Event films are commonly a document of a moderated panel or a product launch. The former doesn’t offer much room for writing, as the camera crew and editor will largely be “following the puck”, but you may want to consider what context needs to be established in an opening sequence. What sorts of things do you want to convey? “People arrive” at a “busy event” and are “eagerly taking notes”? If considered in advance, this opening montage could set up the event as very important and well attended, and is a much stronger position than just showing up and shooting what you happen to notice. Similarly, you can brainstorm what might be a good conclusion and – if other activities will be taking place – any good extra pieces to build.
An event–based video may require more structure, but these are often frustratingly lacking in advance detail. Clients are often scrambling to pull these together. Getting a detailed walkthrough of how the event will unfold, what you may are may not do, or getting access to the location in advance are all unfortunately unlikely things to happen. Odds are you’ll have to imagine what could happen, describe how you might shoot it, and hope that the shooting team can extrapolate an appropriate shot–list when they arrive and cobble the planned story together. In this case, it’s helpful to focus on the mood and tone of what should be shot so that the subtext is clear, and suggesting specific shots that would help categorise the event in the best light.
The best case for preparation for these event films is a well thought–out treatment, with a clear objective, tone and concept, and a script only written as a loose guide of how the film should unfold but leaving plenty of room for interpretation when the crew encounters reality, if it’s even written at all.
Dosnoventa launch party
This event films tackles the standard challenge of generating video out of something that the marketing team is probably doing anyway. It moves well through the essential story elements quickly, setting the scene, showing interest and excitement in the crowd, the product and then people reacting favourably to the product— all with a stylish (though probably illegally–used) soundtrack. The creators effectively portray a fun and busy event, which can be surprisingly difficult as the space, lighting, attendance and amount of time where people will be gathered can be hard things to get information about in advance.
All boxes checked by the 60–second mark, the film begins to meander and becomes a document of things that occurred during the course of the evening — not very relevant or interesting to a general audience. This may be because of the original distribution intention of the film — it may have been for a particular presentation or in–store playback, where an extended duration has its purpose. Then the film goes completely bizarre with an epic end-credit sequence that runs one third of the total length of the piece. I’ve never seen this in a similar film, and would discourage any emulation of this approach.
Katy Perry product launch
Here we have an example of a celebrity-driven event film, which takes a step towards traditional paparazzi or ENG-style footage. She (self–consciously) delivers marketing messages to camera, intercut with abundant context footage. The audience could be her core audience of younger teens, but – due to its lack of entertainment or engagement – I suspect more an annual corporate marketing presentation to inform Nordstrom stakeholders that the event took place. Aside from the ‘to camera’ marketing messages, the video is largely just a document of what took place.
Xbox Spring Showcase 2016
Exploring the same territory as the Dosnoventa launch, this video attempts to portray the energy, atmosphere and attendance of the event. While it begins strongly, it exposes one of the challenges of the format — repetition. It is wisely kept brief, but after 20 seconds it becomes quite clear that we are essential looking at a bunch of young men standing around playing video games by themselves. No amount of clever editing or clever camerawork will change that story, and when the story stalls, interest falls.
This is where a little cooperative information about the event can help the creative planning (and therefore the production team) make a more engaging film, looking for story points rather than stretching a single moment in time for as long as possible. Maybe it would have been possible to capture footage of the clients rushing into the space, starting up the game with excited anticipation, taking breaks, reluctantly putting the game down, or grabbing a copy on the way out. I don’t know what challenges the creators were up against, they may well have done an exceptional job given the constraints, but this extra level of brainstorming sequences or story points can elevate your event films from competent to engaging.
DJI Inspire 1 Launch Event and Behind The Scenes
This pair of films is a quite interesting comparison. The first is a straight event film, streamed directly to the internet with a live multi–camera switch. It is intended to be consumed as a broadcast rather than ongoing online content. While it can clearly be viewed at a later date, much of its value depends on the evidence of the live broadcast, thereby demonstrating characteristics of the featured product. Most event films are more contrived, featuring highlights of the actual event.
Interestingly, the ‘behind the scenes’ film is a testimonial advertisement for Teradek but accomplishes in the first 10 seconds much of what a good event film should — giving context and overview of the event in a succinct and engaging way.