By Rory Green, videographer
As we all know, Help For Heroes provides support to injured, wounded and sick ex-military service men and women. Whilst physical injuries may be more obvious the charity also helps ex-military personnel who have been effected mentally. Their service is called Hidden Wounds and it supports people suffering from conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress and depression.
As part of World Mental Health day, Help For Heroes decided they wanted to live stream a Q & A session with veteran Alex Ford, his mentor Kayleigh Hopkins and TV presenter Kirsteen O’Sullivan. Their objectives were to:
- Generate general awareness for mental health issues in military personnel.
- Raise awareness of their Hidden Wounds service.
- Provide social media content for Help For Heroes.
We were commissioned by Help For Heroes to film and live stream the Q & A session and ensure the production ran smoothly.
What we did before the streaming:
As with all video content, pre-production is arguably the most important stage. If you get the planning wrong then the final product will not be as effective as it should be. With this video going out live, everything had to be planned perfectly, as once the camera is turned on there is no going back!
Once Help for Heroes gave us their brief, our first question to them was what platform did they want to live stream on. Although it may not seem it, this is a very important thing to consider. Social media is all about interaction therefor you should pick the platform which has the most user interaction. For Help for Heroes this was Facebook. Using their analytics, they found that they get the most user interaction on their Facebook channel mid week, early evenings, so it was decided that the stream would start at 7pm, just prior to World Mental Health Day.
Knowing your targeted audience is very important in video production so that you can tailor the style of your video to suit. This is a serious subject and the charity expected the audience to watch the whole stream, not merely dip in and out of it. Therefore we decided to shoot the Q & A session in the style of a studio TV programme, using multiple cameras and a mixing desk to be streamed direct to Help for Heroes’ Facebook page.
We wanted it to look like a studio but that doesn’t mean to say it has to be in one! In fact we ended up using the meeting room at Shout! Communications!! The guests were fitted with lapel microphones, great for cutting out background sound, so concerns about outside noise were unfounded. We’d do a recce beforehand to test the upload speed of internet connection to make sure that HD streaming would be possible. Often relying on Wi-fi is too unreliable so we plugged into the Ethernet and with our 100 MB up and download all was well.
The day of the shoot was extremely busy for me. In the morning I had another shoot and had to hot foot it back to our office to set up for the stream! Even though the stream wasn’t taking place until evening there was still a lot of setting up to do, including lighting and preparing the set. Most importantly I was setting up the camera positions and ensuring that our cameras would connect into the room next door where our streaming equipment would be held.
As this was a multi camera shoot I would be manning two cameras – one wide, the other roving. With the shoot being broadcast live we had to be careful when switching the feed from one camera to another and we had a vision mixer who told me through a headset when I could change the shot of the roving camera. While the three participants were practicing what they were going to say the mixing desk operator and I used that time to do a camera test and trying out some shots.
As 7pm approached we did our final checks and got the presenter and guests settled in position. Then with that, we were live! It’s a great experience filming live. You have to be on the top of your game to do it, ensuring any camera movement is smooth – any mistakes in the camera work would distract the audience. And the speakers did brilliantly, especially our war veteran who had to speak about some extremely sensitive issues. The session lasted for half an hour and the feed-back was amazing. Over 70,000 people watched live and the comments, which were monitored by Help for Heroes, from viewers were inspiring.
Once the live stream had gone out, my work was not complete. Since we were recording on professional cameras I was also able to simultaneously record on to memory cards, which meant I could repurpose the footage. Using the footage I was able to edit down a highlights video as well as five 30 second clips for Help For Heroes to use on other social media channels. Once something is streamed to Facebook it stays up on the video section for as long as you want. This project is a great example of maximising your footage!
Help for Heroes does amazing work for injured military personnel and It was genuinely a heart-warming experience to be involved in a project that helped so many people.
To watch the stream, head over to the Help for Heroes Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/HelpforHeroesOfficial/videos/1506741579343213/
Rory Green is a videographer and editor at Shout! Communications.