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Forum (round table) shoot

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John SimmonsForum (round table) shoot
by on Mar 7, 2013 at 5:20:16 am

Hi has anyone shot a round table or horseshoe forum before. I have been asked by a client to cover 9 people - 2 of whom are asking the questions. I would like some guidance on how many cameras and mics i would need and the best set-up of the table/camera positions. It is in an office space with low ambient sound. No need for lighting. I have the option of a Horse shoe with the people asking the questions at the front.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Forum (round table) shoot
by on Mar 7, 2013 at 5:21:21 pm

How many camera operators can you get? The more operators, the fewer cameras you need for full coverage, because fast-handed ops can re-frame the shots while you live-switch or fake a live switch in post. I could do nine people with 2-3 cameras, assuming one cam is a wide shot and the other 2 have smart operators, cross-shooting the space and picking up singles and 2- shots. For nine people, 4 cams with 3-4 ops should be ample.

Also, how is the footage to be used? If this is for more academic or focus group type work, you can shoot in a different but easier way than if this is for a broadcast purpose.


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John SimmonsRe: Forum (round table) shoot
by on Mar 7, 2013 at 11:45:52 pm

Thanks Mark it is indeed going to be used for more academic or focus group type work and NOT Broadcast so i was hoping for the easiest (most Cost effective)method - this is a new client and i have already impressed with a little vox pop job i did for them and this is the next stage to getting all their work :) They have since informed me that it will be a 90 minute discussion edited down to approx 15 minutes so a lot of editing required. I was thinking maybe i could get away with 2 cameras on the focus group and then shoot the questions afterwards?


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Mark SuszkoRe: Forum (round table) shoot
by on Mar 8, 2013 at 2:15:20 am

Here is a rough diagram of how I typically shoot something like this:



Camera 3 is unmanned, shooting a wide shot of coverage and recording master audio... It could be a lesser quality cam if needed.
Camera 1 shoots single, 2-shots, and 3-shots of the people on the south side.
Camera 2 shoots the 4 guys on the north side, the cameraman rapidly whips the camera from face to face to follow the action, as does cameraman 1. You cover the whip pans from the camera 3 position, as well as the guy sitting at the center of the horseshoe. Otherwise 1 or 2 pick him up, depending which way he faces.

You don't need a director to call the shots for this: each live operator knows his assigned subjects and just follows the conversation.

Your two question-askers could sit at the open ends of the horseshoe, or even behind the cameras. Since this is a focus group, it doesn't matter that you not see the questioners, only the respondents.

If the budget was just too thin for three cams, you could delete camera three but now the cameramen have to catch each other's eyes and wait to move until the other guy has his shot fixed. You could feed the 1 and 2 cameras to monitors so each shooter sees what the other guy has lined up, and this would help them coordinate.



Audio wise: you could hang a few lavs from the ceiling, or use boundary mics either on the ceiling or on the table. On the table, I find one boundary "PZM" type mic can pick up three people, so three mics could cover this. Ideally you'd mic each person and have a live audio mix operator or an automixer pot them up and down as each one talks. Audio is actually the most challenging aspect of this setup to do well. More than the cameras.

Lighting-wise, I would use a softbox next to cams 1 and 2, aimed so they both touch the center of the shoe but otherwise one light per zone. I know you said room lights only for this.


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John SimmonsRe: Forum (round table) shoot
by on Mar 8, 2013 at 5:20:12 am

Thanks so much Mark, this looks like the way to go. As you say the audio is the tricky bit. :)


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