Brian Abe

Our job as video livestream providers is to protect your brand at every level. In case you didn’t know we provide full HD, multi-camera production and livestream services for executive town hall meetings, sales meetings, marketing, and conferences.

I’ve spent most of my professional life in internal communications and marketing and I focus primarily on the video livestream and camera direction. However, I’m watching every decision the AV team makes closely. I’m well aware the decisions made by others can affect everything I do.

I live by Rule #1: Know your audience.

For the sake of this article let’s define AVL as Audio, Video and Lighting in a 100-500 employee town hall meeting. Most internal corporate communication teams feel ‘AVL’ or “AV’ is a necessity and may not have time for minutia regarding lighting, audio and video for the livestream. Please know I am aware of the pitfalls and can save you pain and embarrassment with your leadership team. While I’m primarily focused on conveying brand identity through video I’m constantly weighing all the technical aspects and how it may affect your internal and/or external brand and event.

Lighting: In addition to the livestream/camera direction portion of the event I begin working with the lighting team early in the set up and measure light levels to ensure the CEO isn’t standing in a dark spot on the stage. We carefully collaborate with the lighting team to make sure there’s plenty of light where it should be and where it shouldn’t be.

If the CEO has gray hair or no hair we carefully balance the back light to create a clean separation from the background while making sure we don’t cause their head to bloom like the sun. If the CEO has dark hair and a dark coat we’re careful to make sure the backlight is visible enough to help him/her stand out from the background. Most lighting companies would do well to consider the contrast ratio between the foreground subjects and the background elements. Sometimes backgrounds are so bright that they overcome the main speaker in the foreground, especially when integrating LED walls. We want all eyes on the main speaker in the room and the livestream event.

If the CEO or leadership team leaves the stage and interacts with the audience we make sure our light levels and lighting angles in the audience are appropriate for multiple camera angles where possible. Again, this is not network television and so we allow for some organic, impromptu moments which sometimes add to the energy level, especially on-line.

Audio: The next area we like to be closely involved in is audio/room sound. For this discussion we typically take an audio feed from the mixing console in the room. Obviously, most audio people understand the importance of the sound system speaker placement in regards to proximity of microphones and especially multiple mics or omni-directional lavs typically used in town halls.

We are careful to collaborate on mic placement especially with BIG and LOUD jewelry as well as challenging dresses which may not have a good place to clip a wireless mic. Hand held wireless mics are always available as spare mics in the event of audio problems.

When possible I ask the audio guys to add an ambient ‘audience’ mic just for the on-line video audience to hear audience applause and/or room ambience during reactions or transitions. During speaker transitions it’s an awkward on-line silence when mics are being muted or transitioned and the room goes completely silent while showing 300 employees. A bit of room noise/ambience minimizes quiet times for those watching on-line. If you’re fortunate enough and have the budget to include a separate audio mix for video apart from the sound in the room, stereo audience mics should be a necessity.

Video/camera angles: Placement of cameras is critical for the brand and very much a part of the story at each town hall meeting. (we typically bring three cameras unless you need more) We not only want to protect the CEO and leadership team’s credibility we also want to show them as approachable and human. Most CEO’s struggle with the c-suite stigma and placement of cameras can help.

During the CEO address or monologue, in the stand-up position, we typically use ‘camera 1’ one long lens to capture the CEO at a ‘waste shot.’ ‘Camera 2’ is used to show the size of the audience from the same angle. The employee audience is a big part of the story. The ‘Camera 3 angle is used for tight shots on stage for sit down interviews with the leadership team and can also swing around to the audience to cover that interaction as well. The third angle is also positioned to cover the CEO stand-up with the video screen in the background which makes a nice angle to transition in and out of graphics, slide deck or video.

If there will be sit down interviews with the leadership team we pay close attention to tight shots to make sure we can get close enough for a ‘tv talk show’ look. We keep in mind that we’re balancing the camera shots and angles with larger video screens and monitors in the room for the audience with the on-line audience.

I use the pacing and speed of the ‘camera-cutting’ to drive the energy. I listen carefully to content and voice inflection. This applies in most any event, however If I feel the CEO is struggling for words or momentum is waining I change camera angles and pick up the pace of the cutting to help the viewer stay focused until the CEO is back on track. There’s nothing like tight shots of a CEO with a puzzled look on their face struggling for words to erode leadership credibility. My experience has been that CEO’s are some of the best speakers and their authenticity is what made them the CEO in the first place. I encourage them to use it, be vulnerable and admit mistakes since it only endears the employee team even more.

Well, if you made it this far you must be in the business, you want to know more about what I do or you had a few spare minutes.

When we meet to walk through your next town hall, conference or marketing event please know we’re weighing all these details so you don’t have to think about it. Your input is needed every step of the way because you know your audience. However please rest in our attention to detail at your event.

Thanks for your time. I’d love to hear your secrets to video storytelling. It’s the best business in the world and I’ve never worked a day in my life!

It’s all about the STORY!

About Author

Brian Abe
Brian Abe

Brian Abe is an award-winning visual story teller, producer, multi-camera director, editor and leader of creative teams.

Connect with Me: