feeds as separate ISO recordings as well as recording a separate mixer out. The four sets of drives recording the camera feeds were supplied with power via an uninterruptible power supply to make sure the recordings would be retained in the event of any power supply failure.

Studio transmission day

For the Thursday ‘live’ transmission day the crew had to wear smart blacks, which for me meant filming in my black suit. Each of the three ‘live’ transmissions had a studio audience of over 160 different client staff in attendance from their Rotterdam office. The transmission day all went smoothly and the client was very happy with the successful performances of the whole crew.

De-rigging the studio

Then Friday was the de-rig day which the team started at 0830 and amazingly by 1130 all the 200 + cases of kit had been moved from the top floor back outside of the ground floor ready for loading back into the truck to make its way back to the UK.

Cameraman based in London

It was a really enjoyable week working as a cameraman with the team to deliver a broadcast standard multi-time zone webinar series. I look forward to another opportunity to work with this group again. If I can help with any of your filming requirements please get in touch.

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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.