Producing – Tips for the Video Shoot

Tips for the Video ShootThis document is designed to help you prepare for your day of video shooting.

Checklist for what to bring:

There are a number of things you should consider bringing with you on shooting day. It never hurts to be over prepared. Below are some of the items you will need for shooting:

  • Camera
  • Tripod (if you have one)
  • Extra camera batteries/charger
  • Extension cord (if applicable)
  • Microphone for sound recording (if external to the camera)
  • Headphones for listening to sound while recording
  • Storyboard and/or camera shot list
  • Extra scripts
  • Wardrobe and props list…along with the wardrobe and props
  • Make-up, as necessary
  • Directions to the location and key contact cell numbers
  • Ponchos – to protect the gear (and yourselves) in case of inclement weather. They can also be used to provide shading for a shot.

The Shoot – a few pointers to consider

  • Use a tripod. If you don’t have one, stable yourself with a wall or sit and prop your elbows on your knees. This is to provide your shot with stability.
  • Check the sound. Shoot the first 30 seconds of your scene, then watch and listen to the playback as a group. If the actors are hard to hear or if there is excessive background noise, consider changing location or using an external microphone (i.e. one that is not attached to the camera).
    • Never shoot near a highway or place where there are lots of cars or overhead planes.
    • Be aware of really windy days. The camera will record the wind and drown out the actor’s voice.
    • Shot List – Have your camera shot list fully prepared ahead of time. A camera shot list is a written document of the frame sizes (close-up, medium or long), angles, and camera movements in each scene. If you have the shot list, you know that you won’t forget a shot.
    • Short Shots – Keep the shots short. In most video productions, there are the one-second shot and the five-second shot, and everything in between.  But there are not many shots that run more than five seconds before there is an edit. Short shots are interesting, add pacing and keep the audience engaged. To best understand this, watch any television series or format (i.e. commercial) and see how may edits there are in a minute.
    • Rehearsals – Rehearse the scene a few times. Feel free to roll the camera during rehearsals (don’t tell your actors) because those may be your best takes.
    • Slate – You know when the Assistant Director or Stage Manager yells, ‘Poe Murder Scene, Take 3!’ and they slam down a slate bar?   Do you know why they do that? To make the editing easier. So, during the shoot, mark the best takes down on a piece of paper. Then when you are editing, you can go right to the best takes and not waste time going through your entire shoot day…again!
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