Filming To Tight Schedules

A lot has to be calculated when producing a video. To be honest, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I have to think deeply about these calculations because they’ve become second nature when I’m filming. It’s an advantage when filming to tight schedules. Even with the subconscious nature of my skills, clients ask for near impossible deadlines, mainly because they don’t know the level of detail that goes into crafting a video. They only see what’s in front of them, and have no contemplation of what’s gone into producing the images and sound. Every single aspect is meticulously scrutinised by the filmmaker.

Lighting For Video
When I’m filming, I’m not only looking at the subject, but also how the subject is lit. Lighting can have a big effect on how an audience reacts emotionally to the image. When the lighting is soft and even, it gives a sense of positiveness. When the light is intense and hard, it gives a sense of negativity. Lighting happens after blocking the movements of the subject and the camera. There are two types of lighting sources, natural and unnatural. Our Sun is a natural lighting source. Manufactured light bulbs are an unnatural lighting source. We cannot manipulate the Sunlight’s direction and intensity, something that changes with time. But we can change it’s effect on the subject by blocking parts of the sunlight and reflecting it. Every aspect of manufactured lights can be manipulated in order to get the intended aesthetic lighting effect.

LED-Video-Light-and-DSLR-CameraThe Camera
I’m also manipulating the camera’s reaction to the light. The main points of control are the aperture, shutter speed and the ISO. The aperture when changed effects the amount of light going into the camera and also the amount of space the focal depth covers. The shutter speed when changed effects the amount of light going into the camera and also effects the clarity of a moving object. The ISO changes the sensitivity of the light going into the camera without changing effect on focal depth and clarity of movement.

These camera settings are the main change on every video production I setup depending on how the subject is lit. I try to keep my shutter speed to 1/50 of a second because sometimes when it’s increased, something happens called a rolling shutter. Looks like a series of dark bars rolling up the screen, doesn’t look good and a pain to fix afterwards, best to resolve this when filming. This is a tip I picked up from well respected filmmaker Philip Bloom. His DSLR camera reviews online give great tips on how to best set your DSLR for video capture.
http://philipbloom.net/blog

microphoneCapturing Sound
The visuals and the sound is never synced automatically on a professional video production, syncing the sound to the video is done manually in post-production. A good camera can capture great video, but not great sound. The built in microphone in a camera has two problems for professional video production. First it’s not great quality, it’s automated to pick up every single piece of sound that’s happening 360°. Secondly the microphone is fixed in the camera, thus limiting where you want to place the microphone without moving the camera.

For profession sound I use a separate sound recording device with a microphone plugged in with a XLR cable and the microphone attached to a three meter boom pole, ideal for getting the microphone close to the sound in wide angle shots. This microphone is high quality and directional to capture sound 90°. Because sound and video is recorded separately, a marker has to be established for them to be synced afterwards. On profession video productions a slate is used. You’ve seen them, it’s that board with numbers and sticks on top that bang together to make a loud sound, this is the mark used to sync sound in post-production. Because I’m shooting to tight deadlines I keep the in built camera microphone on to use as my marker, giving me more valuable time in production and post-production.

editingThe Cutting Room
When creating my edit in post-production, I need as much flexibility as possible when manipulating my captured image. There’s a free to use software for DSLR cameras that helps this process called a Technicolor Cine-Style Profile. It gives enough colour information and provides definition to dark areas without overexposing lighter areas, and can be manipulated in post-production to create the desired image. This manipulation is colour grading. I use two steps to colour grading. The primary is correcting the contrast, brightness and colour of the image. The secondary is the aesthetic, the style of the image. This process I always do last, when everyone’s happy with the edited sequence of the video.

The sound goes through it’s own similar process. The primary, cleaning of any unwanted hiss, clicks, pops and leveled out. The secondary, the style of the sound, any manipulated effects. All sounds have to be mixed together with the final music. Currently I have a workflow setup from start to finish to deal with a video production project. This setup is built to deal with tight schedules. For every three minutes of video, it takes me four hours to edit a sequence, four hours to create any motion graphics, four hours to clean and design the image and four hours to clean, design and mix the sound.

In the coming weeks I will be releasing more articles diving deeper into everything mentioned in this article. Bye for now.

 



What Video Producers Want From Clients – 2 Bee Videos

In last weeks article I outlined what a producer needs for a video’s content strategy. This article outlines every need a video producer wants from their client for the entire video production. I have an objective with a series of goals. The objective is to create your video, and these are my goals.

The Initial First Meeting
It’s important for me to know you ‘the client’ inside out. Their brand, their ethos and their style. Their video has to reflect this. In most cases the client may have in mind something they want to produce, but it’s best to take things back to why I’m talking to you in the first place “What do you want your video to achieve? (And don’t say “make my website look good”)”. This would involve looking at what you’ve already achieved, how you work and the style of your work. This gives me a direction for your video and to be in keeping with you and your brand’s personality. It’s important to establish any deadlines. I recommend that the initial first meeting take place two weeks before the time the video definitely needs to be ready.

The Script
This is the subject I talked about last week. Once I know the ins and outs of the client, I start writing the script for their video. Every video follows a structure, and you always find similarities with a structured video production. This is where content strategy comes into the equation. To read my last article about content strategy, please click here.

Filming Itinerary
Some clients may have a certain event that needs to be captured on film. In this case, planning is everything. What? Where? & When? What is happening that needs to be captured on camera? Where is it happening? At what time is it happening? A detailed itinerary of the day’s events helps to carefully and meticulously plan the production around the event.

In the case of producing original content for camera. Filming dates can be arranged anytime between the client and the video producer. This being based on the content written for the video by the producer.

Who?
In videos involving people on or talking to camera, confidence goes a long way. Planning what will happen on the day of filming with the people in front of camera is the first step in helping them relax, it can be quite daunting for some individuals. There are some more techniques on helping people relax in front of camera on the day of filming. It’s important that I personally plan everything with the person that is going to be in front of camera.

Location, Location, Location
It might be that a filming location may not be suitable for the video production. This maybe because of aesthetic decisions, or the location may not be suitable for cast and crew because of health and safety or logistical reasons. Location recce and inspections are important, nothing can be left to chance.

Guatemala-sink-holeThe Subject
In the same way I would personally plan filming with a person whom will be in front of camera, I will be doing the same with filming around an object or physical product. I would liaise with the owner of that object to make sure everything goes to plan and make sure the owner is comfortable.

Graphic Materials
As part of my objective to make sure the client’s video contains content reflecting them, any branding, logos and other visual material representing the client helps the video. There is a quality threshold, and this is discussed in the initial meeting.

Formatting For The Platform
Knowing where your video is going to be hosted helps formatting the video correctly. The video has to retain high definition quality and the digital file be small enough it can be uploaded to your chosen platform speedily. Be that YouTube, Vimeo or your main website. With my services you can choose how you would like your video delivered. Be that a hard digital copy delivered physically, or digital transfer using Google services sharing via email link for a limited time only.

If you need a video and like what you’ve read, then contact me Benjamin Harding. Via email at ben@2bee.co.uk, or by phone on 07833 456766.



Content Strategy For Video – 2 Bee Videos

It’s All About Planning
Content strategy is the planning of what will be presented within the video. A job conducted by the producer. This relies on information about the subject and the target audience. Knowing the target audience is key to producing a good video. A producer must think, “what is it that the viewer wants to see in order for the video to make an impact?” From this a production is devised, with the producer at the helm making sure all marks are hit.

Some videos fail to achieve their desired effect based on this fact. No thought has been given to what the audience actually needs to see and hear. Audiences react emotionally. When they see themselves within the context of what they are watching, you have their undivided attention. This is also important when a producer takes into account the tone of the video, it’s length and pacing. If a client does not know what they want their video to achieve, then it’s useless for them to approach a video producer.

A Producer’s First Meeting With A Client
The content strategy starts with the first meeting between a client and a producer. “I just want it to make my website look pretty”, is at the top of the list of what a video producer does not want to hear. The video has a purpose and is their for a reason. That reason is dictated by a goal. That goal is what the producer needs to know. A video producer will get to know their client and their product. That product has a target audience, and therefore the video for that product is designed to engage that target audience.

If you are someone who just wants some video that looks pretty on your website, you want a videographer, not a video producer. A video producer is there to craft an emotionally engaging video that speaks to it’s audience in order to make them react and hit that call to action.

Knowing The Product And It’s Target Audience
Once a producer knows the clients product and it’s target audience, they will set in motion the pre-production materials based around this information. The script, an important video production blueprint that must be constructed correctly. And when I say script, I’m not just talking about pages of stage directions and lines. I’m talking about all the points a video needs to hit in order to make an impact on it’s audience. This is where most videos fall short. “Let’s just shoot” is something I hear sometimes, and can be damaging to a video production. Hollywood director Ridley Scott said “Once you crack the script, everything else follows”.

A script always follows the same structure, one that always works. It’s the details that are different in every script. It’s not just Hollywood films, it’s all kinds of videos out on the web that have been carefully constructed to engage it’s audience. This is because story is everything. Tell the story in the right way, and people will engage with it. If the client’s video has a call to action, the story in the video needs to emulate the needs of that of the audience. Put those needs in a theatrical production and audiences will engage on an emotional level that will make them react. The same is said for how the audience also engage with the tone, length and pacing of the video. A great way to keep your audience engaged is the 3-2-1 technique. Start by showing your audience what will be shown keeping your best till last.

The Call To Action
Once the video has effectively pulled on the emotions of the viewer, their next thought should be the where and how of getting their hands on or engaging with what they are watching. What do you want your audience to do next? This call to action will go at the end of the video.

So to summarise, a content strategy for video should:

  • Know the product and it’s audience.
  • Hit goals to present.
  • Have a good script that emotionally engages it’s audience.
  • Have a call to action.