Planning a day full of b-roll and fun

522 Productions got a very unique project and I was lucky enough to work on it. One of the requirements was to get b-roll of my favorite city – Washington, DC. Monuments, construction, people, H street, U Street and what doesn’t get shown on TV were all included in my shot list. So how does one go about completing this in a very small amount of time? Read on.

Pre-production. I really can’t stress this enough. Sure, you can hop on the train with your DSLR and walk around all day to get some shots of the monuments. Sounds easy enough, but I’ve done this before and it never quite works out. You never get amazing shots of each spot and you never get enough.

So what should you do? Plan out as much as you can for the day. If done right, this will take some time. Figure out where you need to go, how to get there, how much travel time is involved, where the sun will be, what gear you need and my favorite….where to eat!

For planning this day, I went to Google maps and looked at the best ways to get to each location and determined how long it would take to get to each spot. After some brainstorming, we split the day into two parts. The first half would be in the car, the second on foot. Shooting between noon and 1PM gives you the worst lighting, so I planned lunch during that time and I was sure to be close to Ben’s Chili Bowl :). I went a level deeper in the planning by also figuring out which roads Chad needed to drive on so I (as the passenger) could get the best shots. The shots done on foot were a breeze since I’ve given friends tours of the monuments countless times. Now for the gear.

When shooting b-roll with a two person crew, you want to stay light. If you haven’t seen it already, check out a post on how to keep things light when traveling with gear. For this shoot, I rigged our 7D with the 24-70 L for the first part of the day (shooting out of the car), 3 batteries 2 cards and a Z finder. When we had two people shooting on foot, we had the 5D with a 17-50 to get extremely wide. This gave us four different options and kept us moving.

With almost a half day and possibly more of planning, this one day shoot was a success. We ended up getting more than what I thought we would and this will save us time for the second day of shooting. Pre-production saves the day again!

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