Shoot day is one of my favorite parts of the entire video process. Being on-set getting to interact with the client, working with the creative team and watching them do what they do best, conducting interviews and executing the vision we’ve worked so hard on developing is, yes, hard work, but exciting, rewarding and just plain fun.
While I work with the client to develop a schedule that works for all parties and communicate expectations for the day, there are a few things that I’ve observed often come as a surprise. In this post, I’ll talk about a few of those observations, with the hope that when shoot day rolls around, you’ll be as least surprised as possible (except in the best possible way).
Capturing footage — whether it be one interview or a day full of interviews and b-roll — is no easy task; it’s much more than showing up with a couple of cameras and pressing “record.”
From the creative side, there’s lighting to consider; maybe the sun is too harsh that day, or maybe the clouds are casting a dark shadow over the set — what lights do we need to set up to help compensate? Maybe we’re set up in a really nice conference room, but the paint color makes the subject look washed-out — how can we move or rearrange the set-up?
From my side of things, there’s also logistics to consider. Maybe the building we’re filming at requires our crew to unload gear at the loading dock and bring gear up through a freight elevator, which requires us to contact a security person ahead of time to come let us in and escort us through the building. Often times, the only close place to park is in a parking garage, but our van with the gear exceeds the clearance height — then what?
Yes, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered prior to the day of production, and I assure you that we will do our best to anticipate every single one of these questions. However, it’s these behind-the-scenes questions we’re finding solutions for that do add to the process of production way before we even start to press “record.”
Interruptions are inevitable. This is particularly true if we are filming in the city.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you — that was a great answer — but we have to wait for this siren to pass,” is something you will most likely hear at least once during the day.
There will be sirens, loud trucks, construction projects and cars honking that we may need to pause for in order to capture the cleanest audio quality possible.
While noises from public areas are beyond our control, it is our job to minimize or prevent the noises that we can control. A big thing to anticipate is whether the location at which we’re filming has a loud A/C unit; just the sound of a fan or air blowing out of a vent can, in fact, be disruptive. If we’re filming in a location where there’s people working or walking about, or in a room that’s adjacent to a busy parking lot, it’s often a good idea to send an e-mail out ahead of time and/or make signs to post on walls and doors.
For example, I remember at one shoot, our designated interview location was right next to an elevator. The constant “ding ding” of course prolonged the interview; had I spent more time scouting out other location options, we could have had a much more efficient, less disruptive interview. Lesson learned.
Say we’re on a shoot that requires some staged b-roll, such as having the talent play an instrument, type at a computer or simply walk down a hallway. If the talent performs the action perfectly the first time, we will undoubtedly ask him or her to do it again. Or if we’re recording a scripted voiceover, and the person speaking does a wonderful job the first time, we will ask him or her to record it again. And most likely again.
The reason we do multiple takes isn’t necessarily because something wasn’t done well or captured well the first time. The reason we do multiple takes is because in the editing process, you never want to have a thought that starts with, “I wish we would have.” We like options to cut between and edit together and to make sure we include just the right visual at just the right time.
So maybe we record your voiceover two more times, but this time, let’s have you do one take with a slower pace and speak as if you were giving a speech, and let’s have you do another take with a faster pace and more conversational tone. Or maybe we’re filming you doing as simple as working at a computer, but for a second take, let’s have you type, take your hands off the keys, sit back to review your work, and continue typing. The point is, we like options. And hey, it’s all part of the fun of shoot day.