Since I started at SPR, the amount of video projects we’ve taken on has grown substantially. It’s rare to have a week go by where we don’t have a video shoot scheduled – even during the pandemic. From talking heads and interview-style to run-and-gun and Zoom videos, I’ve had the chance to be involved in a wide variety of projects over a range of industries
It’s been incredibly fun and rewarding to help grow our video offerings, and I’ve learned my fair share of lessons along the way. Some lessons were learned from others and some were learned the hard way. Regardless of how I picked up these tips, I always keep them in my back pocket for every video shoot small or large.
Following are five lessons I’ve learned from video shoots.
Learn about the location beforehand
Learning as much as you can about a shooting location helps avoid surprises and forces you to plan ahead. If possible, try to schedule a short visit ahead of time to scout your shooting location. If you are unable to visit the location beforehand, ask your contact to send photos of each angle of the space and schedule a call to ask follow-up questions.
Here are a few details to ask about before arriving at any shooting location:
- Noise – Ask if there is any external noise that could disrupt your video, such as noisy air conditioning units, foot traffic and dinging elevators.
- Lighting – Ask what kind of lighting is on-site. Determining how much natural and artificial lighting is available will help you decide how much equipment you need to bring.
- Power – If you are shooting outside, ask if there is a power outlet nearby. If there isn’t an outlet, be sure you pack more than enough battery supplies.
- Things to avoid – Ask if there is anything that can’t be included in the video. This will ensure you won’t have to throw away footage because it has something off-limits in the background.
Last-minute obstacles are always a possibility, but knowing these details will cover most of your bases before you arrive on-site.
Bring backup equipment
It’s incredible what video equipment can do these days, but let’s face it: Technology fails from time to time. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a shoot and discovering your microphone is malfunctioning or your SD card is corrupted.
It’s always wise to bring backups – even if it means you have to haul in more equipment to the shooting location. Taking the time and spending the resources to bring backup equipment far outweighs the feeling that comes with telling a client you have to redo a shoot due to a technology malfunction. Plus, having backup equipment gives you additional peace of mind while you’re shooting.
Don’t rely on fixing things in post
“We’ll fix it in post” is not only one of the most commonly used phrases in videography, but it is also one of the most frustrating. Sure, there are some things you can fix in post, but certainly not everything – especially when it comes to video. Shooting a video isn’t the same as writing – in most cases, you have one shot to properly capture moments and can’t press Command+Z like a Word doc.
It’s always better to redo a scene to get the desired result instead of relying on editing. Even though this can take more time or cause a headache for the talent, it’s always worth it to get things right in-camera.
Plan on additional time to set up
Always add more time than you think for setup. By giving yourself a little extra wiggle room, you will avoid making mistakes and not completing setup before the shooting is scheduled to begin.
Plus, if you complete your setup early, you can use the extra time to send emails, make a phone call or shoot some test footage.
Don’t be afraid to coach
Even though it can be awkward, take the time to coach your talent before the cameras role. It’s your job to make your vision come to life and help the talent look the best they can. This means you have to establish a clear list of do’s and don’ts.
Here are a few coaching tips to get you started:
- Posture – If shooting an interview, make sure the talent stays still, keeps eye contact with the interviewer and sits up straight.
- Ums – Remind the talent to avoid “ums” and “ahs.” This will help the talent look as professional and articulate as possible.
- Appearance – Help the talent fix stray hairs, wrinkled clothing and off-center ties.
Whether you’re a first-timer or a video veteran, I hope you can use these tips next time you’re behind a camera. What are some lessons you’ve learned from your video shoots?