Lights! Camera! Action!
If producing high quality videos was simple, everybody would do it. Honestly even that simple phrase is extremely complicated. For example - what lights should we be using? How many lights? And what lighting modifiers? What camera makes sense for this shoot? What lens are we using for this particular shot? What stabilizers do we need to use to match the style we're going for?
These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that we must ask ourselves before going on-set. In a fantasy land, we could just point a camera at our subject and everything would turn out looking amazing. However that's just not how it works on planet Earth in the year 2016.
Video production is more than just a job- its a way of life. Professionals in the video industry view daily phenomenons such as lighting and audio completely different, because they directly affect the results of our job. Through continuous investment in equipment and education, we are able to provide our clients with premiere video services that achieve the very best marketing results.
Principal photography is the phase of the filmmaking process in which we film the video, with actors on set and cameras rolling. The principal photography phase makes up the shortest, but most intense, portion of the overall video production process. In this article we will teach you some of the key factors to think about when on set, and how they can affect your end-product.
1. Arrive. Load. Build.
You should never expect your video production team to arrive ready to shoot. There is a detailed process involved with getting everything ready to shoot. Setting up for production is much more involved than simply putting the camera onto a tripod. Your video team will arrive on-site at least 90 minutes before it is time to roll the cameras. During this 90 minutes, the video team will be taking the necessary steps to get all of the production equipment ready to go.
Our team arrives with various cameras, lenses, stabilizers, lighting, power, & audio equipment. Each type of equipment requires time for set-up and must be also be tested before being used on set. Each of these items play an essential role on set.
2. Cameras & Lenses
When you think about video equipment, the first thing that comes to mind is obvious - the cameras. Our cameras contain high-quality sensors and provide us with the flexibility needed for any shoot. Now-a-days many users are expecting 4K image resolution, along with high-definition slow-motion. Delivering the highest-quality, cutting edge video quality is simply not possible when shooting with a low-grade camera or attempting a DIY solution such as using your iPhone for production. Professional video cameras are extremely intensive and require experience and expertise in order to get the best out of each and every shot.
Lenses are the glass mechanism that attaches to the camera body. Lenses are responsible for the sharpness and depth of field created in each shot. We shoot with only the highest-quality lenses in order to provide our clients with the most cinematic and professional looks. Lenses can be easily swapped during production, and you should expect to see this occur throughout each production as different scenarios are filmed. Certain lenses allow us to zoom, while others are fixed, or 'prime'. Each lens has a different focal length, which allows us to easily change-up whether a shot is wide, medium, or close-up without having to move the camera's location drastically.
The most common form of a stabilizer is a tripod. Literally everyone knows what a tripod does, and is the easiest way to attain a clean, 'wiggle-free' shot. However innovations in technology have put more dynamic equipment in the hands of video producers and film-makers. Here are some examples.
- Drone - Everyone in the film-making world (and the consumer world for that matter) is talking about the drone. This flying stabilizer allows video producers to obtain shots that were once only attainable through expensive helicopter rentals and aerial permits. Now that these devices have become readily available for film-makers, we are able to capture dynamic aerial HD footage simply by standing in one location, while operating a remote control. So cool. We have used drones during production on many occasions - including over construction sites, office parks, and rivers.
- Gimbal- Another technological wonder (aka 'toy') that producers are falling in love with is the gimbal. This piece of equipment is a new-age version of a 'SteadiCam', which allows for extremely stable footage while walking through three-dimensional space. Gimbals take time to build and balance, but once it is operating- it is an extremely flexible tool that drastically increases the production value of the footage.
- Slider- Sometimes you wouldn't know the impact of a stabilizer until you see it on screen. A slider is a tool that looks simple in real-life, but creates an extremely dynamic look. This simple tool moves the camera consistently along a horizontal plane - think of it as a miniature, straight dolly. This tool can be great for reveals, easing-in (or out), along with providing a more dynamic look to otherwise static footage.
Out of all of the different aspects of production, lighting is probably the toughest for clients to understand. Lighting is a very complex subject matter (on many Hollywood sets, the lighting and grip team is the largest). Simply speaking, every shot should have some sort of light modification to truly be considered a professional production. This can be as simple as using white bounceboard to reflect natural light when shooting outdoors, or as complicated as blocking every window and lighting an entire scene from scratch. Adding light to the subject allows us to differentiate the subject from the background and achieve a more professional, cinematic look.
There are many aspects of lighting - color temperature, strength, direction, diffusion and more. By using all of these different modifying aspects, we are able to manipulate light and use it to our advantage. Small tips, like remembering that the sun is a different color than your lightbulbs in your office, will help prevent your employees from looking like 'two-face' on camera. Needless to say, it's always critical to have the ability (and time) to control the lighting situation as much as possible.
Capturing great audio may actually be more important than great video. While mistakes in video can usually be smoothed over or 'fixed in post', it is nearly impossible to fix jacked-up audio in post. This is why we will always make as many minor tweaks as needed in order to capture the best possible audio on-site. We will bring out several professional grade microphones to make sure that we can capture the best audio, no matter the recording situation.
The most important factor when recording audio is the room that you are recording in. Ideally, we want to record in a space that contains no echo, as this will be heard loud and clear in the final video. It's also crucial to cut out as much background noise as possible. Whether it is a refridgerator, an air conditioning unit, or people talking in the hallway - all of this will ultimately be heard in the background of the audio track. Similar to lighting, we can control sound by utilizing sound-proofing barriers or thick mobile quilts to improve audio recording in any room.
Video production is an extremely detailed-oriented process, but you should now have a better understanding of what to expect come shoot-day.
Some clients want to have control of entire situation, but most times it is best to trust your production team to handle the job. If you've made it this far, that means you've also successfully completed the pre-production process. The pre-production process takes care of the extraneous details so that come shoot-day, everyone knows exactly what we are trying to accomplish.
Now that you understand the process, sounds easy - right? Wrong! It truly takes a dedicated and professional video team to achieve the results you are looking for. At Consume Media, we have more than a decade of experience producing videos for brands just like yours. We have heavily invested in modern production equipment, and have the experience to take your production to the next level. If you want to learn more about how Consume Media can help you on your video marketing journey, click the jolly green button below.