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Lights, Camera, ACTION!

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

So…you’ve hired a video production company (me, of course, right?) to shoot and edit together a promo video for you. The day of your shoot has arrived but you have no idea what to expect. Let me help you out with that….

On a typical on-location shoot for a promo video, or interview video starts about 1 hour before you arrive. We arrive first to scout the location (if we’ve never been there before) and choose a room (if we have a choice). Our choice is based on a few factors –

-         we don’t want any open windows behind our subject (backlighting kills video),

-         we don’t want to shoot in a room full of noises (fan, heater vent, landlines, other people, music playing over the PA system, etc. If we can shut any of those things off, we will, but if not we look for a room with the least noise),

-         we DO want a larger room with interesting items on shelves or walls (larger room allows us to set up a proper lighting set and create a good depth of field)

-         we DO want a room with several electrical outlets, if possible. We definitely need at least one,

-         And, we DO want variety. If we are doing several days of interviews, we may want to set up in a few different locations in order to keep the background interesting to the viewer.

Once we’ve arrived and assessed the situation, we’ll start hauling in gear. We have a large truck, which is good because on a typical shoot we haul in gear on a dolly because it’s about the size of a dresser, and about as heavy as that too, if each drawer were filled with 30 lb weights. So…a lot of gear. Why so much? Well, that takes us into set-up!

Set up consists of erecting and correctly positioning these items: 3 professional grade lights on 3 light stands, two 5lb ankle weights on the bottom of each light stand (for stability), at least 2 power hubs/extension cords to plug in lights and/or cameras (we usually bring an entire case of them), 2 camera bags (filled with cameras, media, camera batteries, backup power supplies, AA batteries for mics, gaff tape, headphones, and a slew of other small items), 2 tripods (or more, if necessary), a case filled with audio gear (we normally only use 1 or 2 items, but have backups for virtually everything), a makeup case (translucent powder, clean makeup pads, mirror, comb, makeup brush, and plastic cloak), and any paperwork we need. Suffice it to say – we have a lot of gear to set up!

When you arrive, the room we’ve chosen will be set up with all of our gear, which we have adjusted and tested thoroughly. We’re ready to begin shooting upon your arrival! It might look a bit intimidating. The seat we will have prepared for you is surrounded by lights, cameras, and us…it’s a bit overwhelming sometimes. I get it.

BUT…don’t let that shrink your confidence. Lean on us for direction. This is our world and we know that while we’ve done this a million times, this may be your first!

There are 2 styles of shooting on-location. There’s the interview style and there’s the promo style.

For an interview style, we’ll greet you and make some small talk while putting on your lapel mic and applying powder to your face (if needed), we’ll direct you where to sit, and our interviewer will sit with you and give you some brief, simple instructions (look at me…not the camera, try to phrase everything in a complete sentence, if you don’t know anything about the topic I’ve asked about, it’s ok to decline, etc.). We like to make the interview process seem as natural as a conversation to help you ease into it. So, for an interview you won’t hear us say “ok, now we’re recording!”. We want to fold a normal conversation into the interview questions. So, our interviewer will make small talk with you for awhile. Once the camera operators are ready and have begun recording, one of them will tap the back of the interviewer’s shoulder so that the interviewer will know that it’s time to organically fold what you’re currently talking about into the actual interview questions. You might get through the first few questions without even knowing that the interview has started!

For a promo style, there is no interviewer. You are either reading off a teleprompter (which we have with us) or acting. In either case, you’ll still walk into a properly lit room, be greeted by us and instructed on the plan. You’ve likely given us a script to work with (or we’ve written one for you that you’ve preapproved), so we will stick to that script religiously unless the boss (you, the client) want to add or subtract anything from it. We’ll have you start with scene 1, and our continuity director will call out scene and take numbers while jotting down good takes in her/his notes, and paying close attention to the scene to watch for continuity errors. (a glass in one scene that disappears in the next, etc.) We will do as many takes as necessary to get the right one, so don’t be discouraged if we’re on take 28 of scene 2 because of a difficult combination of words…it happens ALL the time. You are not alone!

 

After the shoot is over, you’ll be relieved but hopefully also confident, encouraged, and hopeful, knowing that when you searched for a Colorado video professional, you hit the jackpot and are looking forward to the finished product!