Posts Tagged ‘on location’

Why Clients Should Be On-Set During a Video Production

Monday, June 20th, 2011

MonitorIn my years as a video director, I have worked with clients who want to be on set to monitor and supervise the shoot. I have also worked with clients who prefer not to be on location. They take a more hands-off approach. I certainly appreciate the level of trust I earn with my clients, because that trust gives them a good measure of comfort. They can feel confident when they turn the video production over to me. However, there are definite benefits to having the client on set throughout the production process.

  1. Familiarity – If the client has been the only person to interact with the on-camera talent up to the point of production, having the client on set will give the talent a familiar person with whom he/she has already made a connection. And when the talent sees someone familiar, this will make him/her more comfortable. And when the talent is comfortable, he/she will be more natural on camera. This is especially true when working with non-professional talent.
  2. Plan B – Let’s be honest. Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned during a video shoot, and the director needs to be prepared. When the on-camera interview just isn’t going well, or when certain set-ups are cut from the shot list due to last-minute changes to the location, it’s good to have the client on location. The client can stay up to speed on everything that’s happening and offer up suggestions to the director as to what needs to happen next. After all, the video director is working for the client. The two parties can put their heads together to come up with a viable Plan B when the shoot starts to fall short of pre-production expectations.
  3. Instant Feedback – When the director yells “cut,” he/she can immediately check with the client to ensure that everything being captured meets with the client’s approval. If the individual being interviewed needs to answer in a slightly different way to clarify the context of the subject, then the client can say so. If there’s another question or two that the director didn’t think about, the client can step in and ask it. If there’s a tiny detail that shouldn’t be in the script, the client can omit it before the on-camera spokesperson continues. The video production company may take the lead in developing a concept for the project, but it’s the client that has a more in-depth knowledge of the company, the brand, the product/service, and all the little things that can make a big difference.

Video directors never need to shy away from the thought of having the client on set. The two parties compliment each other and work in tandem toward one common goal.

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The Value of a DIT in Today’s Digital Workflow

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Composite image of flash memory cards, showing...

Image via Wikipedia

File-based work flows in video production have presented an incredible amount of benefits to the overall production process, but they have also demanded that video producers/directors reshape the way they move from production into post-production, and finally, to delivery. One of the key members of a tapeless video crew is the DIT, or Digital Imaging Technician. This individual, depending on the size of the shoot, is responsible for many things, but in my opinion, the most important function of the DIT is managing all of the assets while on location. This means taking the memory cards from the DP or camera assistant and transferring them over to hard drives. Once on the hard drives, a DIT will usually back up those files to a redundant drive and ensure that everything transferred correctly before re-formatting the cards for use again on the set. In addition, a DIT will prep each file for use in post-production and will prepare dailies for the director and the client to review.
For projects with smaller budgets, it may be tempting to forego the services of a DIT and simply let the director, DP, or a production assistant handle the duties of a DIT. Although this approach works, consider the side effects of this approach:

  • Using the director and/or DP to handle this job could slow down the pace of the shoot considerably. Once the cards are full, the director or DP must stop work, start transferring footage, wait for that footage to be transferred, confirm the transfer, reformat the cards, then return to the set. A DIT can handle all of this while the director and/or DP continue their work of shooting, setting up for the next shot, or working with the client and/or talent. This maintains a good work flow throughout the day and ensures that everything stays on schedule.
  • Using a production assistant as a DIT means assigning a less experienced person to do the job. An experienced DIT knows the equipment, knows exactly what he/she is doing, and can properly communicate with the director/DP.

So, even for those shoots that have smaller crews, a good DIT is a valuable asset to the team. However, with the ever-increasing capacity of memory cards, and the ever-decreasing cost of those memory cards, it will become easier for small ENG crews to spend an entire day shooting to memory cards, without ever having the need to transfer and reformat. All of the cards can simply be stored until the end of the day, then transferred at night, and used again the following day. But if the production turn-around is extremely tight, it may be in the producer’s best interest to hire a DIT and allow him/her to transfer all the footage during the course of the day, start prepping for post, and begin work on a rough edit. This will save a lot of time and will allow the producer to get the final video out to the client much quicker.

Ultimately, the use of the DIT depends on the situation, but don’t underestimate the value of that position in the ever-increasing world of tapeless video production.

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One Way to Avoid Costly Re-shoots

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

IMG_5641BI understand that with almost every video production, the client and producer must strike a balance between scheduling enough time for adequate coverage while staying within budget. Although consolidating certain aspects of the production (i.e. the number of locations, the number of people appearing on camera, etc.) can help improve efficiency, taking it to an extreme can compromise the final video.

The video production companies that I know of (including ours) offer half-day (usually up to five hours) and full-day (up to 10 hours) rates. The production budget can be reduced by blocking off one half-day rather than one full day to shoot everything on the shot list, but dong so isn’t always the most prudent approach. The shot list may look rather short when reading it on paper, but in actuality can take much longer to complete.

Often when shooting corporate videos, it will become necessary to feature certain company representatives in the video. They may have a prepared script that they plan to deliver directly into camera. On paper, this looks simple: off-load the gear, set up, light, rehearse, and shoot. Let’s say you have four to six different people who must read from a prepared script, then shoot b-roll. It can be tempting to schedule a single, half-day for this shoot, but it’s important to consider a few things:

  1. Down Time - Since the on-camera talent is not professional, but rather, actual employees of the company, there may be times when they can’t make it to the location on time. Other things might pop up at the last minute that they are forced to deal with. This means you might be set up, ready to shoot, but have to wait until the company rep is available.
  2. Multiple Takes - Even professional actors need a few takes to get the delivery just right. This is especially true with non-professional talent. As mentioned in item #1, company employees have important day-to-day duties. It can be difficult for them to take the time to memorize the script. Don’t assume that they will have everything down before walking in front of the camera. They might need a few extra takes, and even some extra breaks if something comes up that they must tend to.
  3. Revisions – Sometimes the words of a script may not sound as eloquent as you thought they would when the talent starts reading it aloud. Or, certain facts and/or claims within the script may be inaccurate. In either situation, rewrites will probably be necessary, and that means additional time tacked on to your shooting day.

That single, half-day can quickly be used up, leaving you precious little time to capture everything else on the shot list. And once you start rushing through production, the overall quality of the footage will suffer. It would be wise to carefully consider the above points and go ahead and budget for a full-day, even when you think you can squeeze everything into a half-day. Better to prepare for the full day rather than be faced with costly re-shoots, or a video that doesn’t live up to your standards.

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How to Capture Great Sound Bites For Your Video

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

IMG_2063Every video producer and every client wants to capture that perfect sound bite from an interview subject; a comment that perfectly encapsulates the main idea that the video is trying to communicate. However, reaching that goal depends a great deal on the rapport a video producer can build between himself/herself and the subject, and the way in which he/she conducts the interview. Here are a few tips on how to conduct better on-camera interviews:


If you have the time and/or the budget, you might want to conduct pre-interviews with all of the individuals you plan to interview for your video. Conducting a pre-interview is valuable for a number of reasons:

  1. It establishes a good working relationship with yourself and the subject.
  2. It’s less intimidating. It gives the subject a “dress rehearsal” before he/she has to go in front of the camera. Remember, the more comfortable the subject feels, the more confident he/she will be when sitting under the lights.
  3. It helps you gain insights into the subject matter. Sometimes you can uncover new and valuable information during these pre-interviews; information you hadn’t thought of previously. These new insights can help you as you revise your script.


On the day of the interview, don’t just throw the subject under the lights and start rolling. Take them aside and talk with them, casually and informally. You can go over last-minute details about the topics you will cover, you can show them the gear that will be used on set, or you can talk about completely unrelated topics. Again, you want the subject to feel comfortable. When the interview finally does begin, start off with a few very easy questions so the subject can get used to the feeling of being on camera.

Open-Ended Questions

Remember, you want your subject to do all the talking, so refrain from “yes” or “no” questions. This leaves no room for expansion on particular lines of thought. It’s okay to ask leading questions, if you want the subject to really emphasize a particular topic, but let him/her phrase the response in his/her own words.

Frequent Breaks

Some people you interview will be seasoned pros; others will be completely new to the whole process of being on camera. Regardless, always make sure that the subject is comfortable. Every few minutes ask if they would like to take a break. Offer them something to drink. Most interview sessions that I have conducted last at least twenty minutes, so you want to be considerate.

Re-state, Rephrase, Repeat

As the subject responds to a particular question, he/she might continue talking non-stop for a good three minutes or so. And within that lengthy answer, the subject may have a few good nuggets of information, but it will be difficult for your editor to mine a short, cohesive sound bite from that amount of information. If that’s the case, allow the subject to finish his/her answer, then ask him/her to go back and repeat some of those key comments in a more concise manner.

Go With the Flow

It’s important to have your interview questions organized according to particular topics before you start. This way, you can keep your subject on a particular train of thought. It can be confusing for the subject (who isn’t looking at a script or a list of questions) to jump around from subject to subject. You will get more thoughtful responses if you pursue a particular line of thought until the topic is exhausted.

Alter the Script

Be open to new topics as you conduct the interview. Sometimes an answer can trigger a new question. Ask it. Sometimes you might want the subject to expound on a particular answer, so ask him/her to elaborate. Give yourself the freedom to explore new ideas and thoughts that weren’t previously scripted. You might come out of the interview with some great material. And always, before concluding the interview, ask the subject if he/she would like to add anything else, or cover anything that wasn’t previously asked.

Conducting on-camera interviews for your video project takes a certain level of skill, but by following these guidelines you will uncover some great sound bites that will really compliment your video well.

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Pictures From Our Recent Video Shoot

Friday, March 11th, 2011

We were hired by an out-of-state production company to provide video production services for a one-day shoot in Hamilton, AL. Yesterday, we sent a DP and an audio tech up to Hamilton to a remote area of timber land. We shot b-roll and stand-up interviews for a piece highlighting a Memphis-based paper company and their ongoing attention to environmental and sustainability issues.

Red Fox Media - Birmingham, AL - Hamilton Video Shoot 02

Red Fox Media - Birmingham, AL - Hamilton Video Shoot 01

photo 2Red Fox Media - Birmingham, AL - Hamilton Video Shoot 04

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