Continuing from where we left off in the last post, in which we were discussing the 3 different stages of a video production, let’s discuss now the second stage: Production.
After you have everything ready, like scripts, equipment, location (studio booked), actors, etc., it is time to go on location and film your videos. Depending on the type of video, if it’s very dynamic, or like in our case, a more straight-forward video, you may need to secure your location (whether is rented or owned) for several days, hopefully days in a row. I would suggest having at least one day at the end of the production in case you need to re-record any of the scenes, for example, in our case we weren’t sure that with only 2 days in studio that we would be able to get all of the shooting done and get through the whole script, so, we secured the studio for a 3rd day in case we needed to re-record some shots after reviewing all the footage and ensuring it would work in the eLearning course.
For the first day, in our case, we needed to set up all the lights, make tests with both video and audio, and put everything in place, so we asked the actors to get to the location 3 hours after our arrival, that way, we would only need to make small adjustments to lights and camera angles so that they match height of our actors (or hosts). After that’s done, we can start shooting.
Since the cameras (or at least the camera we were using) use SD cards, it is recommended to have at least a couple of SD cards so that you can switch them and keep filming while the at the same time dumping all the footage in your computer. But it also depends on the case or type of video, so just play it by ear. For example, in our case, the computer was also being used to run the teleprompter, so copying files and filming wasn’t really an option for us but having that extra gave us the confidence that we would still be able to continue filming even if we didn’t have a computer, at least for one day.
In retrospect, all the footage we recorded, was approximately 24GB in size, so even with only one 64GB SD card, would have been enough.
Speaking of teleprompters, make sure prior to shooting the videos, that all your scripts are in teleprompter format, meaning that, depending on the software you are using, you have to convert it to that software’s format and make sure no strange character appear throughout the script, that can confuse the actors. In our case, we converted the script from Microsoft Word, to plain text, to remove all formatting, and then to the teleprompter format. This was the best way to go, since the software we use, doesn’t recognize special characters when pasting the text from Word, characters like apostrophes, or bullets are converted to something unreadable. Another useful thing we did was, since we had 2 actors on screen, was to color-code the text for each actor in the teleprompter software, that way they could easily identify when they had to read the text.
Now, running a teleprompter may sound easy, and even though it’s not complicated, it needs special attention from the person running it. Why? Keep in mind that people read at different speeds, so you need to constantly adjust the speed at which the teleprompter is scrolling through the lines of the script. If you feel that there are parts where the actor is reading a bit slower, you can decrease the speed, and then pick it up once the actor is reading a bit faster.
When working with the camera, before each shot make sure you get the focus correctly. You can set that on the lens of the camera to be Autofocused or Manually focused. I would recommend the latter (from my experience) since you can get the focus on the actors exactly right and it won’t vary unless you decide to change it, or the camera or actors drastically move. Autofocus may be of some use, but sometimes if you check the footage afterwards, you will notice how the focus changes depending on the movement of the actor, resulting on a very unstable shot.
Last but not least, it is very useful to have a table in which you can track the progress of your overall production. The table we use, normally has the scene number, if the audio and video has been recorded, and any special notes, like the take to use during editing. Following all of these steps, will help to ensure you have a successful video shoot when either shooting corporate training videos or creating videos in studio, for eLearning courses.
A few photos from our most recent video production.
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