Video Production - Part 2 - The Production Stage

Video Production   Part 2   The Production Stage

Continued from Part 1 - Pre-production.

OK. You've written your script, got everything approved, organized everything and everyone, and now you're ready to shoot your video. Here are the major considerations for the video production stage.

Above all else, practice extreme safety measures such as making sure that wires are taped down, that lights have sandbags on them to prevent them from tipping over and other potential accidents are avoided.

Set-up and breakdown
If you're in an unsecured, public area, do what you have to do to secure your equipment when you bring it to the set and when you're done shooting. If it requires two or more trips to your auto so load or unload the equipment, get someone to help you or at least watch over the equipment until you are around to secure all of it.

Make sure you allot time to set up, test and break down the equipment on the set. Unless you need the talent or actors on the set early for some reason, and especially if you're paying them for their time, you can tell your actors to show up later, so they don't get in the way or become impatient while everything is being readied for the shoot.

The set up period is when you are testing equipment, setting up your lights, doing audio checks, setting up props and signage, taping down cables so that no one trips over them, and performing other activities necessary for the production process to take place.

Conversely, allot plenty of time to break down the equipment and load it into the automobile(s), using the security precautions identified earlier.

Obviously, you didn't bring your lights to the set when you did your initial site inspection. So here's where the tire hits the road. It's time to light the set. If you want to create professional lighting, you'll need to take time to light the foreground, background and of course the subject. It's not as easy as you would think, as shadows seem to appear from nowhere. So bring more lights than you think you'll need and allot plenty of extra time for this important task. Lights can be rented from video rental companies.

As the name implies, the director directs the production. Generally, the technical people know what to do and won't need hands-on direction, unless there's a problem. But the director will direct the actors and orchestrate the production stage, as he or she is responsible for success or failure at this crucial phase of the project.

Remember, there should only be one director. It's a bad scene (no pun intended) when the director gets into an argument with someone on the set who decides to challenge their authority. So unless it's pre-arranged for this to be a collaborative effort, just give one person the final decision making power on the set. Otherwise, chaos will reign. The time for collaboration is during the pre-production phase. During this action phase, it's time to execute the plan, not rethink it. Of course last minute ideas and other matters happen, but

Don't let them get in the way of sticking to your basic plan and timetable.

As I mentioned in the pre-production article, try to get redundant audio in case a microphone cuts out or otherwise malfunctions and prepare for a plan B if your initial audio equipment doesn't work for some reason. For instance, if you're shooting in an urban area with lots of skyscrapers and you're using a wireless microphone, you may get interference. When you're trying to shoot an industrial video is no time to be picking up the baseball game on your wireless mic channel! So if you have your wired microphone, you can replace the wireless one and save the day.
Above all else, test the audio level of the presenter before the program begins and have someone monitor the audio with headphones and some sort of meter on the camera or a mixer. Ideally you want the audio to go through an audio mixer so the levels can be monitored and adjusted by a person whose sole task is to do this.

Make Up
If you have the budget to hire one, a make up person is indispensable. It is their sole job to see if the talent is 'shining' and requires make-up due to sweat, oily skin or the way the light is hitting them. They are also responsible for hair and the general appearance of the actors. When you're on the set, it's no time for a bad hair day! The make up artist can also be responsible for wardrobe and making sure all of the little details of the talent's grooming are tended to. Just make sure he or she understands their responsibilities before the shoot. Of course that goes for everyone on the set.

Camera person
It goes without saying that the camera person needs to know what they're doing. They need to know about white balancing, making sure the video is focused, knows the type of camera moves the director wants, has a good fluid head tripod for smooth camera moves, can troubleshoot possible problems, and can otherwise help make the shot look good.
Unless you can re-shoot a scene or a day's worth of production, you only get one chance to get it right. So having a great production team is crucial. This means that everyone is competent, helps out, leaves any personal problems at the door, and has a helpful approach to the day's work.

Sometimes a client will hire my company to do the production phase after they have written the script and done much of the pre-production work. And if the production is done properly, the client may even try their hand at editing the production. There's no problem with this because unless they somehow ruin the original footage, it's impossible to permanently goof up the edit. But the production phase is another story. You generally only get one chance at it – especially if it's a live event.

Often, when we're hired for the production phase, we suggest that the client pay us for a few hours to review their script to make sure that the pre-production phase has been properly executed. If we have to scramble to cover up flaws that haven't been considered earlier, it just makes things more difficult, and the results can suffer. So especially for the first time out, when it really counts, just make sure that you hire professionals to do the work that you aren't trained to perform. Just take good notes and perhaps you can produce your next video yourself. Or at least handle some of the responsibilities.

Best of luck with your production. With proper planning and a competent team you'll achieve your goals. Now read on to the article entitled "Video Production – Part III - Post Production & Editing”.

To get help with your next video production project, contact the author through their website at

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