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Equipment needed to cover a live event?

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JP Pelc
Equipment needed to cover a live event?
on Jun 19, 2014 at 1:59:59 pm

Hi there,

I work for a production company that does mostly corporate videos, and other videos that are thoroughly planned and staged. Now we are being hired by a local university to cover a live multi-panel discussion taking place on a stage, which will go to a live stream online. So I am a bit of a fish out of water here as I have covered many events before with a single camera, but never a multicamera or a live stream. So I need to know what equipment we will need to rent. We will need at least 3 cameras, although that is still up in the air as we have no word on how many people will be a part of the discussion. We currently have a Panasonic HVX200 as well as 2 canon DSLR's (6D and 7D). I am weary about using the DSLR's as they are not exactly true video cameras, and more than anything I want all of the cameras to be the same or at least very similar, so that they all have a similar image. Having said that, we may be forced to use the DSLR's if our budget is too low. But is that even possible? I know the 7D has a 12 minute cutoff but if an HDMI out is just going to a switcher will that be manageable? Then I also need to think about recording it, as in addition to the live stream they want it recorded so that they can put it on their website later.

So what equipment will we need to rent? Obviously a switcher, but where can I rent one? Is there a significant difference between a cheap one and a high-end one? Do any switchers record video or do I have to get a separate recorder? If so, do you have one to recommend?

Any advice is greatly appreciated

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Mark Suszko
Re: Equipment needed to cover a live event?
on Jun 19, 2014 at 4:15:26 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jun 19, 2014 at 4:45:11 pm

I'll skip the sermons about how you should sub-contract/ hire this job out to someone experienced, and observe the process, learning in stages instead of doing a live-only 'cast your first time out of the chute.

But the key word for renting what you need for this is to ask for a "fly-away package". That's the cameras and their support gear, the cabling, the intercom system and tally light system, the switcher with monitors, an audio mixer station and some kind of recorder, plus the encoder for the streaming. All in a couple of travel cases that unfold to create the workstation. Fly-away kits come with as many cameras as you want to specify. You could get by with only two for this kind of thing, but three or four would give more aesthetic options, and reduce the need for the director and camera operators to scramble quite so much, changing their camera positions and framing.

A pro broadcast rental place can be found in most larger cities. Companies like VER rent across state lines. Sometimes, you can rent the services of a truck-based mobile production unit , with crew, from your local cable company or TV news station; this may end up being cheapest.

I don't have much faith in using the DSLR's as part of the live-switched event. I suppose it is *possible*. Running long HDMI runs or SDI cables to these cams and interfacing with the switcher may create issues. I think there's too many things that can go wrong and that they may not be the best tool for this particular application, compared to conventional form-factor ENG/EFP type field cameras.

If you're forced to do this "on the cheap", look at renting or leasing one of the all-in-one solutions like a Newtek Tricaster, or the Sony Anycast.

"Cheap" is a relative word here. If you only do this kind of thing once or twice a year, renting makes way more sense, and the gear will already be fully integrated, tested, and optimized for the job. Not something kludged-together. The barn only burns down one time, you can't go back and re-do a live broadcast. And when it fails, nobody will be consoled by the statement that at least you didn't spend a lot of money to try and fail. If you spend a reasonable amount and get great results, the expense will always be justified.

Don't forget to budget for the connectivity on-site: you may need the phone company to "provision" or run ethernet or high speed access lines at the venue in advance. Or are you hoping to use wireless mobile services to send your stream out on? And you need a CDN, a Content Delivery Network, to serve up the streams to the world audience.

This is why integrated packages from professional event production companies cost what they do: they're worth it.

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Vince Becquiot
Re: Equipment needed to cover a live event?
on Jun 22, 2014 at 5:39:51 am
Last Edited By Vince Becquiot on Jun 22, 2014 at 5:46:56 am

If this is really a tight budget, you could look at companies like BorrowLenses and get EX3s (You can get a week rental to familiarize yourself with the equipment), send SDI to a small switcher like this one. The SDI can be run a few hundred feet and will allow you to pick ideal Camera positions.

A big no from me on DSLR for any kind of live event unless you just need BRoll.

For recording, KiPros, or PIX recorders. At least 2 for program/backup, and ISO for each camera if possible.

Streaming, that's something I'd leave to people who know what they are doing, but you can get a Livestream box and make sure get some kind of dedicated connection. These are really easy to setup and use.

Vince Becquiot

Indigo Live | Kaptis Media

San Francisco Bay Area

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Romel Simon
Re: Equipment needed to cover a live event?
on Jul 24, 2014 at 3:59:44 pm

When is your event? We rent out switchers for live events and we may be able to help you out.

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