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 one of the many yearly exciting projects that we look forward to as a team. The project brief gets more ambitious each year and 2018 was no exception.

The brief: in two parts.

To create a fast-paced, edgy, youthful looking video to advertise next year’s festival. It has to showcase the best of music, arts, drama, theatre, worship and workshops but also highlight the inclusive, accessible, family-friendly that they are so well known 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 and each year the main promotional video looks and feels slightly different from the last. The idea is to capture the current years festival theme 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 year’s 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”.

Our usual day to day corporate events would require us to 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, in this instance, would not work.

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 vital because it helps our camera team plan shot movements and speed of transitions.

The deadline to deliver the final video was within 1 week after the festival, so we decided to bring our own on-site editor. 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 team, convert it into a usable format and then get to work building the story of Greenbelt. Below is a snapshot of our late night viewings with the client.

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 footage daily 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, Mike and Jay filmed “B-Roll” around the site, James, our Pro drone operator, captured aerial shots, 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 and performing arts. 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 performances 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 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 back in to create a seamless transition in the edit. 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 and signs. They shot on the Sony 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 site.

Team C – James is our 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 all 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. 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 many years but live streaming from a tent in the middle of a field is a new exciting challenge. Luckily, we had Phil from EtherLive on site who provided us with a dedicated internet line that gave us a strong connection to the outside world.

Once we knew we could have a stable internet connection we could then start planning our technical setup. As we do a lot of live streaming we have built our own bespoke rack of vision mixing and live streaming kit. It is our Compact Live system, or as we like to call him, CLive. CLive, has a vision mixing desk to cut between cameras and video playback, a system of talkback comms 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 also 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 Connor 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,