4 MUSTS When Filming a TEDx Event

Updated: Dec 18, 2020




She TV here! Today we’re sharing with you our experience being a Los Angeles production company filming TEDx events. We always enjoy filming for TEDx! We love what their organization and movement stand for, their strong attention to detail, and the high-quality/professionalism of their videos. (Read: our shameless self-promotion)


The fact that they’ve created a platform where people from around the globe can organize their own independent events, film them, and then share them on the world wide web (aka TEDx’s YouTube channel) to be streamed around the planet massively inspires us. *SIGH* We’re just in awe thinking about all the hard work that goes into building a brand/organization like that.


For these reasons and more we are extremely proud and honored to be a part of the TEDx community. As a newer member of the TEDx world (our first TEDx was in the summer of 2018), we have learned A LOT when filming TEDx events. We have had many triumphs and a few failures. But every failure was more of a triumph than anything because we learned exactly what to do differently the next time.


Here’s a summary of the key lessons we have learned. We hope these tips will help you in your TEDx event:



1. YOU MUST LOCATION SCOUT

Location scouting is almost always necessary-- no matter what you’re filming, but for live events, it’s absolutely crucial. If you’re a production company like us, you’ll only handle the video services, not the on-site AV services.


The AV team is in charge of setting up the stage, running the screen/slide for presentations, and adjusting the audio levels for the event space. They are the ones who are making sure it’s a pleasant experience for the audience in-person.


You, however, are in charge of making sure the online audience (the audience that will last for years and decades to come-- no pressure) has a pleasant experience (aka pristine audio and a good variety of visuals).



>>AUDIO

We’ve encountered two main scenarios regarding audio recording. The first way (and most common) is working with the AV team’s sound mixer. This method is preferred but still comes with its own risks. Let us break it down for you.


In a perfect world, the AV team will have a sound mixer that is controlling each speaker’s microphone and their audio levels coming out of the speakers surrounding the stage. All you have to do is plug your sound recorder (we use a Zoom H5N) using an XLR cable into an Output on their mixer. Boom. Done!


We recommend getting to know your AV people on a first-name basis. First, it’s always nice to be friendly with the people you’re sharing an entire day with. Second, you want to be at the top of their attention if for some reason the audio is not registering on your recorder.


In our first TEDx event, the AV team had mixed the levels for the audience, but not for our recorder’s feed. The first speaker to get up to stage began speaking, but we weren’t getting any audio!


Not good.


Luckily, we always have Shotgun microphones attached to our cameras, sending the camera an internal sound feed. With these backups, we were able to fill in the gap with the camera’s internal audio (professionally sound mixed, of course).


The second way we’ve recorded audio is via our personal lavalier microphones. We recently filmed a TEDx event that took place in a movie theater. The movie theater’s audio system did connect to working microphones for the audience’s speakers, but there was no audio mixer for us to plug into to get a clean feed to record. We spent a few months before the event brainstorming ways around this.


We ended up with two options:

  1. The speakers would be mic-ed with our personal lavalier (for audio recording purposes) AND hold a handheld mic-- or have a mic on a stand (for audience purposes).

  2. The speakers would be mic-ed with our personal lavalier (for audio recording purposes) and would project into the audience (instead of having a microphone).

The speakers we worked with chose to project, and then we had our recorded sound covered with the personal lavalier. This is the kind of stuff you don’t want to be figuring out day-of, so make sure to figure these details out BEFORE the event date.



>>LIGHTING

If you’re in film, then you know: lighting. is. critical.


You want your speaker to be looking nice and professional, but if they aren’t well-lit, then we’ll never know. Oftentimes the AV team, or the auditorium you are filming in, will have a lighting plan already figured out.


If they do, that’s wonderful! You will want to make sure that they have it set up in a way where the “spotlight” or front light is giving enough light for the speaker, but not washing out the screen behind them.

In our most recent TEDx event, there was no spotlight provided by the AV team nor the movie theater and, thus, we had to bring in our own.


We used an Anthem One light-- which is a powerful professional-grade lighting system that lasts 2,000% longer, is twice as bright and is 1/4th the cost of a metal halide system. In normal people's words, it's a little box light that can illuminate up to half an acre!