Four Ways To Prepare For Your Video Production Shoot
A couple of months ago I had thrown out some general questions in regards to topics surrounding video production, and video marketing. A marketing colleague of mine from Rhode Island had inquired about the best practices to prepare a team to undertake a video project. So, without further ado, here we are! These preparations could be applied to either in-house filming, or hiring an outside firm, so it makes no difference. Of course, this is not the definitive list, and each scenario might call for alternative preparations, but it’s important to lay a solid foundation of prep work before your company moves into a filming day.
1: Establish A Point Person For Project Management
When we have “too many cooks” in one kitchen, it’s easy for things to get out of control as we zip around one another trying to make the same dinner.
So diving in, the first thing you, as a company, want to establish is your Point Person. As an outside firm, or even as a team member, it’s so important to have one voice channeling all the lines of communication, and filtering logistics, creative, as well as constructive feedback. This isn’t to say we cannot have multiple voices applying input, but those voices just need to be channeled not to bombard your video team so we may avoid miscommunication, and conflicting information with numerous email chains flying around. When we have “too many cooks” in one kitchen, it’s easy for things to get out of control as we zip around one another trying to make the same dinner. We want to make sure we avoid this type of scenario to the best of our ability. One voice can give us clarity, purpose, and optimization we need to capitalize on our collective goals.
At Capion we encourage the Project Manager to conduct the interviews if the talent are comfortable with the individual.
2: The Best Logistical Practices
Once we have determined our point person, we need to start figuring the logistics of the video project. There’s a whole laundry list of things to consider when mapping out our logistical hurdles. Creative, scope, 3rd parties, timing, locations, talent, etc. the list really goes on, and on. The biggest thing we need to do is stand back and ask who, what, when, and where. This might come as no surprise, appearing as an over simplification of the process, but we can equally become overwhelmed if we overcomplicate the production. At a project’s core, arguably the most important factor is nailing down our talent, and crew scheduling. It goes without saying that you need to line up all of your release forms, prior to, or during the day of the shoot, especially if this includes HIPAA related patient testimonials.
The component with the most moving parts usually takes the lead.
Once we have our talent, and crew locked on a day, and time, we will need to determine, and acquire our locations. Mind you, unless the location has some sort of major impact on the narrative structure of our video, this logistical component should come with a certain level of flexibility. I’d put precedence on your talent and crew, over shifting priorities to a location’s accessibility. As a rule of thumb, people’s time, and scheduling far outweighs the merits of a physical location. If we have several scenes occurring across multiple geographical locations, it's likely a best practice to schedule these in accordance to travel distance. One day may be entirely devoted to capturing material in Fall River Massachusetts for all of our interviews, and then the next day we bounce over to New Bedford Massachusetts to attain all of our activity B-Roll in the field. So when it comes to location scheduling, keep this in mind when your back is up against a wall having to choose between one, or the other. The component with the most moving parts usually takes the lead.
There are many elements to consider when scheduling on location including time & weather.
Logistical planning also calls for a deep understanding of what we are shooting, and how long each scene will take to capture. This can vary wildly from shooter to shooter, or production team. Clear, effective, and detailed communications must occur between the Point Person, and the video Director / Producer. What might take one shooter ten minutes to capture content, might take a team a whole hour depending on location, workflows, setup, shooting ratios, interviewing practices etc. It’s good to have a conversation with a video Director / Producer as to the average amount of time spent per interview, or scene.
Being a lightweight, nimble crew can help move along the process from scene to scene.
Once you’ve landed on a certain allotted amount of time, make sure to pad that time by at least 20% to ensure a smooth transition from scene to scene. For instance if a Director / Producer tells you it will take them approximately sixty minutes to setup, twenty five minutes to conduct a single interview, and approximately thirty minutes to break down their gear, I’d suggest taking the cumulative of those minutes, and pad that time by 20%. In this instance, that would translate to an extra twenty three minutes, with a total allotted time of one hundred thirty eight minutes (138) or roughly two, and a half hours. Why pad this time you say? Simple; no matter how effective we may be at our jobs, we are after all only human.
What can happen, will happen, and despite wanting to run a tight ship, or cut corners with scheduling, these things never play out perfectly.
I can't tell you how many times “Murphy’s Law” has reared it’s ugly head on a shoot, whether it be on behalf of talent, crew, clients, location, or even a technical hurdle. What can happen, will happen, and despite wanting to run a tight ship, or cut corners with scheduling, these things never play out perfectly. Cutting yourself some slack by padding your schedule will save yourself the aggravation of running around like a mad person. Setting realistic expectations is the name of the game, and having a stress free environment is the key to having a great video production. Besides, if you end up throwing away that padded time, everyone looks good being “ahead of schedule”.
3: Come Prepared, But Remain Open Minded
Come prepared! If the video production is documentary in nature like many corporate videos are, make sure to have your list of questions for each talent prepared ahead of time. Make sure to compile a list of questions to push, and pull your talent in certain directions that is relative to the narrative arc you are trying to create per your creative brief. Allow some flexibility in your questioning to be a little on the broader side to promote your talent to take the topics in areas you might have not previously contemplated. This is what we in the business call; “taking liberties”.
Believe me when I say that energy translates on camera, but usually they only glow when it’s a topic that the talent has an emotional connection to.
Sometimes our talent can say things that are pure gold that can be used in the edit, but only if the questioning has some wiggle room for the talent to take off, and run with their answers. Be too specific, and you might box your talent into a question corner that comes off dry, rehearsed, run-on, or otherwise falls flat on it’s face. Having questions in hand as a baseline can assist you in your interview process, but don’t be afraid to create new questions on the spot, or have your talent elaborate on a topic that they appear impassioned about. Believe me when I say that energy translates on camera, but usually they only glow when it’s a topic that the talent has an emotional connection to. It’s your duty as an interviewer to extract that passion, and create an inviting, and trusting environment for your talent to let their guard down. It disservices everyone when the words from your talent come across, forced, scripted, monotone, or robotic. The goal is to be as fluid and organic as possible, as if the two of you are having a casual conversation. That requires you as an interviewer to read your talent, and switchgears on a moments notice.
Energy translates on camera, so make sure to get your talent in a comfortable zone.
4: Overshooting Content & Long-Term Budgetary Consideration
Overshoot your interviews & B-Roll… I can’t emphasize this enough! I’m not talking about creating high shooting ratios, but taking the opportunity to shoot as much diverse content as you can in a given scheduling day. This is especially important in the grand scheme of things if you are on a tighter budget. I know this sounds backwards… stay with me here. While every production crew is different, it would be in your best interest to schedule a full day of shooting if logistically possible. When booking a video production crew, the industry standard is traditionally half day, and full day. Utilizing a video team for a full day to over capture content with a bit of foresight, can help you logistically, and financially if you line everything up ahead of time.
When you choose to recycle this material, we run the risk of our audience / consumers disregarding this new product as something they’ve already seen.
When production crews are filming, we can have high shooting ratios, which means we are capturing tons of variant shots of the same subject matter, activity, or location, but at the end of the day, it’s still all relatively the same content. In the edit, we can burn though this material very quickly, and suddenly all of the B-Roll action shots seem to appear repetitive in nature. This is only amplified further when you seek to build additional videos of separate subject matters for a later date. When you choose to recycle this material, we run the risk of our audience / consumers disregarding this new product as something they’ve already seen. So this is why it’s important to contemplate these scenarios, even if your budget does not allow for the creation of additional edited videos upfront. You might want to capture content for future projects if possible. When you have all of your talent on hand, access to a handful of locations, or activities / events occurring at your facility, its crucial to capture as much as you can, while you can, because you do not know if the opportunity will present itself again.
Where you think you might be cutting corners in your budget, your frugal choices may actually be costing you in the long run in more ways than one!
Let’s create a mock scenario to take a closer look at what I mean. Perhaps you intend on scheduling a video crew to come in, and shoot for a full day of interviewing / B-roll gathering. You plan out your schedule, and it only takes you six hours to shoot what’s directly correlating to the project at hand. You’re likely still on the hook for the full day rate, so you might want to make the most of it, and content gather for the next two hours. Alternatively, if you were to forfeit those two hours, a month later you might end up calling the same crew to come in, and now shoot two hours worth of new content that you could of otherwise originally gathered. To make matters worse, you’re now booking for a half-day rate, only utilizing two hours, and losing out on a collective four hours between both shooting dates. Compounding on this, all of your time spent coordinating communications, and logistics are being added to the figurative budget pool, as the age old saying goes “time is money”. Where you think you might be cutting corners in your budget, your frugal choices may actually be costing you in the long run in more ways than one!
This is why it’s so important to think ahead, have some foresight, and overshoot your content whenever possible. These materials could theoretically create multiple video products, but only if the content is diverse enough in nature. Given the choice between spending a significant amount of time producing high shooting ratios on a single setup, or producing diverse content reflecting multiple actions, locations, people, places, or things, personally I’d choose the latter. With high shooting ratios of the same content, you’ll likely only use one, or two of those shots from each location in a given video product. The diverse content however, can be spread across multiple instances, furthering your budget, and establishing a library of video content to be leveraged for a later date.
Conclusion & Recap:
So like I stated at the onset of this article, this certainly is not the definitive list, but should get you thinking differently in preparation to your video shoot. Each shoot is different, and should be treated as such, but as you plan these projects more often, you’ll start to figure out what works best for your company’s workflow. Recapping today’s article here are the takeaways...
· Establish a Point Person for Project Management.
· One voice to channel communication, logistics, creative, and constructive feedback. Avoid “too many cooks” .
· Establish who, what, when, and where.
· Have all of your talent, and location release forms signed on, or before the day of shooting.
· Talent scheduling usually takes precedence over location availability. Find the balance, and what matters most.
· Communicate with the Director / Producer as to how long each setup will take to establish, shoot and breakdown.
· Pad your schedule by 20% of the projected shoot to allow for smooth transitional filming.
· Create pointed questions, but avoid specificity to promote fluid conversations.
· Be on your toes to add new questions on the fly or read your talent to have them follow up about subject matters they are impassioned about.
· Overshoot your interview content and B-Roll action shots. Have the foresight to see the bigger picture later down the road.
· Optimize your scheduling to take full advantage of a full day’s shoot even if you do not intend use the material right away.
· Choose diversity in content over spending more time with higher shooting ratios. This will allow you to further your product creation.
It's always a great day to capture your story with video marketing!
Have a project where you need to build a multi-tiered video advert campaign? Consider Capion Studio for your next project and let our new age approaches help you leverage and capitalize on your target audience. Feel free to contact us today to discuss your next project!