Producing the NIH-ACS Symposium Video

The thing that made it remarkable was that we pulled it off with 2 guys and 2 cameras in 2 days in Bethesda, Maryland. Otherwise, it was just another interview & b-roll video like scores of others we’ve done over the years.

The American College of Surgeons was partnering with the National Institutes of Health to produce a two-day symposium on disparities in the delivery of quality health care. Late in the process, they decided it would be a good idea to have the presentations recorded. Even later, they decided it would be great to produce a video that told the story of the entire process.

So we packed our gear into 4 cases for easy transport through airports, hotels, and the NIH grounds. One rolling Porter Case contained the Canon C300 camera & accessories, another Porter Case contained the Canon C100, one Pelican Case contained two Ikan 576 LED lights and two Ikan iLED144 lights (plus power supplies, batteries, and cables), and one tube contained two tripods, four light stands, and the boom mic.

We had no idea what to expect when we got there. We set up the C100 in the back of the lecture hall with a 100-400mm lens. We took a feed from the mixer in the room and also clipped our own wireless mic to the podium. Tyler manned that camera, and that’s where it lived most of the time, except when he was shooting breakouts on Day Two.

They had reserved a room in which to set up lights for interviews, but it was noisy and too crowded and it just wasn’t going to work. So a snap decision was made to shoot the interviews outside in a pretty little courtyard close to the lecture room. I set up the C300, one Ikan 576 powered by a Dionic 90 battery, and a boom mic on a stand. The ACS producer did the interviews in between their presentations. Luckily, the weather cooperated and the grounds crew held off on their power mowers and leaf blowers most of the day. I was able to get a dozen different backgrounds in that one little courtyard.

I had also packed a Canon 60D camera for stills that I shot. It, or course, shoots very good video, so when I wasn’t shooting interviews outside, I was able to shoot b-roll of the event in the lecture hall. The 60D does not have the low-light capability of the C300 or C100, so some of the footage is a little noisy, but it sure was great to have all the b-roll when it came time to edit.

We worked closely with the producer to choose the sound bites, but after that, Tyler was on his own for the edit. Rather than writing copy and using a reporter or a narrator, we let the surgeon behind the project tell the story through his interview clips. We embellished that story by weaving in comments from others involved in the project and with b-roll from the event.

The clients were very pleased with the final product, and we were pretty proud that we’d pulled it off with just two people, on the road, in a greatly compressed timeframe.