Posts Tagged ‘scheduling’

The Method Behind the Madness of Video Production

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Red Fox Media - Video Production - Birmingham, AL - Burdette Video Shoot 004A few months ago I was working on a video shoot for a client. As we moved our equipment inside and started setting up, my client said, “I had no idea this much was involved in producing a video.” This is a remark I often hear when producing videos. People will comment on the amount of gear we have to carry around with us and at the amount of time it takes to set up and shoot each scene. They talk about our attention to detail when it comes to lighting and blocking camera movements. They marvel at how much footage we shoot just for a thirty-second TV commercial or a three-minute corporate video. Producing high-quality videos is something we take great pride in, but it’s also something that demands a lot of our time and resources.

Even before we roll onto the location for the first day of shooting, our work has been going on, behind the scenes, for a few weeks. There is so much that has to be accomplished during pre-production to ensure that the actual shoot runs smoothly and efficiently. For articles on the importance of pre-production, you can browse through these articles, “Preparing for a Video Shoot,” “Scheduling Your Production,” and “If Only the Flux Capacitor Was Working.” Some of the tasks that demand our time and attention during pre-production include:

  • Creative meetings with the client to go over conceptual ideas
  • Writing a script
  • Revising the script
  • Scheduling the shoot
  • Location scouting
  • Securing locations
  • Casting (if necessary)
  • Hiring the crew
  • Prepping and loading the gear



Depending on the size and complexity of the project, our time spent in pre-production may last as little as five hours, all the way up to forty hours. Once the shooting date arrives and we arrive on location, we have to:

  • Unload the gear
  • Conduct one final walk-through
  • Move furniture to make room for the gear
  • Set up and light
  • Set up the camera
  • Block camera movements
  • Tweak background elements that are in each shot
  • Direct the talent
  • Prep the talent for audio
  • Slate, shoot, and log each take



And this process will repeat itself for every location. Again, our time in production will vary depending on the size and scope of each video project. We might spend as little as 1/2 day on location, but we might spend as much as five to seven days to capture all the footage necessary for the final video.

Once the shoot wraps, we take all the assets back to our office to begin editing. This is a process that largely goes unnoticed, but here are some action items that we must accomplish throughout post-production:

  • Transfer all footage from tapes or external hard drive to the editing system
  • Set up the project and import all assets
  • Go through all the raw footage, shot by shot, and make notes on what’s happening in each scene
  • Mark shots as usable or unusable
  • Begin rough assembly of the video to formulate the narrative structure
  • Record a scratch track of the voice-over to be used temporarily throughout this initial phase
  • Listen to any and all on-camera interviews for relevant and usable sound bites; mark these for use later
  • Insert the interview segments and compile them with the b-roll segments
  • Present the rough edit to the client for notes
  • Make revisions; tighten the edit
  • Make music selections
  • Insert the music
  • Direct the voice-over talent during the recording session
  • Insert the voice-over
  • Mix all audio
  • Create and insert all graphics and titles
  • Present to the client for notes
  • Make additional revisions if necessary
  • Color correct every shot to ensure optimum quality and color accuracy
  • Render and export the final video
  • Deliver to the client



Post-production can, by far, be the most time-consuming aspect of the production process. It’s not uncommon to spend as much as 40 hours on a 3-5 minute video for a client. To date, I believe, the most we have spent in post-production on a project has been 80 hours for a 7-minute promotional video.

I believe that video production is an artistic medium, and, as with all art, doing it well requires a certain amount of time and effort. So, the next time you want to work with a professional video production company, just know that the cameras, the lights, and the familiar call of “Action!” is only the tip of the iceberg.

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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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Get Started With Your Video Project

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

It’s not uncommon for me to receive calls and/or emails from potential clients who have never hired a video production company. Since they are so new to the process, they aren’t sure what questions to ask. They don’t know how much they should budget. They don’t understand the steps in the production process. In an effort to answer some of those initial questions, I have created a section in the sidebar of this page called “Get Started With Your Video Project.” It’s a collection of articles that I have written for this blog over the past several years that are intended to inform the newcomer about the overall process of video production, some considerations that need to be addressed, how to budget and schedule your video project, and other helpful information. So, if this is your first time here and you are interested in knowing more about how to get started, take the time to read some of these blog posts. After that, if you have more questions, please call or email me and I will be happy to help.

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What the Video Production Co. Doesn’t Know Can Hurt You

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

checklistWhat your video production doesn’t know can hurt you. Many people who have little experience working with video production companies usually feel a bit overwhelmed. They understand that they need to produce a video for their company, non-profit, school, etc. but beyond some basic generalities about the project, they aren’t sure what the video production company needs or needs to know. If the entire process is to run smoothly, you need to provide the video production company with some logistical details. A good producer or director will know to ask you these questions, but it’s still a good idea to have this information in-hand when you discuss the project with your video production company. Here are some details that need to be hammered out:

Project Overview

  • What/Who the video is for
  • The goals/objectives of the video
  • The desired length of the video
  • Where the final video will be shown (website, public event, seminar, trade show, in-house communication, sales meetings, etc.
  • The deadline (Read this post regarding video production deadlines and how to schedule your video project accordingly.)

Technical Details About the Project

Responsibilities

  • Script-writing responsibilities (will the video production company be required to conceptualize and write the script, or will your department handle that task?)
  • On-camera talent (will the project require professional talent to be provided by the video production company, or will your company provide employees for the video?)
  • Voice-over talent (will the production company need to provide this, or do you have someone available that you have used before?)

The Video Shoot (this will help the video production company determine how many shooting days are necessary)

  • The amount of material that needs to be shot
  • The specific people/places/products/etc. that needs to be shot
  • The number of different locations
  • The number of people that need to be interviewed
  • The amount of archival footage, stock footage, and/or stills that will be needed

On Location Considerations

  • Addresses and directions to all locations
  • Contact person for each location
  • Loading/Unloading zones
  • Specific location protocol (security concerns, where to sign in, where the video production company can and cannot go while at the locaton)
  • Staging area (an out-of-the-way place at the location where the video production company can store their gear)

I recommend taking the video production company representatives on a tech scout of each location before the shoot, so you can go over these details and clarify any unresolved issues. A good tech scout will catch potential problems before the shoot begins.

Clear, consistent communication between yourself and the video production company will be of enormous benefit when the shoot begins. Take the time to conduct thorough pre-production planning. Provide the video production company with everything they need. Your finished video will be a lot better because of it.

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*Don’t let the higher number – 1080 make you think that it’s better, or has a higher resolution that 720. Both are official high-definition formats. The difference is mainly in how the two formats record an image. The “i” in 1080i stands for “interlaced,” and the “p” in 720p stands for “progressive.” An interlaced image is created by breaking the image you see on your screen into two separate “fields” – upper and lower. Scan lines reproduce the image on the screen by scanning horizontally, top to bottom. On the first pass, the scan lines recreate every even line. On the second pass, the odd lines are recreated. The horizontal lines are interlaced to show you the complete picture. In HD video, there are 1080 horizontal scan lines. A progressive image is created by scanning the entire image in order, all at once, much like a single frame of film.

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“If Only” Production Stills – Days 3 and 4

Monday, June 1st, 2009

We started production on my latest short film, “If Only” on April 19. We were forced to postpone subsequent shooting days due to bad weather. Finally, the entire cast and crew was able to re-convene this past weekend in an effort to wrap up shooting. Things went along beautifully until we were forced to wrap early Sunday night. Fortunately we have been able to schedule one final day of shooting next month. Here’s hoping we don’t run into any more delays. Enjoy a few production stills from the weekend’s shoot. Thanks to everyone for their hard work. 

DP Michael Praytor lights the set

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