Finding the Story in Event Videography

by | Jun 22, 2020

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So, you’re back from the big shoot. Minutes, hours, maybe even days of footage to go through. It’s probably my least favorite part of the production process.

I love to create, love the stories I capture, and love to see how it all comes together, but sometimes getting through the footage to the edit state is the hardest part.

Even though it’s one of the most difficult parts of putting together a story, it is the most important. You may not even have a story in all those hours of carefully captured footage, especially if you shoot events. They can sometimes have so much going on but not really have a good story to tell.

That’s why we’re here! Telling the story of an event can be a very rewarding process, sort of like an “a-ha” moment once you can see it come together. Taking a bunch of seemingly random footage of people seeing, hearing and touching different elements of a training or learning event and turning it into a compelling story of what they experienced is an experience in itself.

So how do we start? I usually break it down into three parts: logging footage, choosing music, and composing the edit. I know, I know, this is how you should do every edit, but with events the edit can have its own specific process.

Let’s log!

video design presentation

Going through your footage is a pain. Just like I said earlier, it is a process that can sometimes seem to take longer than actually capturing the footage!

That’s why I don’t really do it.

What? But you said I have to! Yes, of course you have to know what you captured, but with modern editing software it’s super easy to lay everything out in a bin and see thumbnails of what each shot looks like. I usually separate cameras and days into different bins so it’s easy to see what I captured with each camera on different days.

Seeing what you have all laid outon one screen(a modern miracle for those of us who started in the tape/film era!) makes starting the edit process super quick and much easier. I can scrub through clips that I think are interesting, grab quick cuts and throw them on the timeline even before I start putting together the full story.

Of course, on a film shoot, news story, or any other specifically shot piece, this doesn’t really work. You need to go through carefully and pick shots and soundbites to support the story from the beginning. Event videography is a little less structured (at least in the capture process) so it’s much easier to “grab and go” with shots into the edit.

Get down to the beat!

A lot of event videography usually ends up in a “hype” video to show everyone else who wasn’t there what they missed. This can usually take the form of a music video without the screaming rock stars or chart climbing rappers. Even though it’s more about the footage and the event, music choice is extremely important.

I usually ask myself these questions when choosing music for a project:

  1. How “formal” is the client? Do they like a buttoned-up corporate sound, or can I experiment with more modern/trendy music?
  2. How was the event paced? Was it a bunch of slow classroom-type sessions, or was there a lot of movement and production?
  3. What does the client expect from this video? Is it to hype everyone up for the next one, or just to show what happened at the event?

Knowing the answers to these questions even before the event can be a life saver when you sit down to edit. A lot of it can be gathered from meeting with the actual client or speaking with the organizers of the event to find out the “feel” of how things are supposed to be.

Your final music choice should reflect well on the client and the project, so make sure to get approval before laying down cuts to the beat. There’s nothing worse than getting a great edit together to some cool music, then being told to re-cut because someone doesn’t like the track.

Compose that cut!

video post production

We have our music, the best clips from the days/weeks/months on the job…so now it’s time to cut! All editors have their own process when it comes to actually laying down cuts, so I’m not going to tell you one way or the other is better. I am going to let you know what I think about when I’m cutting together an event video.

First, I usually go in chronological order—at least to start. If the edit lends itself to being out of order (usually to make a point about a certain element of the event) then I will figure that out once I have a rough edit of the actual event start to finish. Cutting close to the beats that you want to end up with will help in the final edit as well.

Next, I figure out what the client would like to highlight. Some clients like a lot of shots of food, some like shots of signage, and some just want to show that a bunch of people showed up. Finding out what’s important to the client will make getting your final edit approved much easier.

Finally, I usually find a “special” part of the event to break out—something to change up the pace of the edit, even if it’s just something weird or interesting one of the attendees said that you caught on camera (that reflects well on the client of course!). This is something that I usually put toward the end of the cut to surprise and delight the viewer as they watch and keep them watching to the end.

Event videography can seem boring at times, but the process to edit can be just as rewarding as any other project. Finding a great story by seeing everything you captured, picking awesome music, and composing a compelling edit can be fun and gives you a chance to show off skills you may not use in other projects. I look at every event as a story in itself, and if I can tell a great one, it keeps clients coming back for more.

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