Pro-Tips for Production: A checklist to help you on the day of your video shoot
If you are NEW to a marketing or training role and you need to make a professional video, then this blog post is for you. This is part three in a four-part series designed to help you make your first video production.
Part 1 – What Should I Do First?
Write a creative brief, identify roles, and understand the phases of production
Part 2 – Pro-Tips for Pre-production
A checklist for successful video pre-production
Part 3 – Pro-Tips for Production
A checklist to help you on the day of your video shoot
Part 4 – Pro-Tips for Post-production
A checklist to ensure your edited video is on-message and looks great too
If you haven’t written a creative brief, assigned production roles, or if the phases of production are a mystery to you, please consider reviewing Part 1 of this series: What should I do first?
Looking for a checklist of things to do during pre-production? Check out Part 2 – Pro-Tips for Pre-production with a checklist for a successful video pre-production.
Part 3: Pro-tips for Production
The production phase of creating a video is when you record the raw footage that will be edited into your final piece. Depending on your project, production may also include taking photos, recording voice over narration, selecting music, and making graphics. Use the guide below to help you on the day of a video shoot.
Click to download the PRODUCTION CHECKLIST!
Show up early and prepared
On the day of your shoot, get there first and be prepared. Everyone is counting on you to lead the plan you put together during pre-production.
- Have extra copies of the script, shot list, and call sheet.
- Even if the shoot is indoors, confirm the weather report for the day to make sure it won’t negatively impact your schedule.
- Check to see if traffic may affect the arrival of your crew, talent, or your contact at the first location.
Respect the location
Kindness goes a long way in the video world. Always ask for permission and be apologetic if you interfere with someone’s work day. Take care to not block important walkways or create tripping hazards with your gear. Leave no trace! Clean up after you finish shooting so that it looks as if you were never there.
Have a makeup kit on hand
Always have a makeup kit packed with powder, cover-up, comb/brush, hairspray, scissors, and nail clippers. HD videography highlights the tiniest of flaws. Be ready for a quick fix by having a few beauty and grooming items on hand.
Have all props organized and ready
Organizing props for a shoot is easy if you’re bringing them all yourself. But when you are relying on a contact at a location, or your hired crew, please make two phone calls:
- Call your contact at the location the day before and go through the list of items you’ll need on the day of the shoot. For example, you may need access to a certain room or a login to a computer.
- Call your crew the day before and talk through props so that there are no surprises. You are paying people to make a video, not stand around and wait for someone to find a prop or open a room.
Collaborate with your DP
Early and often, talk with your DP to make sure you get the shots the way you want them. The DP, Director of Photography, is typically the person operating the main camera on a business video shoot. This person is responsible for making decisions about the positioning of your subject, the lighting of each scene, and any camera movement.
A good DP will not expect you to be a walking lexicon of film school terminology. However, I suggest learning a few basic terms beyond wide shot, medium, and closeup so that you can effectively describe what you are looking to create. The Glossary of Common Video Terms on Vimeo’s Video School is a good introduction. If you’d like to challenge yourself, consider doing a quizlet on 72 production words.
Make sure the lighting is professional
Pay close attention to how the lighting creates shadows and highlights on your subject. The shadows should have soft edges and the light should not be too bright (hot) on the subject. Lighting is one of five things that separates amateur from professional video. If you are not using a professional crew, I suggest learning and practicing before the shoot day. Start by watching How to Set Up 3-Point Lighting by Grover Austin from Full Sail University. Also, check out the #1 on YouTube Lighting tutorial from Steven DiCasa.
Verify that the audio gathering is professional
ALWAYS monitor the audio you are recording. Designate a person to listen with a pair of headphones, to make sure the quality is consistent and that your mic is not picking up unwanted sounds. In a business video, good audio is just as important as the lighting.
Gather audio through your prosumer or professional camera by way of an XLR cable plugged into a shotgun microphone. If gathering audio through your camera is not an option, use a field recorder such as Zoom H4N attached to a Sennheiser shotgun microphone. You can also use a lavalier microphone if the environment is noisy, but I like the results from a shotgun mic because there is less chance to hear clothes rustling.
Pay close attention to where you put the microphone. A shotgun mic must be pointed right at the mouth of the person you are recording.
For more information on audio gathering (during video recording), check out Izzy Video’s Three Keys to Great Audio. In 7 minutes, Izzy will show you the importance of equipment, placement, and monitoring.
Stay on schedule
At the end of pre-production, you should have sent a call sheet to everyone on the production team. Your job as producer is to keep everyone moving toward the deadlines you laid out in the suggested schedule. Whether it’s on your wrist or your phone, pay close attention to the time. Two points are critical: mealtime and end-of-day (EOD). A fed crew is a happy crew. A little sustenance goes a long way toward a solid day of production. As for EOD, it’s important to know what happens if you work past a full day of shooting (10 hours). Typically, a video crew will charge time-and-a-half for overtime.
Make sure you are recording
The DP and the director should verify that the camera is recording. The DP should confirm that the timecode is counting up and the red light is on, which indicates that the camera is recording. The director should check the video monitor to make sure that he or she also sees the timecode counting up and that the red circle appears on the monitor.
This may seem like a lot of words for the most obvious of production tips, but take it from a professional who has experienced the pain of missing a shot because two people didn’t verify that the camera was recording.
Mark up the script and check off the shot list
As you record video, actively mark up the script and shot list to help your editor in the post-production phase. If the copy changes during production, write it down and cross out the old copy. If there are multiple takes, make a note of which one is the best. If possible, try to denote the timecode where the talent said the line perfectly. Along with marking up the script, check off each shot on the shot list. Give a copy of your marked-up script to the editor along with the video files.
Back up your assets immediately
After you capture the video, back up your files to at least two locations. I recommend putting the video files on a portable hard drive and the local hard drive of the computer used for editing. I go one step further and use our server as a third backup location. With three locations, I always have a master copy.
Do you think three backup locations is overkill?
Remember that the video files are computer data, and computers will fail. I have had portable hard drives and local hard drives fail, and I’ve had servers fail. However, I’ve never had more than one fail during a single project.
At the conclusion of the Production phase, your team should have:
- Video assets (backed up in 2-3 locations)
- Script (with markup and any edited copy)
- Already-made assets gathered in pre-production (logos, photos, etc.)
Up next, “Pro-Tips for post-production” which includes a checklist to ensure your video is on-message and looks great too.
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