Live event filming like a TED Talks on a budget

By February 10, 2016Blog
Live event filming like a TED Talks on a budget

Use a TED Talks event as a standard for live event filming

TED Talks are known as the standard for filming conferences around the world. Its where some of the best speakers in the world come together to share their stories on fascinating subjects. While TED and TEDx events have reinvented the standard for a great presentation, the events also demonstrate how an event should be filmed. TED Talks have big sponsors, but what if you don’t have a huge production budget ? Below are some guidelines which will improve any event filming.

1. Work with what you’ve got – Visit the venue ahead of time

A TED Talks event will have the advantage of being filmed at a venue which has the right audio/video infrastructure in place. However, not all event spaces are created equal. You may find that the location to film an event is in a hotel conference room with little atmosphere. Making matters worse the room has terrible light and is uninspiring. Visit the venue ahead of schedule to get an idea of the space. If you can’t visit the venue before the event, see if you can get a photo from a previous event. Preparation is key and its important to know what you will be working with before any live event filming takes place.

2. Audio recording needs to be a priority

Recording clean audio is one of those things that just needs to be right at any live event filming. It may in fact be the most important items. In almost all cases, a viewer will likely click away from any video they cannot hear. While a Ted Talks event will have some of the best audio equipment, below are a few options that will enable you to record great audio.

Option 1 – Sound mixer – connect using a XLR cable

Most professional video cameras will be able to connect to a sound mixer using a XLR cable. If your camera does not have XLR connectivity, the problem can be solved by connecting an audio adapter such as the Beachtek DXA-SLR ULTRA , Zoom F4 or Juicedlink Riggy-Micro RM333.  Audio captured from a speaker’s lapel or hand held microphone can then be fed directly from the sound mixer to a video camera.

Learn how to film a conference like a TED Talk on a budget - beachtek audio solutions


Learn how to film a conference like a TED Talk on a budget - Zoom h6

Zoom H6

Learn how to film a conference like a TED Talk on a budget - juicedlink audio

Juicedlink Riggy-Micro

Option 2 – Recording sound from a wireless microphone directly to a video camera

In the event that the conference does not have a sound mixer, audio can be recorded directly from a wireless lapel microphone. The wireless microphone receiver can be be fed directly into a video camera with a microphone input. Try fitting a video camera with an audio adapter such as the Beachtek DXA-SLR ULTRA , ZOOM H6 or Juicedlink Riggy-Micro RM333 for additional functionality. Monitoring audio as it is recorded is equally important and the devices above will let you listen in with a pair of headphones. This is an essential process in any live event filming.

Learn how to film a conference like a TED Talk on a budget - wireless audio solutions

Wireless system configured to sound mixer

Option 3 – Recording audio directly to a smartphone or iPhone

If production budgets are really tight, great audio can still be recorded to a smartphone. RØDE have created a lapel microphone for smartphones called the the smartLav+. Alternatively, Sennheiser have created a lapel microphone for iPhones called the ClipMic digital. This lapel mic will capture broadcast quality audio.

Recorded audio can automatically be synced up in post-production against any video using a tool such as RedGiant’s Plural Eyes.

Smartlav plus learn how to film an event like a TED Talks


clipmic digital - learn how to film an event like a TED Talks

Sennheiser Digital ClipMic

3. Use multiple cameras and mix up those shots

A TED Talk may use 4 or more cameras to record an event which makes viewing a pleasure. However, it’s possible to get away with some really great shots using a two camera set-up. But what if a production only has access to one camera? Below are some options for your consideration.

1 camera set-up

Events can be filmed with one camera, but its important to understand the limitations. If the presenter is using a slide deck, it won’t be possible to film a close-up of a presenter without playing around with the zoom. The process can get a bit messy if not handled with care. Consider the following if you want to avoid potentially messy zooming:

  • Focus only on filming the presenter up close (head and shoulders). Afterwards, slides can be added in during the post-production process.


  • Film a wide shot that captures both the presenter and slide deck using a camera than can record in 4K. During the editing process, the post-production team can then crop footage of the presenter where needed. If the project is being output in 720p or 1080p, there will be some room for editors to crop footage without a real loss of quality.

2 camera set-up

This type of camera set-up will go a long way in making any recorded video look more dynamic. The primary camera can film a close up shot of the presenter that includes the head and shoulders. The secondary camera can be placed at the back of the venue to capture a wide shot of the audience, presenter and slide deck (if one is in use). In post-production, the two different vantage points will offer more editing options.

3 camera set-up

Following on from the 2 camera set-up, use a third camera to film audience reactions.

4 camera set-up

Following on from the 3 camera set-up, use a fourth camera to capture a side angle of the presenter. Alternatively, any other interesting vantage point can be selected. Each camera used will go along way to creating a Ted Talks like viewing experience.

Bringing all of the footage together

The only drawback of using multiple cameras is that the post-production effort will often take longer. Simply put there will be more footage for the editors to review in post-production. The editing team will need Redgiant’s Plural Eyes or a similar tool if they want to sync up footage automatically. Attempting to manually sync up recorded footage is less than ideal.

4. Lighting – Events that matter need good lighting

Nothing is worse than viewing a recording of a great speaker filmed in the dark. Often times there may be a temptation to lower the lights to create atmosphere. However, filming a speaker in the dark is a terrible decision and will look unprofessional.

Presenters should stand in a well lit area. If the venue is not set up for event filming, consider talking to a lighting director for advice. Having a primary light source, key light, which is aimed at the presenter will make a big difference.  If the event is going to be filmed in a room with no event lighting set-up, the production team will need to consider bringing in portable lights.


Best of luck with your filming our event from Video Effect. If you have any further questions feel free to drop us a line.

Leave a Reply