Pre-recording video segments can be a powerful livestream technique. In this article, we’ll tackle the pros and cons of this approach.
Before deciding, consider how pre-recorded content would work in your case. There are content and technical considerations for projects of any scope.
Gradient’s live video experience can help you create a successful hybrid event. Please contact us for further information on our live production services and capabilities.
Some events require highly specific messaging. Pre-recorded video segments are most useful when extra control is needed. In these cases, you afford more time and flexibility to nail highly choreographed segments or speeches. The messaging can be further refined through post-production, where communication errors can be removed or complex animations added.
Something that often necessitates pre-recorded video is scheduling and location conflicts. Certain projects may require input from presenters in other countries and different time zones, which can complicate scheduling a single live show. In these cases, pre-recorded segments allow everyone to participate regardless of location.
On the other hand, livestream presentations are innately appealing because of their spontaneity. Scripted, pre-recorded segments lose excitement, charm, and personality afforded through live video. When your content is highly scripted, you risk a robotic performance from non-trained actors. This removes random idiosyncrasies in presenter personalities that make a speech more engaging. Presenters also lose the ability to react to real-time information and action.
Cutting pre-recorded segments into a live show raises concerns about "continuity." In video production, “continuity” is the concept that each shot should be matching and unified to feel as though they are taking place in the same space at the same time. Discrepancies between two shots represents an error in continuity and breaks the viewer's immersion.
If a segment is presented "as-live," meaning you're pretending it wasn't pre-recorded, you’ll have to take steps to ensure consistent common elements between segments. If you have any sudden changes in your production before you go live, like your speaker getting a haircut, your audience will catch this. The risk here is that these small continuity errors can damage your presentation's authenticity and your viewers' trust.
When Gradient produced JAB’s 2-day virtual investor conference, we were tasked with bringing together presenters worldwide during a single live event. In this situation, a pre-recorded segment was a perfect solution.
One notable example is a segment we produced with JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Despite this production's broadcast control room and studio being in London, our talent was filmed in New York City in advance. This allowed us to accommodate his schedule without needing to fly him to London. The audience was informed in this example that this segment was "pre-recorded." So continuity didn't have to be strictly adhered to. In this scenario, to match the caliber of the talent, we upgraded the cameras to be more cinema focused.
In contrast, a segment we shot featuring Panera was presented "as-live." Our production personnel had to be especially conscious of all continuity elements, including camera types, lighting angles, and talent clothing. All of it had to be the same. The attention to detail described here allowed us to maintain the audience's suspension of disbelief and produce a seamless, integrated segment into the overall live conference.
Best Practices for Pre-Records
Create a detailed script for the segment and ensure the presenter is well-rehearsed. Work with your presenter to refine their delivery, timing, and hand gestures.
Ensure your talent is clear on whether the segment will be presented as-live to the audience. Remember the continuity between your live portions and pre-recorded video if you are shooting an as-live presentation. Use the same camera and audio equipment you’ll use during the live show so both will have similar production quality. If your presenter is doing multiple pre-recorded segments or featured during both live and pre-recorded segments, take note of their appearance for each part. They must wear the same outfit, have identical style and length hair, and have any other noticeable changes covered.
Have your Technical Director rehearse the transitions between live segments and pre-recorded videos to maintain a smooth flow. Use transition techniques such as fade-ins, fade-outs, or visual overlays to blend live and recorded segments.
Have a backup plan. If something goes wrong with your pre-recorded video during your livestream, be prepared with content to fill the time and address the content of the video. While you don’t want to rely on backups, it’s always the right decision to prepare for the worst.
Reach Out to Gradient About Live Events
With Gradient’s experience and knowledge in live video production, we can help you decide whether live video is right for your event and partner with you to create a memorable, professional livestream experience. Regardless of your content needs, Gradient delivers high-quality, memorable live events, whether fully live or with integrated pre-records.