Video Production for Marketers Take 5: Tips & Tricks On Set

The fifth instalment in a series of posts aimed at demystifying the video production process for the uninitiated marketer.

Your plan is complete, your videographer knows what you want, and you’re on location. Now what…?

Based on my own experience, what happens next depends on the day of the week, the phase of the moon, how much tea you have in the cupboard at home, when you got your last haircut, and any number of other esoteric happenings. My best advice is to be flexible!

Even when you are confident that you’ve thought of everything, surprises can pop up. Technical issues, bad weather, unusual and unforeseen interruptions, a key member of the team calls in sick…there are too many variables to track, most of which are not in your control. It’s best to resign yourself that it won’t be perfect. But that’s OK…

…sometimes the unexpected makes great content too!

At the very least, it might make a good blooper reel to share with your friends! LOL

Here’s my list of on-set tips and tricks to help you get through a shoot with only minor bumps and bruises (both physical and psychological).

If your videographer is skilled, they should have each of these things well sorted on their own. However, even the best can miss things and equipment can fail without warning. I’m not suggesting that you should loom over their shoulder for the entire shoot. I’m simply saying that another pair of eyes and ears can’t hurt.

LightingHIGH PRIORITY

  • Lighting should be your team’s NUMBER ONE priority on set…your audience has to see what’s happening!
  • Check the lighting in all areas you are planning to use. (Ideally this happens before the actual shoot so you come prepared, but sometimes you have no choice but to do it on the same day you are filming.)
    • Have the person(s) and/or objects being filmed stand in each area.
    • Look for unwanted glare, shadows, backgrounds, moiré patterns, etc.
    • Is there something making an actor uncomfortable, like the sun shining into their eyes causing them to squint the whole time?
    • Your videographer can set up extra lights, bounce cards, etc. to get the look and feel you want for each scene.
  • For safety, make sure that ALL extension cords are out of the way of the action or taped down with the appropriate tape.

SoundHIGH PRIORITY

  • If you are shooting video with audio, sound should be your team’s NUMBER TWO priority on set.
    • Make sure every microphone: lapel, boom, camera mount, etc. is in good working order.
    • Check the sound recording quality for every person / thing that will be recorded. (Testing 1-2-3!)
    • The camera might be too far from the action to record high quality audio.
    • Voices can also be difficult to record when people are not facing the camera directly.
    • Is wind is likely to affect sound quality? If so, adding a wind sock to each mic should help.
  • Stand-alone digital recorders can be helpful in addition to the main audio recordings.
    • It serves as a back-up should something go wrong with the main audio. (It’s happened to me on two separate video shoots!)
    • Ever wonder what the clap board is for when you see behind the scenes on a movie set? During editing it allows the editor to sync each sound recording with the visuals.
    • They snap the clap board–or simply clap their hands loudly–in front of the camera, loud enough that the sound is picked up by ALL the mics on the set as well as the video camera.

Continuity – Moderate Priority

  • Dictionary.com defines continuity as, “a motion-picture scenario giving the complete action, scenes, etc., in detail and in the order in which they are to be shown on the screen.”
    • It’s not the end of the world if an actor is wearing a baseball cap in one shot but the cap is missing in the next shot, but it WILL be noticed!
  • Assign someone to keep an eye out for discrepancies when filming each scene. Note that you might want to use bits from several takes to build each scene.
    • I’ve found that one way to make that an easier task is to take a photo at the start of each take.
    • Before rolling on the next take, compare the photo with the scene in front of you, looking for discrepancies.

Secondary Video – Moderate Priority

If you are shooting a very short video, say up to 20 or 30 seconds long, having an an alternate angle on the action is not a requirement. However, the longer the video gets, the more need you will have to add visual variety to help keep your viewers’ attention. One of the easiest ways to do that is to cut to a different angle of the same scene.

When my video shoot is relatively simple and I don’t want to (or can’t afford to) pay for redoing each take at a different angle, I either bring second camera* and a tripod to the set or ask my videographer to do so. I set it up in one spot and leave it there for the entire shoot. You end up with two views to choose from for every take / scene. And, if the main camera’s memory card decides to flake out on you, the extra footage might be enough to save the day and you will avoid having to re-shoot a scene.

*Make sure the second camera can take video with the same resolution being shot by the main camera.

Extras & Nice-to-Haves

  • Take photos of behind the scenes for your website, email, and social media, The Making of Our Fabulous New Video!
  • Put one or more objects in the scene that you can use later on for social media engagement, Can you find all the hidden XYZ in this video?
  • If by some miracle you don’t have any real bloopers on video–or none that you want to broadcast to the general public!–deliberately shoot some outtakes to share with your audience for fun.
  • Shoot some B-roll…(see next week’s post for more on B-roll.)

WATCH OUT FOR ACCIDENTAL PRODUCT PLACEMENT!

Have at least two people scan each location for unwanted visuals.

Logos | Packaging | Signs | Buildings | Desk tops | Flags | Billboards | Accessories | Clothing

Don’t advertise another company’s products.

OR, even worse, your competition’s products!

I’ve seen this happen. Even some of the largest brands on the planet have made this mistake!

Did I miss something? Do you have a clever on-set hack? Please share in the comments below!

The next installment is now available. Take 6: What the H*ll is B-roll?

Unlike wild bears, feeding the content creator is encouraged! 🙂

© 2021 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting.

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