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How to Get the Most Out of a Convention Shoot
Here in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the busiest and best times of the year for those of us behind the camera is the Trade Show/Convention season. It’s the time of the year when industries such as tech, automotive, fashion/beauty, and business gather to show off the latest fads, trends, technologies, and combined knowledge to better themselves and their counterparts. Las Vegas, well known for glitz, glamour, and fun, is sometimes better known for hosting meetings and trade shows of all shapes and sizes. The Las Vegas Convention Center encompasses more than 3.2 million square feet of meeting and exhibiting space and is currently adding more room on recently acquired land. The Sands Expo and Convention Hall and the adjoined Venetian/Palazzo Convention Hall and meeting rooms encompass over 2.25 million square feet of space. The third “horse in the race” is at Mandalay Bay Resort; their convention center offers 1.7 million square feet of convention and meeting space. So, with just three locations offering well over 7 million square feet of space (and practically every resort in Vegas has its own meeting rooms and ball rooms) it’s no wonder why companies and industries flock here.
Enough numbers and math for now – it’s getting a bit dry. Let’s get to the point: whether you’re here, or in Orlando, Dallas, San Diego, wherever, why would you need a video crew at your convention or trade show? If you’re an exhibitor, you may want to show off your new product on your website – a video is the perfect tool for that. Perhaps you’re just attending and you want to show your customers what you’ve learned and discovered, and how you’re going to offer all the new and fun discoveries to them – again, let’s make a movie about it! There are so many great reasons to bring a video crew with you; you just have to figure out what you need.
Let’s look quickly at the core elements of the typical trade show; you have your trade show floor where all the exhibitors’ booths will be – this is where you as an exhibitor show off or you as an attendee learn and discover. There are the various sessions hosted by companies, field experts, and the like; this is where you focus your attention on one subject, and get an in depth look. These sessions may be small and intimate, or they could be giant “general sessions” that start and end shows. Lastly, depending on the show, you’ll have events/demonstrations; if you were at the SEMA show, for instance (the largest automotive specialty show in the world – they easy gobble up over 5 million square feet of room in town) you would have models, demonstrations, and all sorts of festivities both inside and outside of the convention center.
The most deciding factor of producing your video is budget. It can be somewhat restrictive depending on the company, but with the right crewing and/or production company, you can get everything you need to fit your budget, and end up with a great product. With today’s advanced technology and equipment, gone are the days of having to have a huge crew. This isn’t to say that a lot doesn’t go into making a quality video (let me stress that again, a QUALITY video) but with knowledgeable, talented crew, a smaller crew can make magic! So, we have our budget, it’s not huge, but it’s manageable. Let’s figure out what we want.
Let’s role play! We’re going to be the social media and marketing wiz for company: Fancy Tail Lights Inc. The marketing manager at Fancy Tail Lights Inc. wants a video highlighting our experience as an exhibitor at SEMA 2016 here in Vegas. They want a couple interviews from the tail light designer/engineer, from the company CEO, from the automotive manufacturer who is going to implement our lights in their new vehicles, and maybe some “man on the street” style interviews from some of the convention attendees. The boss also wants to show our amazing, shiny, flashy booth on the trade floor, and make sure the people viewing this video on our website know we were in exciting Las Vegas. On your mark, get set, go!
In order to get the interviews of the CEO, light designer, and those folks, we’re going to want to rent a hotel suite (a junior suite is fine), or a small meeting room in the convention center. The suite will give us a natural backdrop, but if we want a green screen so we can display our company logo or something similar, we may need to get that meeting room. If we’re not going to be conducting the interviews our self, we will need a director. For the rest of the crew, we’ll need two cameras, and should definitely have an operator for each, there’s no sense in risking trying to just lock one off. We need a good audio mixer, a makeup artist, at least one or two grips to do the lights and stands, and one or two production assistants. We should hire a media manager if there are going to be a lot of interviews. That seems like a big crew, but these interviews can be a big task, and the people we’re interviewing don’t have time to mess around.
For our work on the trade floor… For getting interviews and sound bites of attendees, we’ll just need a camera operator and an audio technician. The audio tech won’t necessarily be using a mixer, and they will most likely be manning the boom poll or hand held microphone. Lighting, if any, will be minimal, the camera’s top light will suffice, or maybe one battery powered panel light if you’re really in a bad spot. There should be a producer or company rep asking questions unless you want to trust your crew with getting answers, which just depends on the crew. This same crew set-up can be used for man on the street as well as pop-up videos. In total, keep crew and gear to a minimum.
Lastly, let’s look at post production. Our web video about our head lights has been shot completely. We have interviews with the company CEO, the light designer and engineers, as well as the representative for the car manufacturers who are using our products. We have footage of our awesome show floor booth in full gear, and a dozen man on the street interviews with convention attendees. We sent one of our ENG crews out and also got general b-roll of the SEMA show in all its awesomeness. We need an editor and some time. The editor or they’re post-house rep can give you an idea of how long it will take to cut your awesome web video.
So, there y’all have it, that’s what it will take to get your amazing web video shot and edited and out there to show off your amazing company and products. Good luck, and enjoy that trade show floor!
Written by James Moore, Production Staff at FiveSix Productions