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Nearing midnight on the Saturday 21st September and I pack away my camera equipment after 15 hours of filming.  Reggae band1 Eye have just finished their set at this years Black Exposure Live; signalling the end of my first experience of live event filming and a day in which many lessons where learnt.

Before going into more detail about the event and getting into the main part of this post, I’d first like to apologise for not updating this blog in the past two months. Basically after completing the David Lynch challenge I travelled Europe for a few weeks and then decided to start a film production company (Purple Camera Media); both of these have taken up my time the last weeks and I have been unable to write anything. Things have calmed down a bit now and I’m going to be updating twice a week… on Mondays I will write a post about Purple Camera and things the company has undertaken and on Thursdays I will begin my new challenge which is to watch every Woody Allen in reverse order.

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For those who don’t know Black Exposure Live – commonly known as BEX Live –  it is an annual event that takes place in Birmingham, the event celebrates the diversity and culture within the midlands and the UK as a whole. Purple Camera got involved in June this year when we filmed the launch (our first official company business!), however the actual event was going to be a lot more strenuous than that.

This event was my own and Purple Camera’s first delve into live event filming and it was just a few hours in that we realised spare batteries and memory cards are an essential purchase. Luckily we BEX Live’s Media Director – Tim from Bright Ideas Media – on hand and he had spares which we could borrow… even so this didn’t prove to be enough for the purposes we wanted. In an ideal world we would have three cameras recording at all times and for large parts of  the event this was how it worked out. However as the event wore on one of the cameras (or at times two) would be inoperable for an hour due to the battery having died or footage needing to be copied over. Although this shouldn’t hinder the quality of the output videos (which are being put together as I write) it does mean there is a less choice to choose from and there isn’t as much coverage as I would like. Following the event extra batteries and SD cards where promoted to the top of Purple Camera’s shopping list.

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Battery life problems aside the filming actually went extremely well in nearly every area. The event was split into two parts – a daytime exhibition with stalls promoting local businesses followed by a live-show in the evening.

The daytime event was the more strenuous of the two as it involved walking amongst a busy crowd capturing interviews with the business owners and also useable shots of their products. With the crowd moving around and the business owners more interested in customers than a camera crew (for obvious reasons); this involved a lot of patience and quick set-up times. It is here than the company’s use of DSLR’s and monopod’s proved to be a good decision.

Many articles have already been written online about the advantage of DSLR filmmaking compared to larger cameras so I won’t repeat what’s already been said other than to say that the smallness and manoeuvrability of these cameras was a godsend when filming in the midst of a crowd. Monopods where also extremely helpful I could easily adjust the height and tilt and be ready to film in just a few seconds.

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So with the daytime event finished we had a quick lunch break (KFC!!!) before returning to film the performance and I have to say even though I was concentrating on videoing that the quality and range of talent on show was quite incredible. The show included many different acts including The British Heart Foundation Gospel Choir, a fashion show from South and City College Birmingham and performances from many artists including Paigey Cakey, Rio, Delilah and the previously mentioned 1 Eye. Miss Jamaica UK Gemma Feare presented the event alongside comedian Sandra Bee, both of whom did wonderful jobs. In terms of filming I was tasked with shooting close-ups of each act that would be cut with a static wide shot. This meant moving across the front of the stage to get good framing and although I had no real plan of where to shoot from at the start of the show I soon found myself returning to same three spots in order to get correct framing for each act.

The entire experience was truly fantastic and has left me wanting to film more live events and improve my skills. It was truly hard work but when the edited videos are shown I am confident it will have been entirely worth it and hope that Purple Camera can remain media partners of BEX Live for next years event.