Conference Videos – My $0.02


Conference Videos -My $0.02

I have just had a look at a heap of videos from a variety of conferences.  They all make the (I think) mistake of assuming video of the presenter is in the least bit relevant.  If you can’t see the slides (by which I mean actually read everything on the slides – I’m looking at you absolutely tiny text shell prompts and text editors showing code) then, assuming the presenter is not using wild gesticulations which add meaning to their presentation, the video might as well be plain audio.  The value of video is to sync what the speaker is saying with the slides.  Seeing the presenter shuffle from side to side looking up and down occasionally (as charming as it might be) does not add anything to the presentation.  A 20MB download is better than a 200MB one if they’re otherwise equivalent modulo video of a shuffling speaker.  Often they get the worst of both worlds, zooming out to get both the speaker and the slides – and getting a poor representation of both of them.   Compare eg the Java is the Cobol of the 21st Century talk where the speaker is just a voice against just about any recording of a conference presentation where the speaker is visible.

There was one conference which did something which seemed pretty much perfect.  They recorded both the slides (ie – the video output to the projector went via a splitter to a recorder – it was not recorded visually from the screen) and the presenter.  The video of the presenter was the overlaid into a small box in the corner.  See this example, a v. interesting talk about dictionaries in Python which IMHO, and with due respect to the speaker, would not have been at all lessened if the speaker was not visible at all.  Compare to the video of this talk which shows only the speaker and no slides/screen (-  I am not intending to criticise the speaker here, only commenting on how much the video would have been improved if the screen was shown with the presentation audio).

You should avoid if possible recording the slides from the projection because the difference in contrast between both the black text and white background within the projection, but also the projection and the rest of the room exceeds the exposure latitude of video recorders – which is why results are usually poor.   This is particularly troublesome if you’re trying to capture both the speaker and the slides on a single frame.

At least one conference did exactly the opposite – putting the slides in a tiny, unreadable, box in the corner (?!).

So please, if you’re planning on videoing a conference and you only have one camera, don’t video the speaker, video the slides and record the speaker’s voice.   If you have two cameras, then overlay the speaker into a small box in a corner (or release two videos one of the slides with audio, one of the speaker).   Somewhere where they won’t obscure the slides.  Or do video of the speaker during their intro and during question time. Frankly though, I’d be surprised if video of the speaker adds anything.

4 Responses to “Conference Videos – My $0.02”


  1. 1 Bucky 20 August 2010 at 5:37 am

    The disconnect is that you have to believe two conflicting things at once. First, that the presenter is trying to impart knowledge. Second, that the presenter has no idea that the video of his presentation needs to impart knowledge.

    Had I never seen “It Should Happen To You” starring the immortal Judy Holliday, I’d be just as confused as you.

  2. 2 TK 24 August 2010 at 1:17 am

    Good info! We’re gearing up for next year’s Texas Linux Fest and need to keep this in mind if we decide to videotape it. Last time, we just got copies of the presentations and made them available along with the audio.


  1. 1 Linux News » Conference Videos – My $0.02 Trackback on 20 August 2010 at 3:25 am
  2. 2 Links 21/8/2010: Wine 1.3.1, Urbi Goes AGPLv3 | Techrights Trackback on 21 August 2010 at 5:13 pm

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