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Filming talks in the 21 Century

Filming talks in the 21 Century

Following a recent conversation with Sean McHugh at UWCSEA concerning how best to use video to capture and edit a talk or speech, I did a little practical investigation in which I aimed to capture a student’s talk using a filming method that could be taught to students and teachers. The subjects were a group of Year 4 students at Tanglin who are currently preparing for ESB exams (English Speak Board) in which they presents a talk on a hobby or interest, a poem and an extract of a book to an examiner. I based the process on a simplified version of filming/editing a TED talk which typically captures a speaker from six angles in order to promote engagement through careful editing.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The set up

If you’re filming on iPads, you have to appreciate that they have quite a wide focal length so capturing a wide shot showing the whole scene, as well as close up and medium shots at the same time will take careful positioning. (The close up camera operator will appear in the wide shot). Using digital zoom to get the camera further away and out of shot works but, the image falls apart a bit with digital noise. In terms of editing this is very doable but you’ll have to simplify the set up with iPads by using two angles plus audience or other cutaways. As always composing meaningful shots will provide most meaning, badly composed shots will be a distracting and will detract from teh speaker’s message.

It works like this… You need to use one clip as the master and crucially use only this shot’s sound. If your subject is recorded with a mic straight to the iPad this will be a major advantage. iMovie allows for two shots to be stacked (the TOP shot will be muted automatically but the level can be turned up to help synch) so you can drop one angle on top of the other and cut between them but make sure they’re synched first. You can also cut to b-roll eg audience listening or a reference images/video at anytime as they don’t rely on sound to be synched. To synch the two angles during the filming you can use a clapperboard (an exciting event in itself!) or get the children to do a big clap on camera.

The Edit

When you come to edit cutting from closer shots to wide shots for emotion etc see the 10 tips for editing TED talks below for a comprehensive view on the purpose and effect. Make sure they cut in action which if it’s a speech may be a turn of the head or a gesticulation of some kind. Sounds great fun and will lead to exciting results particularly if you cut in other visual material associated with what they’re saying. If you’re editing on iMovie on and iPad or Mac you’ll be restricted to just two channels of video so cutting together two synched shots. You will also be able to drop in audience reactions and cut to photos or videos that are referenced in the talk.

Photograph showing set up. I’ve used two LED lights on stands to light the speaker, obviously only an option if you have them. A lav mic to capture sound on the master track is advisable.

Editing in iMovie, you’ll be restricted to just two layers for video. However the superb Lumafusion for iPad allows three layers shown below.

Shot 1 (iPad 1)


iPad 1 – Master shot (Medium) directly in front subject – record the sound using . a clip microphone

Shot 2 (iPad 2)


iPad 2 – Wide shot from left (Wide)

Shot 3 (iPad 3)


iPad 3 – Wide shot showing space and audience

Cutaway filmed afterwards


Cutaways: Shots of audience listening, reference photos, videos or objects

The final edited Video



These 10 tips fro editing a TED talk from Kari Mulholland are brilliant

Jason Wishnow, the Director of Film and Video at TED, explains how to shoot a TEDTalk.

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