Andrew Grill’s on-location filming kit

As I’ve written about previously over on my blog, I film each and every one of my public speaking engagements. You can see the results in the video previews below (click a thumbnail to play) which were all recorded on location using the full kit outlined below.

Camera: I use a Sony FDR-AX33 – 4K/HD camera. The camera can also stream live via Ustream. It has WiFi that allows me to check the angle and framing coming from the stage remotely on stage using my iPhone and an app called Play Memories from Sony. It records onto a SD card and I use a 128GB card which allows for around 5 hours of continuous filming. I also use large capacity camera batteries and always try to plug into a power outlet.  The picture below shows the camera fitted with the Sony UWP-D11 wireless diversity receiver mentioned below in the audio section.

I keep the camera and all audio gear safely packed on a Manfrotto camera bag which I carry on as hand luggage.

camera-bagTripod: I use only Manfrotto tripods. One is a compact with a 3 way head – and this is small enough to fit in my suitcase. It extends to a full 165cms / 65 inches so it will shoot over the heads of a seated audience if placed at the back.

I also use a more sturdy 190X tripod with a fluid head for when I need a more solid setup (and yes I have taken this tripod around the world). Cabin crew ask if it is my trombone when it is packed in its carry case.

Audio: This is the most important part of the kit in my opinion. As the video will be a static shot of me on stage, the quality of the audio is absolutely key.

The particular camera I use is great because of the compact size, yet excellent picture quality, however it lacks direct XLR audio connectors found on larger and more expensive cameras. To overcome this, I use the Sony XLR-2KM audio box which allows 2 x XLR inputs with complete control over line level and gain. It sits on top of the camera and connects via an “intelligent” tripod shoe so the audio is routed straight to the camera without having to use the camera microphone input jack.

If you have made friends with the AV crew as per the first point in my blog post, they will kindly run an audio “feed” from the main mixing desk to your camera so your audio and any audio from the laptop and roving mics during Q&A will be captured.

To capture my audio I use a Sony UWP-D11 Wireless microphone transmitter & receiver with a Sony ECM77MBMP lapel microphone. The mic supplied with the UWP-D11 is ok but for a more professional sound and look on stage the ECM77B is my choice. I wear 2 mics – my own and the one for the house as I don’t always get a clean audio feed to my camera and also as a backup to ensure I get clean audio if something happens with the feed from the mixing desk.  I use rechargeable batteries as the UWP-D11 kit allows the transmitter and receiver to be charged via a USB port.

The range of this kit is excellent, and the receiver has “diversity” in that has 2 receivers (all fed by a separate antenna – hence 2 antennas in the picture) so if the signal drops on one receiver, the audio is picked up by the other. I have run this system in large halls and rarely had a problem with range and interference. The units operate in the 600MHz UHF band and can be tuned to multiple frequencies. As you’re already friends with the tech team, you will know what frequencies they are using for their radio mics and ensure you’re well away from their channels.

Video and Audio files: If you use video or audio in your presentations – take note of this tip!

Embed ALL your videos and sound files on your laptop locally. If you need to use the venue WiFi to play a video – it will fail (and you will look super unprofessional). All recent versions of PowerPoint allow you to embed and play videos locally.

There are a number of programs that let you download YouTube files (google this) so you can have a local copy of the mp4 video on your laptop.

Editing: I use Adobe Premiere Pro CC – I have been editing with this for years and it gives you more flexibility than Final Cut Pro in my humble opinion. Also buy yourself some external hard drives for storage. One 30 minute talk can be up to 30GB in size from the camera. I edit all my talks myself using Premiere Pro.

Hosting: I host all of my videos on Vimeo. It gives you much more control over branding, embedding and provides the ability to present your videos in a much better way than on YouTube. I cross-post key videos on YouTube for the greatest reach, but for all of the videos on my site and blogs, I use Vimeo exclusively.

If you implement just some of these tips, you will be on track to become a great public speaker! Watch me implement all of these tips below in my keynote showreel and read some bonus tips here on how to be a great public speaker.

If you found this interesting and useful, please leave me a comment below, contact me directly or tweet me @AndrewGrill.