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How to Create a Full Lecture Video from a Seminar

James Bacarro, Full-stack Marketer, Dubai

16 December 2017

Our company recently conducted a seminar and we took a full recording of the speakers’ presentations with the thought of posting them online so those who weren’t able to attend would still get to watch the lectures.

Here’s a quick guide to pull this off:

1. Video Recording

    • Use a camcorder instead of DSLR
      Camcorders are ideal for long recordings because standard DSLRs only have a 20-minute max capacity recording at a time if they did not overheat yet (of course there are higher-end DSLRs that can handle long recordings). The camera model we used was Sony Pxw-x70.


    • Record audio directly from the mixer
      It’s hard to rely on the camcorder’s audio. The sound is full of reverb and random noise from audience coughing, moving the chairs, talking to their seatmates, etc.
      We used a portable audio recorder – Zoom H5. And we connected it directly to the audio console of the hotel via XLR cable.Hear the difference..


    • Use a sturdy and fluid tripod
      Ideally, you would want to set up the camera at the far back of the hall – behind the audience. This is to avoid the camera setup being a nuance to the crowd – blocking their view of the presenter. If the camera is at the far end of the hall, you would normally need to zoom into the speaker on stage, and a lot of tripod panning movement will be needed to follow a speaker moving around the stage. It would be good to have a fluid-head type of tripod to prevent shaky footage when panning. This type of tripod is costly but really worth the investment.


    • Bring long extension power cables
      Camcorder batteries can’t last a very long time and if you have a whole day event, you would need to power plug your camcorder to avoid recording interruptions. Many times, power outlets are not readily available nearby your good spot to take the video, hence the need to bring long power cables. Do bring some duct tapes to secure the cables and prevent people from tripping over the wiring.


Now moving to the post-production part..

2. Export the Powerpoint Presentations

Instead of simply recording the speaker plus the entire slideshow on the projector screen, it’s way better to have the actual slideshow presentations embedded in the final video. Clarity of the actual visuals vs. the slideshow on the projected screen is a no-brainer.

You can export the presentations as an image (jpg, png) or as an mp4 video. Pay attention the size of your export. My final video output is 1920x1080 px (full HD) but the default export resolution of the slideshow is not enough. I had to change the export resolution manually.


3. Edit the video

What I did was divide the video into 2 parts. About 30% of the screen shows the speaker, then roughly 70% is occupied by the slideshow.
Why have a person on the side? Us humans naturally respond better when there’s another human on the video. Would you rather watch just the text and graphics in the slideshow?

The first thing I did was match the audio track of the camera and the track of the audio recorder. This is easy in adobe premiere, just select the 2 tracks then, right click > synchronize. 

That’s gonna take a few minutes, depending on the length of the tracks and the computing speed of your computer.

The next 2 steps were the bloody parts and super time-consuming.


Matching the slideshows

Once the slides have been imported, next step is to synchronize the “real” slides as per whenever the speaker moves to each slide on his video. I’m sure there are other technologies out there which I haven’t explored yet – if you know some, do let me know and write them in the comments section below.


Tracking the speaker’s position

I won’t tackle the details of this, but what I had to do was change the position of the camcorder video (adding keyframes) to keep the speakers centered on the 30% of the frame.


One option for you to save time in editing is to have a dedicated camera person that will follow and keep the speaker dead center in the camera 100% of the time. When we had our event, the assigned staff as the cameraman wasn’t fully dedicated to the role as he had to also do some stuff – and what happened was that at some parts of the lecture, the speaker was outside the camera frame as he was moving a lot. This meant that I had to make some extra video edits to hide the flaw of the missing speaker.

This took me about 1-2 hours (depending on how much movement across the stage the speaker is doing and how long the video is).

After editing, I’ve exported the video then uploaded on Youtube.


Lessons Learned

If you check some of my final output video, the audio is cracking. This was mainly because I couldn’t control the audio output of the sound mixer (the technical operator could not help much). After some google search, I realized I have to have this add-on in cases like this:

Make sure that you have a dedicated camera person and provide him/her instructions that he/she needs to keep the subject at the center all the time. This saves you a few hours of editing time.

Lastly, one improvement would be to have the ability to control the speakers’ laptop remotely. The typical setup when having an event in a hotel hall is that the computer used during the presentation is situated on the lectern where the speaker can easily see their slides – not having to always check the big screen behind them. An alternative would be setting up a separate screen facing the speakers.

During our event, I had to climb up the podium to swap presentations in between lectures. This could also be avoided if you line up all the presentations in a single slideshow file. However, in typical cases, speakers would have last minute changes to their slides.


I hope this quick guide helps you on your future events. These were the best practices we’ve pulled off with the available resources we had. Do let me know if you have questions or suggestions.