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Shot of the camera viewfinder with the live audience in the backgroundLongtime working partner, Brennan Robison of JBR Communications called Mixed Bag Media to help figure out a production plan for one of his clients, The Integral Group. The idea was to shoot “Inside The Integral Group” modeled after the popular television show “Inside the Actor’s Studio. They wanted to shoot a nine person moderated panel discussion in front of a live audience. He called the right place!

The catch, they had a very tight budget to accomplish something this big.  As anyone who has ever been involved behind the scenes or in planning a conference of any size can tell you, to pull off something like this does not come inexpensively.  By coming up with an extremely efficient and well-organized plan, we were able to pull off the production with a minimum amount of crew and still come in $50 under budget.  It’s not much, but under budget is under budget, right?

The shoot actually took place in an office building auditorium. There was a stage, some lighting and audio already in place, so we had a few resources to begin with, which helped.  The plan ended up working out so that there were two camera operators (myself being one) and two audio operators hidden in the wings behind the stage.  We used five cameras and were recording individual audio tracks from ten microphones!

Cameras set up in front of the live panel on stageFrom the projection booth, we set one camera on a wide shot, including a few rows of the audience and locked it off.  Then we set and locked off a medium shot on the moderator.  We knew he would not be moving around much once in his chair, so that allowed us to feel secure in leaving this camera without an operator.

I manned two cameras, one locked off on a wide shot of the panel on stage, which comprised nine people and the other I manually operated to get the close-ups of whomever on the panel was speaking.  Lastly, MBM team-member Bryan Simmons was getting cutaway shots of the crowd and other, different angles of the action happening on stage.  After the moderated discussion on-stage, individuals from the 250 person audience were asked to come to a central mic located right in front of the stage to ask the panel questions.

This is not the kind of production just anyone can do.  In a span of eight hours, we came in, set-up, did the shoot, broke down and were out of there.  The four crew-members, with many years of combined professional experience, made this possible.  I swelled with pride after the show was officially over.