Posts Tagged ‘shoot’

Have a Specific Plan for Video B-Roll

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.

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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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When Video Directors and Clients Have Different Working Styles

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

img_5638b2In my experiences as a video producer and director, I have learned that clients can fall under two extremes: On one end of the spectrum are clients who are heavily involved in every stage of the process.  On the other end of the spectrum are the clients who take a “hands off” approach. They approve the creative strategy and then let the production company produce the video. Then, they will come back in during the editing process to give notes. And, of course, there are clients who will fall somewhere in the middle.

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility as a producer/director to give the client what they want. You need to recognize their particular work habits and learn to adapt accordingly. But if you are faced with a client who prefers a “hands off” approach it can be difficult to determine if you are on the right track. You could be faced with a big problem if you have already shot all of your footage and invested a lot of time in the edit only to discover that your client didn’t like the way you shot a particular scene. Or they might not like the wording of the script in a particular section. Or they might not like the look of a certain location. However, there are things that both the client and the video director can do to avoid costly re-shoots or extra time in the editing suite.

Directors, don’t ignore the client while on set. If you see that they are standing off by themselves, encourage them to come over and take a look at each shot before you start filming. Ask them if the lighting, framing, blocking, etc. is what they had in mind. Before moving on to another scene, ask the client if there is any other shot that they need before wrapping the gear. Clients, make sure that someone from your team is on location to supervise the shoot. Don’t be afraid to look over the director’s shoulder. Ask questions. Be honest about what you would like to see. Make sure that the footage you are getting is the footage you want. Better to have the footage and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Ultimately, a video production is a collaborative process, so both parties should respect each other and listen to any creative input. The client and the production company both want to produce the best video possible. And that’s some common ground from which to start.

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