If your TEDx event will feature live talks, you must capture them on video. Recording your event is an exciting opportunity to offer your talks to an even wider audience, as we'll be selecting exceptional videos to be featured on TED.com.
Creating a cinematic experience
At TED, we strive to create videos that are engaging and cinematic.
- Using one camera: Viewers connect most with close-ups. You want to shoot within a range of medium-to-close views rather than wide views. Your default shot should be waist up. Use a tripod for a steady shot, and keep the lens at eye-level with the speaker.
- Using two cameras: It's ideal to have more than one camera at your event. If possible, place your two cameras at 20-degree angles on either side of the speaker.
Use one camera for close-ups. The tightest shot within the range of this close-up should include head and shoulders, and the widest shot should capture the speaker from the waist up. The default position for Camera 1 should be the tighter of the two.
(The close shot should let viewers clearly see and connect with the speaker.)
Camera 2 is your wide-shot camera -- this view will establish the speaker in the room. Camera 2 should capture the speaker from head to toe as its default position.
(The wide shots should be distinguishable from the close shots and offer a sense of place.)
Remember, the purpose of having more than one camera is to collect a variety of footage, so you never want want both cameras recording the same shot, which limits footage variation and editing options.
- Using three cameras: Additional cameras add opportunities for a variety of coverage. You can add medium shots, and/or a reverse angle over the speaker's shoulder, showing the audience. Make sure you tell your camera crew which camera will do which shot, and consider your lenses when you determine this.
- Using more than three cameras: Additional cameras add opportunities for a greater variety of coverage. You can add medium shots, and/or a reverse angle over the speaker's shoulder, showing the audience. Make sure you tell your camera crew which camera will do which shot.
If you want your videos to be considered for TED.com, you must deliver your media in one of our recommended media formats (licensees-only TED Wiki article). If you record in any other format, you must convert the material before submitting it to TED.com.
Slides and visual aids
- Collecting presentation materials: If the speakers have slides or visual aids, the host or the AV team should collect copies of them to keep for post-production purposes. It's best to run all presentations off of a house computer (make sure to back it up on a DVD-R or CD-ROM). If the speaker wants to run their presentation from their own computer, they should test the computer at the venue in advance of the show. These materials become quite useful when editing the talks for TED.com.
- Capturing slides on video: If possible, try to capture a direct video feed of the slides and presentation materials as they appear on the screen. If that cannot be done, keep at least a corner of the screen in your wide shot so that you will know when to advance the slides in post-production.
- Sound quality: Sound quality is as important -- if not more important -- than video quality. The first thing people notice is poor sound quality. We suggest renting microphones. Bring headphones so you can hear what the microphone hears, and catch problems with record levels and mic frequency.
- "Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3": Be sure to test your microphones before the show. You may need to adjust the volume levels depending on the speaker. Remember to ask the speaker to remove noisy jewelry, such as dangly earrings or necklaces that click against the mic.
- Highlighting your speaker: The speaker should be well lit. Layer your lighting by keeping the speaker at least a few feet from the background to avoid harsh shadows.
- Layering your lighting: If your event is in a room with fluorescent lighting, bring in a few floor lamps to illuminate the speaker.
- Frame your shot so there is a clean background.
- Capture your TEDx event's logo, or part of your TEDx event's logo, in the frame.
Film and video checklist
3 things to do
- Cameras: Plug in the cameras! You don't want to lose power mid-talk. Bring a few extension cords, too. (If you have to use batteries, bring extra.)
- Running time: Know the running time of the event. The camera and AV crew should have a time-accurate running order of the speeches so they can prepare for different shots in advance.
- Visual aids: Be familiar with the speaker's visual aids. If the speaker has slides, know the timing in relation to their speech. Slides also help in the editing process -- you can drop one in if there is a mistake, or a section you need to cut out.
- Rehearse: If time permits, bring your TEDx presenters onto the stage beforehand. This familiarizes them with the room and gives the camera crew an opportunity to get to know how each presenter will move about on the stage. Camera crews should be more concerned with the speaker than the host. Obviously it is important to capture the entire TEDx event. Tell your crew that the talks we post online are of the individual speakers only.
- Pull out (slowly) during applause: At the end of each speech, TED and TEDx speakers inspire applause and sometimes standing ovations. Your wide camera and audience camera should anticipate this and pull back slowly to emphasize the growing excitement in the room. Remember to move the camera even more slowly than you think is necessary, for a smoother look.
- Keep camera movement deliberate: Even if you have a professional crew directing the cameras for a live edit, all camera operators should move fluidly in case we cut to the material later. Tell them to shoot as though their camera is always live -- no jerks or sudden movements.
4 things to avoid
- Camera motion: Don't swing the camera around while you're shooting. If you zoom, use it to emphasize or punctuate the speaker's point. You shouldn't have to zoom in and out if you have a camera for close ups and a camera for wide shots.
- Refocusing the lens: Avoid refocusing the camera during the speaker's presentation. If you need to, focus right when the speaker takes the stage, but make sure that at least one camera is holding a good shot while the other(s) are focusing. Consider headsets so camera operators can communicate.
- Abandoning the camera: Don't set it and leave it. The camera crew should work the camera and pay attention to the speakers so that there is as much usable footage as possible.
- Turning off the camera: Never shut off your camera(s) while a speaker is on stage. Plan your tape changes ahead so you never run out of tape at the wrong time.
2 shots to avoid
How to get your TEDx talks on TED.com
Capturing video of an event at professional-level quality can be expensive and staff-intensive. Organizers who have limited budgets, but still want to produce talks that can qualify for posting on TED.com, should follow these five guidelines at a minimum:
- Make your stage look professional
- Light your speakers well
- Capture a live feed from your speaker’s mic
- Shoot from at least two cameras
- Edit your talks
Questions? email us.