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Panel/Round-Table Discussion A/V Techniques

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Randy Rubin
Panel/Round-Table Discussion A/V Techniques
on Dec 21, 2012 at 4:00:49 pm

Hi All,

I am looking into techniques for shooting a discussion between five people. The format is undecided, it really depends on what is most viable within the scope of our workflow

I do in-house videos and we shoot with a 5D M2 and record with a Zoom H4n. Most videos are MOS, single camera but I recently shot 5 interviews with the 5D, wireless lav and H4n. It wasn't ideal, but worked just fine.

Now we are looking at shooting a panel discussion, semi-circle or round table set-up. As I said, the format is not determined. We want it to be a casual discussion between 5 principles.

I've shot a round table before, but it was scripted, with a crew and in a studio. This is live and on a very tight budget and right now only a crew of 2 people.

I assume it'll require renting 2 cameras and some sort of audio solution. Any suggestions or links to articles much appreciated. Again budget is tight so minimal but smart solutions are best.


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Bill Davis
Re: Panel/Round-Table Discussion A/V Techniques
on Dec 22, 2012 at 7:49:50 pm

Interesting problem for this era.

Most of the solutions available in the Rental House environment will largely be older style pro video and audio gear that expects a good bit of talent and knowledge to properly operate.

You can certainly do this and get GREAT results, but at a pretty hefty cost and inside a process that really requires experienced folk to make it all work.

Two cameras. Five mics, A dedicated sound mixer. Video and audio lines to and from everything to a central monitor station. Lots of complexity.

The perhaps more modern approach to something like this is to look at using less expensive gear and techniques - but the problem is that these usually aren't widely available for rental.

You can get two modern good quality HD camcorders that generate a pretty great picture given decent lighting levels - and are pretty much "push record and you're good to go."

Which leaves audio as the challenge. And it's not a trivial one.

You can use wired or wireless lavs on each speaker -or try to use a group of tabletop mics - but each approach has challenges and even tho this stuff is easily rentable, you need to rig it carefully and have someone monitoring the audio mix who knows what they're doing if you want to get a truly professional result.

You could also go kinda rogue and use an approach I like, which is to use a small personal voice recorder for each participant and do all your audio mixing from those units in post.

The problem is that you'd likely need to BUY all those units since they aren't a gear class that are widely available in professional rental houses.

All of this presumes that you have the editing capability to mix two video and five audio tracks in post - something that most modern NLEs can do extremely easily.

You have a pretty typical need, one that there are solutions for - but none of those solutions are particularly simple, cheap and foolproof.

If you have any other questions, fire away. But it would be helpful if you could first let us know what you can spend and then some of us can try to help you figure out what might work best.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

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Chris Pulleyn
Re: Panel/Round-Table Discussion A/V Techniques
on Jan 27, 2013 at 3:01:18 pm

Hi, joining in a little late.

A "cheap" yet viable option for a 3rd camera angle may be a GoPro. Don't laugh, they are not just for skaters and bikers, they are a handy piece of my video arsenal. I've seen TV cameras with them stuck on their lens hoods.
A well positioned GP, (not facing a bright surface or light source) either above the speaker or below, even straight in front, can really give you an often effective un intrusive wideangle cutaway shot incase your main cameras have to reposition.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Panel/Round-Table Discussion A/V Techniques
on Mar 19, 2013 at 4:03:22 pm

Actually, a set of gopros covering the entire room from one vantage point in the center of the circle could work pretty well. You would use the high rez HD footage to create fake zooms and crops to SD resolution masters in post, and thus 3 to 4 gopros could cover the entire thing except for audio.

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