How to Reach 30,000 people

September 7, 2018

How do you reach 30,000 people from a Facebook Live? Simple, by creating a production that an audience wants to watch, time and time again. Read on for more information.

Greenbelt Festival is a big booking for us in our calendar and is one of the many yearly exciting projects that we look forward to as a team each year. The project brief gets more and more ambitious each year and 2018 was no exception.

The brief:

To create a fast-paced, edgy, youthful looking video to advertise next year’s festival. This had to not only showcase the best of music, arts, drama, theatre and workshops that the festival has to offer but also highlight the inclusive, family-friendly, accessible festival for all that they are so well know for. (They are multiple award winning in fact.)

To live stream the main communion service to Facebook, from a tent, in a field. More on that later.

The Promotional Video

We have been working with Greenbelt for over 5 years now and each year the main promotional video looks and feels slightly different from the last. The idea is to capture the current years festival feel yet looking forward towards the next with the anticipation that people will be inspired to come.

The previous two years videos have had a more folksy, more “poppy” vibe to them. Which at the time represented the current vibe of that years festival. 2018 was much different. This year, we had Russian activist-artists, Pussy Riot in residence all weekend. The festival video needed to reflect this monumental occasion. The style was requested to be fast paced, punky and somewhat “feisty”.

On our usual day to day corporate events we would plan the shoot with a detailed shot list, a quick reccie of the location and get to work when the doors opened. However, Greenbelt is a unique site with lots going on. Simply walking around “hoping” to find the best shots wouldn’t work in this instance, unfortunately.

So in July, we started storyboarding. We collated images from the previous festival to gather a sense of what we could create over the weekend. No storyboard for an event will ever be set in stone but it helps unite our teams creativity into working towards one vision.

After a few emails with the festivals Creative Director, Paul Northup, we agreed on the music track for the video; YES by Regime, a band performing at the fesival who kindly let us use their beat-heavy, inspirational track.

Having the music track before the festival is really important because we would not know how to time our shot movements or speed of transitions when shooting. The deadline to deliver the final video was within 1 week of returning home, so we knew we would need to be editing as we went along. Introducing, Connor.

Connor is a Salford University student and Class A editor. He has been working with Captive North on a variety of exciting (and not so exciting) projects for a couple of years now. His job at the festival was to ingest the footage from the camera operators as and when the footage came in, convert it into a usable format and then get to work filling in the storyboarded shots I had created a few weeks in advance. Over the weekend, Connor built up the edit and was able to see shots that we hadn’t yet captured.

There were moments of, admittingly, self-congratulation as a each crew member came running back shouting “I’ve got the money shot!”. We would all sit or stand around the iMac viewing the daily footage and vote who got the best shot for that day. NB: Katie won, each day, hands down.

Our team consisted of 7 crew for the whole weekend with 3 more arriving for the Sunday Communion. Josh and Katie shot the main programme content together, Mike and Jay filmed “B-Roll” around the site, James was our Pro drone operator (apologies for the early morning flights everyone!), Connor edited all weekend and I project managed all teams, liaised with the client and kept everyone fed, watered and happy.

The geeky bit

TL;DR – We used a lot of expensive camera gear to make the film look amazing!

We shot on a variety of cameras over the weekend with each camera focused on a certain style of shooting for a specific part of the film.

Team A – Josh and Katie filmed the main programme of the festival including music, theatre, worship, performing arts etc. Josh had a Fuji GH5 with a Sigma 16-35mm lens on a Ronin S gimbal. This enabled him to capture dynamic gliding shots of the performance with the ability to slow down the shot. You will notice that we used a lot of speed ramping in the edit where the action slows down or speeds up very quickly either in time to a performance or in time to the music. Shooting at 50 frames per second really helps to edit a smooth speed ramp.

Katie used the Sony FS5 with a 24-105mm lens handheld. Katie’s role was to capture a more handheld approach of each performance and to provide alternative shots for the transitions. She would whip pan the camera to the left or right so that the next shot in the edit could whip pan in creating a seamless transition in the edit. So, if you saw Katie in the pit of the Glade Big Top waving the camera around, don’t worry, it was intentional.

Team B – Mike and Jay focused on “B-roll” which means they were capturing everything else that wasn’t scheduled in the main festival programme. That included scenery, people walking around site, eating, dancing, flags, tents, signs etc. They shot on the Canon A7S using a 16-35mm lens on the Ronin M gimbal. This also enabled them to shoot gliding smooth shots without having to drag a heavy tripod around the whole site.

Team C – James is a professional licensed drone operator who meticulously plans out all his flights plans on specific drone software. These plans were agreed by Mary, the festival manager, and he flew in arranged times around the site. James flew in the day and evening to capture the festival at all times of the day. I hope you can enjoy the spectacular shots he captured over the weekend.

You may have seen us using a 16ft (!) camera jib around the main site. This was to capture the scale of the festival and shoot dynamic shots from above that the drone couldn’t get. The gear is very heavy and takes 30 minutes to set up in each location. So we had to plan these shots very carefully.

Watch the festival film now!

The Communion Service

We have been live streaming conferences, gigs and live shows for a few years now but we have never before been asked to live stream from a tent in the middle of a field, where even phone signal is ropey! Luckily, we had a Phil from EtherLive on site with us who gave us a dedicated internet line which enabled us to have a strong connection to the outside world.

Once we knew we could have a stable internet connection we could then start planning our “starship enterprise” (Pauls comments!) of live streaming equipment. As we do a lot of live streaming we have a purpose built our own rack of vision mixing and live streaming kit. It is our Compact Live system, or as we like to call him, Clive. It has a vision mixing desk to cut between cameras and video playback, a system of talk back so the director can talk to the camera operators and the ability to live stream straight to Facebook. As a backup, we had two machines that did this!

Alongside the vision mixing, the video playback, the streaming iMacs and Rachel from Greenbelt who checked the comments on the feed; we had our loyal editor and resident techy to operate the live words on the broadcast. We overlaid the words to all the songs and responses over the camera feeds during the service so that people at home or watching later can join in and still be a part of the service.

I directed the cameras (4 positioned around the Glade Big Top and stage), cued the video playback and holding graphics. All the content we broadcast was also relayed to the big screen in the Big Top. It is always exciting doing a live broadcast and the pressure of getting it right is pretty intense. But we thrive on a challenge!

At the time of writing this the Facebook Live Post has reached more than 30,000 people, was viewed nearly 10,000 times with 276 comments and 103 shares. Not bad from a Big Top in the Midlands. The communications team at Greenbelt advertised the broadcast on their social media platforms multiple times over the weekend to encourage people to watch live from home, or in some cases, from their tent.

Watch the live broadcast!

For those wondering how long does it take to plan such a project, we started discussions with Greenbelt in January. A big project like this needs a lot of planning!

Thank you to our amazing hard working team who battled through wind, rain, sun, hail and storms to produce an amazing video in a matter days. Big shout out to JudgeDay, EtherLive, ProductionAV, GLS, the stage managers, all the team at Greenbelt, the Greenbelt Photographers for their behind scenes photos of our team and of course Boughton House for letting us have such a wonderful festival on their grounds.

We always love the creativity, the challenge and enjoyment that Greenbelt Festival brings each year. Time to start planning 2019!

Do you run a festival that you want filming? Drop me an email,