Do you wish your insane video production shoot ran more like a well-oiled machine? If you answered this question with a resounding "yes," than you will want to read more.
On a frosty fall morning, we wrestled with our cameras as we propped them on our tripods and began our first foray into creating an episodic series for distribution as web television. Meanwhile, our assistant director, production assistant, other crew members and actors fumbled with their scripts as they patiently waited for our next line of direction.
Today, we offer three unexpected lessons that we learned from producing webisodes on that frosty autumn morning. These are lessons that have forever changed the way we approach making effective videos.
Video Production Tip #1: Keep Every Performance Fresh
While we were shooting our webisodes, one of the actors noticed a weak performance and remarked that we could always “fix” it during the edit. It was if the actor perceived that the editing room was a fairy tale setting where anything magical can occur with just a snap of the fairy god mother’s fingers. Yes. It’s true that the editing room is a place where story unfolds, dialogue is weaved together, music is scored and special effects are added for spectacular finishing touches. It’s also true that the editing room is the place where the producer’s greatest dreams or worst nightmares will begin depending on how well the project was produced.
So, before you even hit the record button, inform your actors that the editor is not a magician and that every performance that they deliver in front of the camera must captivate the audience.
Remind them that the editor can only work with the material that he or she is given. If the actor’s technical skills or creative rendition is not up to par, the editor and/or producer may have no other choice but to cut out their performance from the final project for professional and financial reasons.
Use physical exercises to help your actor maintain stamina throughout the production. Creating a video or film often entails long hours. Cameras need to be properly positioned on the set. Lights have to be fixed in just the right position. Scripts are often revised several times. Meanwhile, actors wait around all day for the director to call “action.” All of these aspects of production take an extraordinary amount of time and can be taxing on everyone.
Try breaking the monotony of the production routine by instructing the actors to run around the block, jog in place, do jumping jacks or some other physical activity that won’t break your bank or break your actors back. Physical exercise will ensure that your actors stay alert to your direction, maintain their energy in the scene, and stay focused on the script. If nothing else at all, it will also keep your actors fit as they nimble on the food at the crafts table.
Use imaginative games to keep your actor mentally engaged and to spark their creativity. Acting games can be fun, challenging and rewarding for actors. Acting games can also solve problems that your actors are having in a scene with their character’s motivation, purpose, and objective. From charades to putting a new spin on nursery rhymes, always keep a handful of games in mind that can use to stimulate your actors mind and keep their performance from falling flat in a scene.
Video Production Tip #2: Silence on the Set
Tell your cast and crew that when you say "standby" you want them get settled into their places. Tell them "standby" also means that you want them to avoid talking and to refrain from reacting to a performance unless they are acting in a scene or you have called "cut."
This means no talking, no whispering, no burping and no farting. Notify your cast and crew that when you say "rolling," the camera and audio are recording.
Advise your cast and crew that when you say "action" that is the cue for the actors to perform and the crew to carry out their assigned responsibilities. The actors who are acting in the scene must continue to perform, while the crew who are busy behind the scenes must proceed with their duties until the director says "cut" or says "that’s a wrap" because filming is complete.
Maintaining a quiet set may seem rudimentary, but it is a skill that the producer may easily overlook when in the throes of a hectic production shoot. Silence on the set is golden. If you take the extra precautions listed above you will ensure that unnecessary noises, distracting sounds or inappropriate discussions do not end up in your final project and wreak havoc on your artistic expression.
Video Production Tip #3: Maintain Updated Scripts and Editing Logs
It is critical that you review and log your footage immediately after filming each day. This will guarantee that you have obtained all the camera shots and audio necessary to complete the video production.
However, don’t just update your editing log every day. Update your production script daily as well.
One simple way to keep your production script current is to include visuals of the key scenes that have been filmed. Scour your footage for central moments in the plot, create thumbnail images of these pivotal scenes and then, insert these thumbnail images into a PDF version of your production script. Within the margins of your script or in captions located directly under your thumbnail, give the thumbnail image a name, a brief description of the action and add any additional comments.
When you later edit your video, you can utilize both your updated editing log and production script to help you keep track of your countless shots and easily locate an obscure scenes.
A production team that operates smoothly is critical to the success of a video.
Strategically cultivating solid performances from actors, spotting continuity errors, and paying proper attention to wardrobe details will assist you with crafting a better story for your video and for your audience.
Effective video production, like anything else, takes practice and practice makes perfect. If you follow the 3 fundamental tips mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to having your own successful video production.
You can find more great video production tips here or on our blog page.