Posts Tagged ‘shooting’
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, 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.
Friday, July 29th, 2011
A 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.
Monday, May 2nd, 2011
On April 20 I had an opportunity to give a guest lecture at Samford University to a group of public relations students. The professor invited me to speak because his class was learning about the video production process. He had already covered the topic of producing VNR’s (Video News Releases), and asked me to teach on the subject of commercials and marketing videos. During the class, I covered a general overview of video production. We discussed current marketing and advertising trends, the process of formulating and scripting ideas, common mistakes to avoid, how to work with and respond to clients, and the process of shooting and editing video. The slides from my presentation are embedded below.
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
A few months ago I posted a couple of articles outlining ways in which you can help make the post-production process a little more efficient. The foundation for a smooth post-production is laid during the actual shoot. If you are disciplined and organized in production, then the edit will get off to a good start. There are two major things you need to do throughout the shoot – slate each shot and maintain a shooting log.
Slating each shot means placing a clapboard, card, a piece of paper, etc. in front of the camera before each scene. Written on the slate is valuable information pertaining to the individual shot, like scene number, take number, production title, and date. Having this information appear before every take will help your editor keep track of all the shots throughout post. Even if you are working both as director and editor, a slate is an invaluable tool.
In addition to slating each shot, it’s important to keep a running log of everything you shoot. A log contains a description of each take and a record of what happened during that particular take. It will help you remember, for example, if the pickup truck blocked your main actor on the fourth take or the sixth take. It will help you to remember if the conveyor belt moved at just the right speed on the third or the fifth take. And it will help you to remember when your interview subject used that great sound byte.
This all sounds great, in theory. The reality is, sometimes in the hectic pace of a documentary corporate shoot, or low-budget indie project, it can be easy to get off track. However, the iPhone has apps available to help make the process easier and more convenient. iSlate, from iBuiltThis, is a digital clapper that allows users to conveniently slate and log their shots. It’s perfect for a run-and-gun project with a bare bones crew, because you will always have your phone with you. And since it’s only $3, iSlate is a great option when compared to actual chalk and dry-earse slates on the market.