Planning the Shoot

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Planning the Digital Video Shoot

Start Up Questions

What will the purpose of the digital video product be and what audience(s) will it be of interest to?

Walk stakeholders (author, marketing department, press or university leadership, etc.) through articulating the purpose and audience they're after to reduce surprises during the shoot and to optimize the raw footage captured.

Example 1: If purpose is to communicate research findings to a client and their constituencies, one would look to plan for shots and opportunities to leverage the storytelling abilities of the digital video including, potentially, modeling and animation in the presentation.

What equipment do you need on the shoot?

Knowing the purpose of the video will also help you plan for special equipment you may need. Maybe you'll need several cameras to catch one-of-a-kind actions from multiple angles or to prevent the action from becoming overly monotonous. Walk stakeholders through the purpose they're after to reduce surprises during the shoot and to optimize the raw footage captured.

Scout Out the Location

Physically visit the location where you'll be shooting at the time the shoot will take place, if possible, to evaluate what challenges it may pose, such as:

  • Travel challenges and travel time
  • Practical and ambient location-based lighting
  • Ambient noise
  • Echo
  • Power availability
  • Parking (for crew and participants)
  • Ease of access
  • Basics-restrooms, food, water
  • Divide the main location as needed into specific, "sub-locations," such as the various rooms where sessions at a conference will take place.

Develop a Script

What to shoot is mapped out in the script-the blueprint for the production. Here are the components:

  • The Shot List

Begin with a comprehensive list of everything you want to see and hear in the digital video. This list will eventually become a shot list, but you have to hone it a bit before it becomes final.

  • The Shooting Schedule

You then break the comprehensive shot list down into locations and a shooting schedule. When creating a shooting schedule, you have to take into account a number of parameters that will help you create the most efficient schedule that will save you time and money and enable capture of the best raw footage possible.

Prioritize the Shooting

Prioritize your schedule around the elements that are hardest to capture to easiest to capture, such as expensive or hard-to-get locations or expensive or hard-to-get speakers before filling out the rest of the schedule. This prioritizing doesn't mean they will necessarily be the first shots captured, just the first to be nailed down and scheduled.

Consolidate and combine as much as possible shoots involving more flexible elements-locations, speaker-participants, and so forth-to maximize efficiency and keep shoot days to a minimum.

Mitigate Fatal Failures

If possible, have a back-up plan for shooting other, more flexible matter should the primary location of speaker-participant fail to be available the day of their scheduled shoot for some unforeseen reason (which may be quite probable given the many variables involved with executing a shoot, such as weather, traffic, illness, and budget to name just a few).

Always schedule any needed exterior shoots toward the beginning of your schedule, so if it rains or there is a sand storm, for instance, you can grab this footage later.

Check the Calendar

You also have to take into consideration any challenges or requirements resulting from the time of day, time of year, special events or religious holidays, special equipment, special effects, and other one-of-a-kind problems. Aim to plan the shortest shoot schedule possible, especially if you have to rent equipment and pay crews and actors.

Budget tip: Consider shooting on the weekend

Renting equipment on the weekends gives you three days of use for the price of one, which can be very economical for conference held over the weekend.

Hone the Shot List

Once you have your schedule, hone your shot list to make it as efficient and effective as possible.

1. Double check that you have accounted for all of the coverage you will need for each shot. Coverage includes all of the different angles and shot sizes you may want of each action as well as cutaways, inserts, and transitions.

2. Be sure to plan for cutaway shots and transitions to help make for smooth seamless editing.

3. Be specific. The more exact your shot list, the easier it will be when you get on location.

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