Our third edition of TVG's "Demystifying Video Production" series covers the Production phase. That is, the activities happens on the day(s) that the video or audio footage is recorded for the project. Production days are fun and exciting times filled with professional lights, cameras, crew and yes, a director calling out, "action!"
Given that you had a solid pre-production phase, the production phase will be even more fun because you are confident in your clear and detailed plan for the day!
As a reminder, this series of resources is designed both for those new to the video production process as well as those already familiar with video production.
Equipment Load-In & Team Introductions
The first order of business for the day is to bring all the video, audio, lighting, and other equipment into the location and space where the production is happening.
It can often take 1-2 hours to load in all the needed equipment, depending upon factors such as whether a loading dock needs to be used instead of pedestrian doors, the distance from the desired parking area to the load-in area, building rules for external vendors, etc.
Once the equipment is loaded in and placed in a secure and accessible (to where the set is) spot, the next step is for everyone to take a bit of a breath, get briefed again on the "run of show", shooting schedule, or detailed plan for the day, depending on the production type.
A good practice is to gather everyone as a team in order to introduce the various crew members, cast members/or subjects on camera, clients, vendors, and other stakeholders.
Giving folks a moment to introduce themselves and to say a little bit about themselves and their role is a great way to make the day smoother, quicker, more efficient, and more fun! Production is always a team sport, and getting into the team spirit, as early as possible in the production day always yields a better end product.
Scouting the Location
Once everyone has been introduced, the next step is to scout the location as a team. For both "narrative" and "interview style" productions, scouting the location in advance of arriving to set on the day of the production is very much preferred. At the very least, viewing photos of the space provided by the client, location manager, or the location point-of-contact is helpful.
Even if a team location scout happened earlier in the process, it is always helpful to get a fresh set of eyes on the space(s) where the production is happening. New perspectives, ideas, physical changes to the space, lighting or sound considerations, and a lot of other factors may have changed when last folks scouted the space.
Equipment Set Up
The next step is to set up the video, lighting, and sound equipment. Whether the team is capturing interviews, b-roll (action shots), or narrative (scripted) footage, the equipment first needs to be "built." This process includes:
- "Building" cameras and putting lenses and other attachments on them,
- Placing cameras on tripods (sometimes called "sticks"), gimbals, sliders, or other equipment
- Setting up light stands, C-stands for sound or lighting needs, backdrops, and so on.
- Preparing and testing sound equipment such as microphones, boom poles, and sound recorders.
- Placing and tweaking the lights themselves
- Setting up chairs and backgrounds for interviews or props for scripted scenes
First Shot Off
Now that the equipment is set up and ready to go, it is now time to bring in the interviewee or "talent" for the scene. Once the subject is in front of the camera, the camera crew cam tweak lighting and camera position, record the "chip chart" which later helps with color correction, do the Slate or "clapper" to help with audio and post-production organization, and call "last looks" for the makeup artist or others before the director calls "Action."
"B-Roll" Or Action Shots
Generally speaking, most videos utilize some form of action footage, whether it is "B-roll" footage of documentary-style shots of folks working or interacting that illustrates the interviewee's point or scripted scenes utilizing actors.
Our advice here is to take time with your video production team to create a list of scenes or shots you'd like to capture, decide who on your team or which actors will participate in each scene in advance, what space(s) need to be captured/scheduled, and what other types of shots you'll need to bring the videos' vision to life.
Along with this is to be aware of the time needed to capture each shot in the time you have. This of course is something that your video production team should help you plan and manage.
Time for Lunch and Scheduling Changes
A couple quick notes here is to plan time for the crew and other stakeholders to get a solid amount of time for a lunch break offering them healthy and ample food choices.
Another quick note is to plan time for interviewees, actors, and any other stakeholder in case they are late to their agreed upon call time. Unexpected and uncontrollable things happen all the time on set, so it is best to expect some sort of unplanned schedule change and to prepare a contingency in advance.
Once the production is completed for the day, it's time to call "wrap" gather up the gear, and transport it out of the location. There is usually quite a lot of camera, sound, and lighting equipment to load out, so the process may take a few trips and over an hour or more to accomplish.
This Load Out time needs to be accounted for while planning a manageable and successful production day.
A Note On Receiving Raw Footage
Often we are asked to provide the raw footage of the video or still photographs that we capture. There are a couple items to consider with this:
- For video footage in particular, because we use professional cameras, the size of the video files means that uploading to a cloud-based storage system is not generally an option due to the time needed to transfer so many gigabytes (even terabytes) of information. Our preferred method is to provide the client footage on hard drive after the shoot where possible, but we can always have a cloud solution so long as we plan for it in advance to ensure adequate time for uploading.
- We've also found that when folks request the raw footage straight from the camera, they often expect it to be made up of files that consumer-level editing software can read, whereas often you may need professional editing software, and or plugins to read the native footage.
- Another consideration is that the raw footage is often shot "flat", with no color correction or adjustment to it. This allows us to adjust color more easily during the post-production process. But upon viewing actual raw footage, folks are often surprised by how dull the color of the untouched footage looks, and without experience in color correction, it may be difficult to get your achieved look without assistance.
- To that end, we do offer a "footage prep" service where we will do a quick pass of color correction to get you "in the ballpark" and convert the files so that they can be read by virtually all editing platforms. So if this is something you'd like, just let us know and we'll discuss building that in to the post production process.
- While the process is a little different when it comes to photography, the challenges and the general steps to address those challenges are the same as for video (as described above.)
If you have any questions or comments on all this, or if there is some other way we can bring value to your business, please click here to reach out!