Aardvark Video was busy during InfoComm 2014, producing more than a dozen trade show videos.
Those familiar with us know that as a Las Vegas video production company, a good deal of our work is with the trade show video market. Las Vegas has more trade shows than any other city in the country and approximately 40 million visitors a year. It is a market we are well suited for because trade show visitors are mostly businesses that understand the value of video. Because of our background of over 20 years managing in one of the largest companies in the country, we are unique in that besides having many creative people working for us, we understand corporate goals and work well with these visitors.
This year, we just finished shooting and editing over a dozen trade show videos for multiple clients at InfoComm 2014. Throughout this show, we had shoots for Samsung, HDBaseT (Valens) and Casio. Obviously we needed multiple crew members and a great deal of coordination for us to be available to capture what’s needed at any given time.
This process of completing multiple simultaneous jobs within the same trade show event, although always a challenge, has become familiar to us. Planning, organization, and bringing along the correct equipment is key. In addition to that it is crucial to be flexible as client needs can change by the minute.
Our InfoComm plans started off with a scheduled trade show video shoot with Valens, who we have worked with at many shows including CES and prior InfoComm conferences. They needed us to shoot on the second day of the show and then to provide a complete, edited video the very next day, which would show their booth and latest product releases. Additionally, they needed us to record a seminar that was part of an InfoComm education series, and also to record two booth presentations.
Several days before our Valens shoot we got an email from a photo company we work with who needed us to shoot trade show video for Samsung. This included the need for a “sizzle reel” plus the recording of 12 seminars, product demos, and a walk through tour of the booth.
While we were shooting Valens and Samsung on the second day, we got a call from the AV staging company running the trade show regarding another exhibitor at the show, Casio, which needed us to record their product demo and also produce a sizzle reel showing their latest LampFree short throw technology lineup. In between all this work, I needed to shoot a presentation for the local chamber of commerce as well!
In total we had 7 people working on the show, 4 clients, and scheduling that required a great deal of coordination on my part along with hard work from my crews. One fortunate thing was that all three InfoComm client booths were close to each other and that made it possible to easily move from booth to booth.
Site-Location Scout, Planning Day, and Setup Day
Samsung, who may have had the most impressive booth at InfoComm 2014, showed off huge multi-panel 4k displays as well as their latest designs and technology. Originally in the job discussion with Samsung it was to be only one day’s work of shooting a sizzle reel and shooting 3 days of seminars and editing afterwards. That original plan grew to a booth tour walkthrough showing specific products and a number of stand alone product demos encompassing three days of shooting.
A potentially live mixed presentation recording is complex and we usually use a live streaming video switcher, the Newtek Tricaster. This requires a sophisticated setup prior to the shoot to be certain the PPT and audio connections are working as well as a design for locating equipment.
To properly plan this, we visited the booth two days before the show opened and began to plan how we were going to do the seminars. A room was being built and we determined where our equipment would be, set up coordination with Samsung’s AV people for the sound, and figured out any PPT image connections we would need. We also had to meet with Valens, the other InfoComm client the same day.
We had originally planned on using our Newtek Tricaster which allows us to mix the speaker on camera and the PPT live reducing subsequent editing time, but these plans were eventually changed.
So at the end of the day, we sorted our equipment and took back to the studio any extras that wouldn’t be needed. Samsung graciously had storage space we were able to use. The day was over about 11PM.
Trade Show Day 1
I arrived at the Samsung shoot around 7AM on the first show day and got my first 2-person crew going shooting the booth. This is camera operator and audio/boom mic grip. The second 2-person crew that was scheduled to record the seminars arrived at 9AM so I gave them direction and got them going and then I left because I also had another shoot for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce that day.
We use Sony EX1 camcorders for all this type of work because with ½ inch chips, low light sensitivity and all the functions of a real camcorder, they are ideal for trade show video work. We had three of these cameras on location. For the Samsung seminars we ended up with just one camera on the speaker, and used an Atomos Samurai hard drive recorder that I had with me on the Chamber shoot to record the PPT.
A Samurai is a device which takes the same SDI feed that would have gone to the Tricaster and records the PowerPoint to a hard drive. Samsung saw the advantages of this setup and agreed with us it was the best configuration. This ultimately was a great decision because the footprint was very small; basically just the camera on a tripod with the Samurai taking up no space at all.
Trade Show Day 2
The second crew was not scheduled for day 2 but I had a new crew member scheduled to come in that day to handle the seminar recording starting at 9AM. That left crew one to record the Valens early morning presentation which requires a 7AM setup.
We arrived and set that up complete with lighting. While they were doing that, with another camera I began recording B roll at the Valens booth, and with a Valens booth presentation due to be recorded at 11AM, I left that booth with a camera and audio setup for the booth presentation capture which crew one would rotate to after the early morning presentation. By doing this I was able to meet with the client and understand what was important to record at the booth and to give the crew that would be shooting it detailed directions. I then got the Samsung seminar capturing crew member briefed and left him to record the first seminar due to start at 10AM and returned to the Valens booth.
While there I got a call from the AV company coordinating the show that Casio was also requiring trade show video work. Now because I had the seminars being recorded and the Valens booth all setup I was able to go to Casio and capture their presentation. Aside from their presentation, we shot all the B-Roll required to produce a fast paced sizzle reel. We were instructed to capture their latest LampFree projector lineup, with the main focus being the all new Ultra Short Throw mounted projector seen in Casio’s completed sizzle reel below.
Just as I was finishing this, I got the call from Samsung that they wanted us to do a booth walkthrough tour video. I grabbed a crew member from the Valens booth and we recorded this leaving the other part of that two person crew to continue shooting the Valens booth. Samsung kept us busy throughout the event, take a look at their completed trade show video below. This sizzle reel is one of many trade show videos we shot for Samsung during InfoComm 2014.
On this day we ended up shooting Valens, Casio and Samsung plus of course as much footage of the show itself as we could. To help with the latter I carried a GoPro Hero Black Edition 3+ in my pocket which was great for quick shooting with its’ better than HD resolution. For the next day we only had one Samsung seminar scheduled which fortunately meant that everyone could help with packing equipment and loading it into my SUV at the end of the day.
We ultimately ended up working at Samsung’s booth for the three days of InfoComm, on the last day recording the remaining seminar and on the prior days capturing customer interactions, all products and displays, product demonstrations, booth tours and a great deal of ambience B roll type footage; anything that could help us with whatever we needed to put together in the final trade show video. Plus, I captured the chamber presentation myself at another location. On the third day with another crew member I continued to capture footage of the show itself, the Samsung and Valens booth and also went back to the Casio booth to record some scenes key to their story. While we were shooting on the third day, one of my editors was putting together the Valens sizzle reel in our studio. In total we produced:
- Samsung Sizzle Reel, Samsung Booth Tour, Samsung Seminars
- Casio Sizzle Reel, Casio Product Demo
- Valens Sizzle Reel, Valens Booth Presentation, Valens PPT Presentation
- LV Metro Chamber of Commerce Presentation
All this started with just one video project scheduled for Valens and developed into much more the days before and during the show.
As I mentioned earlier, trade show video is very demanding, requiring flexibility and organization. Fortunately I have good crew members working for me who accept and actually expect the type of changes and demands we get. A key facet of planning and implementing a plan for this type work is to think ahead and plan for every hour of the day with what has to be accomplished at various times of day. In this planning you determine the crew and equipment that will be needed and provide both staff and equipment redundancy for plan changes and equipment failure.
After all the shooting at InfoComm 2014 we immediately went into editing mode and put together all the trade show videos our clients asked for. We created 15 trade show videos in total in the end. The feedback we received was total satisfaction with all customer expectations exceeded and all the companies totally pleased.