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Case Study: The Story of Christmas Appeal 2021

Live event video shoot

St George’s, Hanover Square, London

December 2021


We produced an 85-minute film of The Story of Christmas Appeal event 2021; a nine lessons and carols charity event in a large, central London church. The event involved A-list celebrity readers, military brass band, The Chapel Royal Choir, the Bishop of London, and a congregation of corporate guests. The programme enabled the event to reach three to four times as many people as they would in a normal year with the venue audience only.


In 2020, on account of covid, The Story of Christmas Appeal were unable to hold their annual fund-raiser as a live event for the first time in over 40 years. In 2021 with the restrictions of the pandemic easing but not over, it was a massive decision to go ahead with a live event once more, particularly as planning takes place months in advance.


We were contracted to film the service, to increase audience reach beyond the number of seats available in the venue, and for the archive, but also to ensure that the Appeal fund-raising could still go ahead online, if public attendance had to be cancelled. Thankfully, in the end, the event was able to go ahead. We received hugely positive comments for our work from a satisfied client, a short study of which we’d like to share..



The Connection

Our initial contact with the client was made on the day we worked with him for the very first time, in a different venue and on a completely different project. He wrote the following after that recording:


“Wearing another hat, I organise a charity event called The Story of Christmas each year. It takes place at St George’s Hanover Square in the form of a carol service with celebrity readers. Last year we had to move the event online. This year we are planning on organising a live event, however we are keen to film this and then release it online shortly afterwards. Filming it live could be rather complicated so we are keen to work with someone very experienced. I wonder if this sort of project might be something we could talk further about?”


The Challenges

The ‘complications’ the client alluded to included the following:


  • Ensuring that the live event is captured reliably, in its entirety, and at broadcast quality, with no opportunity for retakes.

  • No full rehearsal of the event and no rehearsal, camera or sound checks with any of the celebrity readers or clergy; just a short rehearsal on the afternoon of the event with band and choir.

  • Setting up an extensive rig in a short time frame within a large London church, open to the public.

  • Professional lighting, live video relay and live sound suppliers would also need to install their equipment and position their operators alongside our operation.

  • Every available seat would be sold and so the positioning of sound and camera equipment would need to impinge on as few seats as possible.

  • Equipment and operators would need to be unobtrusive within a black-tie event which is also a religious service.

  • The need to achieve broadcast quality sound and video coverage of the event, including a soloist and organ at one end of the building, choir at the opposite end, a brass band tucked in a tiny space half way down, and readers appearing in three separate positions.

  • Turn the whole project round from live-event shoot to online transmission of the edited and mixed programme within 72 hours.


The Planning

Rigorous preparation is key to ensure secure capture of a one-off live event with limited rehearsal and no retakes. We made two site visits to the venue. We obtained architectural drawings of the building, took measurements of all relevant distances and heights, negotiated and agreed camera and microphone positions, cable runs, vehicle access and control room space. We also liaised with the client’s lighting, live sound and live visual suppliers to ensure integration all of our operations.



The Solutions

We decided that the sound from celebrity readers would be captured with discrete, stand-based microphones, rather than fitting each of them with personal radio mics. The readers were to assemble in advance of the event for a short social event and briefing, but in a separate building across the street. Therefore, fitting radio mics to ten or so celebrities (and their removal after the event when the readers may or may not return to the same place) would be difficult, if not impossible. Given the covid risks at the time it was also our aim to minimise close contact between our crew and the readers. As it turned out the event was filmed just as the Omicron covid variant reached the UK, making it all the more sensible a decision. We located our cameras and most of our sound equipment in just four compact positions within the church, ensuring they were visually unobtrusive for the live audience, and took out very few seats. We established a sound control room in the crypt, from which we mixed the event. With our entire sound recording rig running on a Dante network, this meant running only a single small diameter CAT 6 cable (rather than chunky multicore cables) from the crypt, up into and around the church to carry 24 channels of digital audio.


Successful Outcome

The result was a smooth get-in and set up the day before the event, problem free production on the day, with the final edited video going online via the client’s YouTube channel within 72 hours of the live event, resulting in an increase in reach for the event of three to four times the audience on the night.


The Response

In an email following the event the client thanked us for being:

“So professional, skillful and kind”


When we delivered the first proof of the finished programme, Marc Corbett-Weaver, the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of The Story of Christmas Appeal wrote:


“Thanks so much!! This is fantastic…we’ll add a link on the home page of our website and prepare an e-newsletter to announce! Thanks so much to all of you for this wonderful video!”



The response when the film was ready to go live on YouTube was similarly full of praise for the high quality output and the low stress experience:


“It has been a great pleasure working with you all on The Story of Christmas - the video looks fantastic.

We are very grateful for your help with this - so delighted and relieved we managed to do so well in such a difficult year. We’re at £650,000 raised for the charity now, and counting!”


Live event audio and video production. How can we help you?

If you’d like to talk to us about your live event and how we can deliver these excellent results for you, complete the short contact form at the bottom of our homepage at www.bmp-recording.co.uk


If you’d like to watch the final video from the event, send us an email at info@bmp-recording.co.uk and we’ll gladly send you a link.

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