Posts Tagged ‘b-roll’
Monday, October 22nd, 2012
When trying to produce a short film in only 48 hours, or complete a video project with a tight deadline, you learn certain things about how to work more efficiently. When every shot has to count and there’s absolutely no time to waste, you have to know how to stay on task and how to keep everything focused.
We recently participated in the Sidewalk Scramble, a competition in which participants only have 48 hours to make a short film. Over the years, we’ve been involved in a few of these Scramble events, and we have also worked with clients who have very tight deadlines. In both scenarios, we have learned valuable lessons about how to produce a quality video project, even with certain time constraints.
- When brainstorming, there are no bad ideas. For the Scramble, our team received a genre and a prop. After the initial meeting, the Scramble organizers turned us loose to begin work on the film. We began to brainstorm ideas for the story. When you are faced with a tight deadline for your video project, remember that in the beginning stages, no one’s idea should be censored. Give everyone an opportunity to be heard. Consider every idea that is put forward.
- When shooting, keep your locations to a minimum. If you’re up against a tight deadline, the last thing you need to do is waste time driving from one location to another. Understanding our constraints in both production time (48 hours) and the running time of the final film (4 minutes), our Scramble team shot in only one location. It helped us move from scene to scene quickly, with minimal set up time.
- When you start the day, assign someone to slate every shot and maintain a log. This is extremely valuable when you get into post-production. It will speed up the editing process tremendously. Rather than wasting time sorting through all the raw footage, re-watching each take, you can quickly consult the shot log and know immediately which shot you liked the best.
- When working with on-camera talent, shoot dialogue scenes first. In our experience, shooting scenes with dialogue takes the most amount of time. Those who will be on camera need time to memorize, rehearse and block. The timing needs to be nailed down. The video production company needs time to cover the scene from various angles. And there will always be multiple takes (actors will stumble over lines, forget lines, or deliver the lines in a manner that isn’t quite right).
- When selecting camera angles, shoot establishing shots first. Once you have covered the scene with your establishing shots, then you can move in for pick-ups. It won’t do your film/video project any good if you have a ton of close-ups and pick-ups without any establishing shots to frame the context of the scene. You will quickly discover that you don’t have enough footage to tell the story adequately.
- When b-roll is needed, delegate to a 2nd unit. In our Scramble film, we knew that we would need some POV shots of our main character. However, it would be a waste of time to have the actors and crew wait while the director ran off with a camera to shoot this footage. So, while the director continued to work with the actors on scenes that were most important, the b-roll was captured by utilizing a second cameraman with a second camera. This can save an enormous amount of time when working on a video project with a tight deadline. Imagine that you have to shoot interviews with administrators of a manufacturing facility, plus shoot b-roll of the factory floor. Now imagine that you have to shoot all of this in only half a day. You can assign the b-roll to one cinematographer, while the other captures all of the interviews.
You don’t have to sacrifice the quality of your video, just because it needs to be done quickly. By attacking the problem realistically, shooting to your resources, and being smart about how you approach the job, you can come out on the other side with a video you can be proud to show. However, we can’t guarantee that you will get much sleep during the process, but the assigned project will be completed.
Tuesday, December 27th, 2011
A few years ago I came across this mock infomercial called “We Got That B-roll.” Anyone who works in video production, or who is familiar with the industry, will find the video humorous. It takes aim at the generic, overused, and sometimes unoriginal b-roll clips that fill up so many documentaries, commercials, and news stories. B-roll is an extremely important part of telling a story on film or video.
- It provides the viewer with context.
- It helps to explain concepts and ideas.
- It offers up visual variety.
- It holds an audience’s interest.
Despite its importance to the production, it’s amazing to me how so many people are willing to rush through the process of capturing b-roll. Shooting b-roll can’t become an afterthought. It needs to be an integral part of the shooting day. Here are a few things that need to happen to ensure that you capture great b-roll for your next project.
- Work it into the schedule. Give yourself and your production crew enough time in the day to set up, light, and shoot b-roll. The last thing you want is to rush around during the last hour of the day, trying to cross all the items off of your shot list. And that leads me into my next point…
- Create a shot list for your b-roll. Don’t wait until you get to the location to try and figure out exactly what you want to shoot for your b-roll. You will end up with a lot of footage that just won’t fit into your story. And that leads me into my final point…
- Make your b-roll relevant. Don’t just shoot the building because you think the architecture looks cool. B-roll should compliment and enhance the subject of your story. It should relate to what’s being said, either by those on camera, or the narrator.
B-roll can become a very stale and unoriginal aspect to a video, if not thought out properly. Or, it can be a visually striking element to the production and round out the story like nothing else. Its success or failure depends on how much attention to detail you give to the process during pre-production and production.
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
In our experience as video production professionals, we’ve learned that one of the biggest factors in budgeting for a particular job is time.
- How much time will be required to conceptualize and script a video project?
- How much time will we need in-studio or on location?
- How many shooting days will be required?
- How much time will we need to put the whole video together and deliver a final product?
Of course there are other factors to consider as well, including the cost of on-camera talent, additional crew, equipment, travel, etc. However, a video’s budget will grow exponentially when a client needs additional days for shooting, post-production, etc. The budget for a five-day shoot will look very different from a budget for a half-day shoot.
Most projects we work on require multiple camera set-ups, which require the movement of camera, lights, people, additional gear, etc. All of those set-ups mean that we can only capture a certain amount of footage per day. However, one way to increase the amount that can be shot in one day is to use a 2nd unit camera.
From a budgeting stand point, it may seem like an unnecessary expense to use two camera packages and two camera operators for one job. However, employing the use of a 2nd camera unit may actually reduce the cost of the video, because you are accomplishing more in less time.
This strategy is the most effective when there is a long, complicated shot list with several different locations and a small window of time. Rather than have one camera unit spend four days shooting everything, why not invest in a second camera unit and get all of your shots completed in two days? The first camera unit can spend time at your main location, conducting interviews with your staff and shooting b-roll of your operation, while the 2nd camera unit shoots b-roll of satellite offices, off site installs, and conducts interviews with clients. And if your video calls for an on-camera panel discussion with two or more individuals, you can use both cameras to cross-shoot the scene and omit the need to reset one camera for multiple angles. It can be a very efficient way to tackle your project.
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Coverage is so important when creating a promotional video for your business or non-profit. The word “coverage,” when used in the context of video production, refers to the amount of footage needed to adequately “cover” the scene. So, for example, if you are creating a sales video that describes how your company makes potato chips, you would want the video production company to shoot enough footage to properly communicate what happens at every stage of the process (i.e. Unloading supplies, moving those supplies into the facility, potatoes moving across conveyor belts, potatoes being sliced, etc.).
Neglecting to get adequate coverage during the video shoot means that you cannot properly tell the story when you get everything back to the edit suite. “Well then,” you might ask, “why would anyone neglect to get the coverage they need?”
Most often, in my experience, lack of coverage comes from a lack of time. And a lack of time can be caused by:
-a failure to properly schedule the shoot.
-a failure to stay on schedule due to various circumstances (talent and/or crew arriving late, problems with the location, problems with the gear, multiple takes of a scene that weren’t accounted for, last-second script changes, etc.).
-failure to budget for an adequate amount of crew members.
-failure to invest an amount of money proportional to the size and scope of the project.
The last two points become especially important when creating a promotional video in which the content is documentary in nature. In other words, projects in which everything is dictated by events as they unfold, not by the video producer/director. For some video production projects, you will be able to coordinate all of the action for the camera. You will be able to set up lights, block out the scene, and shoot multiple takes. For other videos, you might only get one chance to shoot the action as it happens.
For the latter situation, you need to make sure that you budget enough to ensure that you have the right amount of crew on location and the right amount of time to shoot everything. Otherwise, you might not get a second chance, and you might find yourself without enough coverage for your video. This is especially true of live events, like trade shows, conferences, seminars, etc. Don’t budget for one camera, when you might need two or three to cover the event. One camera can capture interviews, one camera can capture keynote speakers and breakout sessions, and a third camera can cover the trade show floor. Don’t budget for one-half day, when the conference lasts one or two full days.
The last thing anyone wants (you, your video production crew, your marketing director) is to get into the editing suite only to realize that you have a video full of interviews, but not enough b-roll to flesh out the story. Carefully budget your time and your money and you won’t regret it.