This is the second of three posts that will explain our approach to the video production process. Part Two focuses on the actual production and video shoot.
In my last blog on the production process, I talked about the goal of pre-production: To answer all of the basic questions about your video. Why do you need a video? Who is your audience?
Who will be the faces and voices in the video – the cast? What are the key points you need to make? When do you need it finished? Where will we be filming? Where will your audience see the film? And, the big one – HOW will we approach this video? All the answers to these questions are compiled to develop a detailed plan that we share during a pre-production meeting with the client.
The plans for video production take several forms: film treatments, scripts, mood boards, storyboards, style frames, budgets and schedules. As our client, you want to understand how your key messages and communication goals will be reflected in the film. You’re also concerned about logistics, especially if we’re shooting in your location. By the end of our pre-production meeting, you will have a clear understanding of when, where and how we will be producing your video. With your approval, we then move into production.
One of the first elements to be decided is where the shoot will take place. Many corporate videos shoot on location at a client’s facility, plant or headquarters. We have shot everywhere from corporate boardrooms and CEO offices to oil rigs in the North Sea to factories in Nigeria. We’ve loaded into and out of some of the most secure office towers on the planet. We’ve held traffic in midtown Manhattan, Piccadilly Circus and along the Champs-Élysées. We’ve shot on boats and helicopters, and we have rigged cameras to construction cranes, bicycles, helmets, skis and drones.
Once the locations have been determined, we ask clients for a company liaison who will be part of our production team, someone who can get us access to the people and places we’ll need during the shoot. This liaison joins us on the “technical scout,” a meeting of the key personnel conducted on location in advance of the shoot day. Prior to our arrival, the liaison will alert security and others in the areas where we will be shooting. The liaison also determines an area where we can store equipment and works with office staff to gain control of overhead lighting as well as air conditioning or other machines whose noise will interfere with the sound quality.
After scouting, the production team compiles a minute-by-minute schedule for each shoot day that is shared with all parties involved so they know what to expect. We also provide guidance to those who might be appearing on camera on everything from what to wear, how much makeup to apply and what to expect while the cameras are rolling. While preparation is important, too much preparation – such as unnecessarily rehearsing or memorizing lines – can be detrimental. We want interviewees to speak genuinely, but we know this can be quite nerve-racking.
So we maintain a relaxed but efficient atmosphere before as well as during our shoot.
Shoot days tend to start early because producers want to be ready to roll when our interviewees arrive. We typically allow 10-15 minutes for makeup and a brief conversation with the director. Then we bring our interviewee on set. The director takes charge and is the only one who speaks with the interviewee. It can be intimidating to be in front of a camera, not to mention a crew, lighting fixtures and sound-recording devices. Part of the director’s job is to help the subject relax and ignore all of those trappings so when the cameras are rolling, we get the most authentic response or performance.
On most shoots, we also plan time for shooting b-roll. These shots are necessary to cover edits and to illustrate topics that are covered in the film. We may ask the interview subjects to stage some routine events – meeting with colleagues, arriving at work or doing something they normally do. We may also want to shoot products or show manufacturing processes. At times, the best b-roll to illustrate a given topic is footage we can acquire from company libraries, third parties or stock footage libraries. Regardless, it’s always best to allow ample time during a shoot for capturing b-roll.
Of course, the best-laid plans are likely to change. The producer’s job is to have plan B, C and often D ready and to adjust as needed as we move through shooting. While we do our best at all times to avoid incurring additional expenses when plans shift, a production budget is determined not only by creative concept but also by the schedule. Any change in plans may have an impact on the budget. The producer should always present you with options so we can work together to determine the most cost-efficient response to unexpected circumstances.
When the shoot day is over and all the equipment and crew have gone home, it’s time to move into the post-production phase. If you haven’t been on set during the production, expect a report at the end of the day detailing how the shoot days went. The report also includes a schedule update listing important milestones that are coming during the editing process.
In my next blog, “The Production Process – Part 3: Post-Production,” we’ll explore and discuss what happens next, after the cameras are put away.