This is a list of frequently asked questions about VLOBLIVE, live video and anything else that comes to mind.
Q: What does VLOBLIVE stand for?
A: Very Low Budget Live video for Events
Q: Why such a silly name?
A: It’s mainly to make it memorable and searchable. Since typing ‘live video for events’ into google gets 258 million hits, I needed something that was more easy to find and VLOBLIVE takes you straight here in Google.
Q: What’s your definition of ‘low budget?
A: In general I mean that you are not getting paid a standard commercial rate for doing the work. In some cases you might not be getting paid at all and in others you may be deliberately charging less because you like the gig or the organisers etc. In most cases it implies that you can’t just go out and hire all the gear and crew that you would really need to do the gig in a traditional way, so you have to improvise.
Q: What’s your definition of ‘live video’?
A: Live video in this context refers to any content displayed on large screens to a live audience during an event. This may include IMAG camera feeds, video playback, computer presentations, abstract VJ graphics, song words, live link-ups etc. etc.
It doesn’t really include filming live events for broadcast, although many of the issues discussed are relevant to that area too.
Q: Is live video the same as IMAG?
A: No. Live video can include IMAG, but it also refers to graphics, video clips, etc. as well.
Q: Are you a professional video guy?
A: I do not work full-time as a video guy doing live video for events. I work as an engineer working on digital cameras, and I do live video for events in my ‘spare’ time. All of my experience has been gained doing video production and live video for events in my spare time.
Q: Some of your pages seem to give examples from places of worship or services – is this a religious site?
A: Most of my experience in doing live video has been for Christian services and events, as that is my own personal faith perspective. However, the content of this site is mainly technical and is applicable to all live video events on a low budget whether faith-based or not. If you find any aspects of this site offensive to you or your faith background, then please accept that this is not intentional.
Q: What gear do you recommend?
A: I try not to recommend specific bits of gear, as it’s too hard to keep track of things and I can’t account for all your requirements. What I DO try to do is point out things to watch out for when sourcing gear, and mention ways that I have been caught out by poor gear selection. You can find my list of gear that I have experience of here
Q: Is this info applicable to installed systems?/VJ setups?/Education markets/ etc. etc.?
A: Although all the info here is focused on live video events, most of it is applicable to other genres of live video production that have similar constraints – i.e. limited budget, limited time, volunteer crew etc.
Q: Can we hire you to do our gig?
A: Hey, I’m flattered, but I only do work for this non-profit AV company that is run by my friend. We only do gigs in Central Scotland, UK, and only ones that others can’t do on their own, and only the ones that we like, and only when we feel like it. It’s all coming out of our spare time, so you can’t blame us for being fussy!
Q: What does IMAG or I-mag stand for?
A: IMAG (UK) or I-Mag (US) stand for ‘image magnification’. This means showing close-up views of live action on state at a concert or event, on large screens for the benefit of people further from the stage.
Q: Why do people do IMAG?
A: IMAG is generally used at very large concert and event venues where those at the back of the crowd can see very little of the stage using the naked eye. As crowd sizes pushed up, the experience for those further back became rather less than engaging, so to keep audiences interested, it was necessary to add IMAG to make those further back feel more part of the ‘action’.
Q: Why is IMAG relevant to VLOBLIVE gigs?
A: As people become familiar with seeing IMAG at large commercial concerts and events, there is an expectation of the same thing at smaller concerts and ‘not for profit’ events. The use of live cameras to show audiences close up views that they wouldn’t otherwise see adds some visual interest to events, but sadly it is often used when it isn’t really necessary.
Q: When is IMAG appropriate?
A: IMAG is appropriate when either:
It is needed for people to see, due to very large venue, sightline issues (pillars etc.) or use of a remote venue (overflow etc.)
it adds significant visual enhancement to the event that offsets the increase in complexity, cost and setup time.
The former is easy to determine – 200 people in a church hall don’t need IMAG. 3000 people in a large auditorium probably would benefit from it.
The latter is harder to judge as it is more subjective. The types of event that might be enhanced by IMAG are:
- Where there is a speaker who wants to connect well with a large audience.
- if there is lots of interesting detail onstage that wouldn’t be seen otherwise – e.g. an orchestra.
- Where there are lots of people onstage who the audience want to see in detail e.g. a large choir.
Q: When is IMAG NOT appropriate?
There are lots of cases when you COULD do IMAG but you just don’t need to, or where it becomes a distraction of resource. It’s a discipline to know you have the gear and could do it, but to leave it in the warehouse, because you know that you can put more focus on some other part of the event. Examples of when it’s NOT appropriate:
- In smaller venues when everyone can see fine
- when it would be a distraction to the audience, e.g in some worship services
- when there is too much other content to go onscreen – e.g. PPT presentations or song words.
- when the organisers can’t afford it
- when YOU can’t afford it, either financially or in terms of time
- when you are under-staffed
- when you don’t have experienced camops
- when you don’t have the right gear to do it well
- when there’s nowhere to put the screens
- etc. etc. etc.
Bad IMAG can really spoil a show, so you should always think carefully before offering it to a client.
Q: what is the minimum number of cameras needed for IMAG?
A: Depends how good you want it to be. The minimum is clearly one, but that gets very boring very quickly. I would normally plan to have at least 3 manned cameras for a basic event or service, but have regularly used up to 5 cameras in total for more complicated events. More cameras means more shots and more options, but it also means more setup, more operators, more wiring, more overheads etc. etc. so you have to get a balance. Also if you add cameras that aren’t really up for the job, they will just make everything else look bad, so it’s best to ask the question “How many GOOD cameras do I have access to?” and stick to that.
(to be added)
Q: What tools do you use to produce this blog?
A: This blog is produced entirely online using all the tools at wordpress.com. This is a popular hosted version of the WordPress blogging tools that are available for download at wordpress.org.
Q: Why do you use WordPress.com for this blog?
A: Eh…because I used to use a Mac app called iBlog, then that stopped being actively developed and I found a tool that would let me export iBlog posts into WordPress format. I didn’t want to host my own wordpress site, so I went with the hosted version at wordpress.com. I guess in future I might move to a hosted site, but this is fine for now. Also there seem to be offline tools that I can use to do editing offline if I need to, and I can migrate to a wordpress.org site that I host if I need to.
Q: What other hosted blog sites did you evaluate?
A: Well, sorry to seem a bit of a slacker, but I didn’t really spend a lot of time on this. I use blogger.com for some other projects, but couldn’t import posts into that, so wordpress seemed a good option. Go do your own homework.
Q: How often do you update your blog?
A: When I get round to it. I am not an obsessive blogger and I don’t post ‘I can’t think what to post today’ posts – only stuff that is relevant and is worth communicating IMHO. I also have a busy life, so I don’t necessarily get a lot of time for this.
Q: Can I quote from your blog?
A: Yes, but all the content is covered by a Creative commons licence that states, non-commercial, attiribution and share-alike terms.