4B Video Production Process Part 2:
Production – Lights, Camera, Action.
Production – Lights, Camera, Action.
A Guide to Everything You Need to Know to Get the Most From Your Video Marketing
It’s Production Time!
This phase of the corporate video production process is the one that gets people on the client side (perhaps you?) the most excited!
Being on location with the bright lights and equipment, seeing the crew working as a well-oiled machine can be pretty exciting -I think it’s partly because we’ve been brought up on Hollywood magic and partly because – well it’s a lot of fun when things are going right!
But it can also be daunting especially if you are to appear in front of the camera…
…But never fear, we’re he to help
In this instalment we’re going to look at what happens on a film shoot, introduce you to a typical crew, and the equipment that they use. We’ll offer some suggestions on how you can make the most out of being on set and being on camera – and a whole bunch more!
Part 01: Table of Contents:
Each part of the guide has it’s own table of contents so you can get the info you want quickly and easily!
Who’s on a Video Crew ?
If you’ve ever stuck around to watch after the end of a film and looked at the credits you will have noticed that it takes a load of people to make a feature film – and depending on the complexity of a corporate video production process it can also involve a lot of people – especially if you are getting a Television Commercial (TVC) created by a big name Advertising Agency.
But thanks to modern technology crew sizes can vary dramatically – from a single Producer/Camera Operator who performs all the roles – to the afore mentioned full blown Agency TVC.
For most businesses using a local video production company you should expect to have a crew between 2 – 14 people not including cast.
At Rockmans Creative Media – we believe in keeping things as simple as they are needed for the style of production, as a result most of our shoots will consist of a Director, Camera Operator and Camera Assistant as well as all the equipment needed to capture the required interviews, presentations and visuals.
The equipment typically used are HD camera kits, 35mm lens kits, lighting kits, wireless and shotgun radio mics, monitors, camera cranes and dollies & tracks.
To find out about some of the key bits of equipment that can make all the difference check out our Video Tips and Tricks Vlogs here!
But a crew of 3 is not going to be a very good example of full blown production is it?
So for this example we’re going to look at a production that has 14 crew, that way you can get to know the most common crew members.
If the video shoot was a restaurant, then the producer would be the restaurant manager.
The Producer is in charge of the overall production, it’s their job to make sure everything fits into the big picture and the overall objective.
The producer will call all the shots except for those of the Director.
(but may even over rule the Director if they feel it’s needed).
If the video shoot was a restaurant the Director would be the Executive/Head Chef.
For the duration of the shoot the Director is in charge. It is their responsibility for the look and the performance that get’s captured on video.
The Director is all about the creative aspect of the production, from start to finish, although these days in smaller budget productions a Directors role may start and end with the shoot, with the creative all round elements of the production being picked up by the Producer, or the Producer may take on the role of the Director entirely.
The Director will be the main person speaking on set and will control the flow of communication, especially when it comes to addressing those performing in front of the camera – this is important because it can be very distracting and stressful if you have people telling you what to do from all angles, and almost always hurts the performance.
DOP / Camera Operator :
The difference between a Director of Photography (DOP) and a Camera Operator is one principally of experience and skill.
The key to all photography, still, film and videography comes down to the ability to manipulate and capture light.
A Camera Operator should know how to set up and operate the camera (including lens selection) and have some skill in shooting (camera movement) and composition (framing). They will know how to capture good shots in many different lighting conditions.
A DOP will have also studied light and colour theory, they understand the relationship between the light at their disposal and the camera that they are using to capture beautiful images.
Sound Recordist :
The Sound Recordist is all about capturing the sound.
They will have various types of microphones at their disposal, the most common 2 being the wireless lapel mike and the boom mike.
They may also have various frames with sound baffles in order to get a clear sound signal or remove reverb (echo). The Sound Recordist’s job is often thankless – they’re the one’s who pop up after an awesome take (performance) and say “sorry a plane went overhead!”
If the sound recordist is doing their job you won’t notice it – but if they stuff up it can ruin the video, bad audio is hard to fix.
The saying goes: Audio is 10% of the production and 90% of the problem.
Production Manager :
We introduced the Production Manager in the last instalment.
They are the Wedding Planner of the Film shoot – they are the masters of the schedule, they know who should be doing what, where when and why.
Cross the Production Manager at your own peril! (a friendly warning).
Officially the Gaffer is the head electrician as it takes quite a lot of technical skill to master the control, manipulation and safety of complex lighting designs.
In most cases the Gaffer is the Lighting Director, they are in charge of the setting up and control of the lights – they may take direction of the light placement from the DOP, depending on the creative arrangement.
The term Gaffer harkens back to film days when they would use a specialised piece of equipment to move the overhead lights called a Gaff.
Lighting Assistant / Grip :
Wrongly sometimes called the best boy, the Lighting Assistant is there to assist the Lighting Director in any way it can.
A grip’s job is to take care in the setting up and use of the camera equipment that helps the camera move (such as dolly’s, jibs, cranes and tracks).
In smaller shoots these roles are often combined – you may even see the grip holding the boom mike for the sound recordist.
Camera Assistant / Focus Puller :
The Camera Assistant is the Camera Operators right hand person.
They are there to assist the DOP in any way needed.
A focus puller is a specialist role, when the camera is capturing a complicated shot using a lot of movement and/or zoom, the focus puller role is to control the focus making sure that the camera focuses on the correct objects in shot.
Production Assistant (PA) :
Normally assistant to the Producer.
The Production Assistant will be the runner of set, doing whatever is needed, from liaising between crews, meeting and greeting cast and getting refreshments.
Continuity Supervisor / Script Supervisor :
This member of the crew has the responsibility to make sure that all elements of the script are faithfully and accurately captured and nothing is left out.
They will often do most of the admin work on set for the Director and Video Editor/s, keeping track of the takes and making notes about the best ones.
They are also in charge of a concept called continuity; in a nutshell this is everything that goes into keeping the integrity of the video intact.
Make-Up Artist :
The lights in front of a camera get hot, and people sweat, and become quite shiny.
The Make-up Artist is the casts best friend, they are there to make you look the best you can be – but be warned gentlemen it may mean putting on some eyeliner and mascara!
Art Director / Costume Designer / Set Designer / Props Supervisor :
This is actually 3 roles that we’ve rolled into one for convenience sake.
The Art Director is in charge of everything that goes into the overall look of the shot, so in a bigger shoot would be in charge of the costume and set designer.
The other two are as they sound, although don’t be mistaken, a Costume Designer doesn’t just make clothes, they act as clothes stylists too.
Smaller shoots may have someone who’s role it is to take care of all of these and whatever props are needed as well.
Video Editor :
In the past you would very rarely see a Video Editor outside of the edit suite (also known as their cave).
But thanks to modern tech, the Video Editor is increasingly seen on the shoot.
Shortly after the camera has recorded the shots they will add these to the video editing project to review them and where possible do a rough cut, so that the Director, DOP and Producer can make decisions on any adjustments to the shoot.
They sometimes are used to quickly add low res versions of any special effects so the shots can be assessed as successful or not as soon as possible.
Having a Video Editor on set can also dramatically speed up the turnaround time for completion of a video if urgency is a factor.
The Runner :
The runner is one of the hardest workers on set, and as the name suggests, pretty much all of the tasks that a runner has to do is urgent – they are the general dogs body and will do whatever needs to be done, from grab coffees to lend a hand setting up to being a human messenger.
And as a bonus we present to you the extra member of the crew!
Dude Who Seems to Just Hang Around :
There seems to always be one of these in every corporate video production process, this guy or girl, seems enthusiastic – you can tell because they nod their head and smile a lot.
But they don’t seem to be doing much except watching and occasionally getting in the way.
This could be an intern who hasn’t found their feet yet, a work experience kid, or the make up artist’s nephew, who knows?
But you can probably bet that they know less about what’s going on than you do!
What Happens During a Video Shoot ?
The following is a simple summary of what you might experience on a shoot using the above crew.
Please remember that every shoot is different, and many Video Production companies have their own special way doing things – but the elements in this summary below will give you a good feel for what kind of thing to expect.
Setting Up and Getting Ready.
Unless there is professional catering being contracted (those cats start early!), the principal crew will often be on location first – consisting of at least the Camera Operator or D.O.P (Director of Photography), Camera Assist and the Director or Producer, they will set up the lights (if needed) and the camera for the first scene. If the shot consists of a specially created backdrops or sets then
any of the Art Director /Costume Designer/ Set Designer/Props people may also be there to make sure the set is ready to go.
Often times there will be a discussion between the Producer, the Director and the Camera Operator going over the objectives and summarising what may be needed for the rest of the day.
Around the same time the Make-up Artist will arrive and set up somewhere nearby with good light.
The first few people to be filmed will also be turning up so that the Make-up Artist can do their magic.
If the cast members have a specific costume or props that will be seen on different days, scenes or camera set ups, then the continuity supervisor will take some digital photos to keep a record so it can be referred to the next time the costume is needed.
If the shoot is happening on your company’s premises, perhaps in the board room, the Production Manager and Production Assistant will probably be liaising with whoever is in charge of making sure that the crew can get in and do their work with the minimum of fuss.
As each cast member and client turns up, someone will be assigned to brief them on what to expect, It’s normally the production assistant but could also be an account Director/manger or another member of the crew.
The Production Assistant is a good person to make friends with and will probably also be the person to ask any questions you may have during the shoot.
The reason for this is that having too many people talking to the Producer, Director and or the cast during shooting can be quite disruptive and frustrating for the person in front of the camera as they try and get feedback and follow direction.
If you have any concerns during the shoot about what is going on voice them to the Production Assistant or even the Producer if they do not seem actively engaged. After all your input is still important, especially if your input is directly related to how your company is being represented
e.g.: mispronounced words, straying too far from the company message etc.
The Video Recording Process.
When everything is in position, the lighting is right, the microphones are set up, and the camera is in position, the Presenter/s will be asked to take their positions.
The Director will explain what will be filmed and give those in front of the camera a simple easy brief
– often asking if there are any questions and if everything is clear. Once everyone is on the same page you will hear something like;
“Quiet on the set!” – This is to let everyone know that all conversations are to end or to take them outside.
“Sound?” – the Director is checking that Sound Recordist is ready to attenuate the audio as it’s captured.
The Sound Recordist will check the sound levels via their equipment and their headphones.
“Sound clear!” or “Yep sound OK!” – The OK signal from the sound recordist.
“Camera?” – Here the Director makes sure that the Camera is recording.
“Speed!” or “Rolling!” or “Recording” The Camera Person / DOP will make sure that the camera is recording.
At this point there is a very good chance that clapper board or a slate will be used.
This is a wooden or plastic structure that’s either like a small chalk board or whiteboard with the top section on a hinge that makes a loud “clap” when it gets slammed down on the rest of the board.
There will be information on the board that will have the shot and the take number.
Other information on the board can include the scene, location, time and date and specific time code.
The board is placed in front of the cast by an assistant, often a Runner/ Production Assistant / or the Continuity Supervisor/Script Supervisor.
Once the camera and sound are recording the person with the clapper will give the shot an ID like;
“scene 3 shot 2 take 3”
And then they will slam the clapper together.
This is so that the Video Editor has an audio ID as well as a video ID – this can come in very handy when going through a lot of footage looking for a specific take.
The clapper crash also allows a visual as well as auditory signal, this is used to make sure that the audio is in sync with the video, as the Video Editor can see when the clapper comes down and hear the crack of the clapper being shut.
Once the clapper has been struck the Director will likely call out “Action”
This is the go for the cast / Presenters to start performing.
Once the performance is completed and recorded (a take), the Director will comment on the performance
– they may also consult with the Sound recordist or Camera Operator to make sure that everything was right from their perspective.
Depending on the whether the Director is satisfied with what has been recorded they may call for another take and give feedback as to what might be tried differently.
The Continuity Supervisor/ Script Supervisor will make a note of the quality of the take.
Then the sequence starts again until the Director is satisfied that they have what’s needed.
At which stage it’s a camera frame / position change and / or cast / presenter change and the process starts again until all the shots for that location have been ticked off and “are in the can”
Once all shots have been captured for that location the cast and crew will either move to the next location or if all locations have been satisfied it’s classified as a wrap.
Some Trivia :
“In the can” comes from film productions where the film that is recoded are put into round flat metal canisters “cans”
But just to confuse matters “cans” are also used to describe a pair of headphones – this thought to be in reference to the homemade toy intercom kids create with two cans connected to a piece of string.
“That’s a wrap” is sometimes said to be an acronym for “Wind, Reel And Print”, which is part of the process when capturing on film.
2 Quick Notes :
A shoot doesn’t always need a presenter or cast – often a portion of the shoot will require “Colour” “Overlay” or “establishing” shots.
These are often shots that can be used to help tell the story by filling in details of the shoot like the scenery that can be found at the location or detailed coverage of specific actions that take place as part of the video.
In this part of the guide we are talking about the Corporate video production process – but most of this information could just as easily be applied to Television commercials, web video productions and almost any other type of video production.
Location, Scenes, Shots, Takes – What Does it All Mean?
Location is simply the place that the video is being recorded or is supposed to be recorded at.
In other words the location could be Corporate boardroom int. or River interview ext.
The int or ext stand for interior or exterior.
These are examples of the physical place that the video is being recorded.
But another location identifier might be “mars space station int.”
Obviously we cannot film your performance at Mars for the time being – so this would likely be in a studio against a set or green screen – when there a lot of green screen shots that the video editor has to keep track of, this identifier can be pretty handy to find what they are looking for.
A Scene is a numbered location identifier, that tells us where it fits within the overall video.
So scene one will be the first location that you will see on the finished video, and scene three the third etc.
There can be multiple scenes shot from one location, for example if all interviews are filmed in the same room, and there can be multiple shots per scene.
OK , time use your imaginations.
Think about movies or TV shows with story lines.
Let’s say there is a Scene set in a police station interviewing room.
There is a Female Cop interrogating a Male Suspect.
You see a shot of the whole room, so that you can see that there is a table with A female Cop on one side and a male Suspect handcuffed to the table sitting on the other side.
Then you might see a closer shot of the Cop from the waist up looking toward where the Suspect might be as she asks a question.
Then you might see the Suspect also from the waist up as he answers the Cop.
Then the Cop gets angry.
And this time the Cop seems much closer to the screen and her face fills up the whole screen.
But when you next see the Suspect, he remains calm and just smiles.
And we see this the same way we saw him before from the waist up.
Let’s have a look at how this can be broken down.
The whole Sequence of shots would be called a scene.
The sequence itself will have a scene and location ID like
“scene 4, NYPD interview room int.”
Each different view of what happens in that sequence is called a shot.
How many shots do you think I described?
Go back and see if you can count them…
OK what number did you come with?
4 or maybe 5?
Well if you said 5, you’ve been tricked – the correct answer is 4.
You see a shot is basically a camera and cast member set up.
As long as either doesn’t change it’s the same shot.
So we had the establishing shot/wide shot (WS) of the interview room- shot 1
Then we had the medium shot (MS) of the cop asking the question – shot 2
Then the medium shot (MS) of the suspect replying – shot 3
Then the close up shot (CU) of the cop getting angry – shot 4
Then we saw shot 3 again of the suspect replying. (That’s the tricky one!)
Do you see? This scene might have gone on for another few minutes, but still use the same amount of shots. A video editor can build a scene’s sequence with lots of cuts from only a few shots.
A take is a recorded run through or recorded attempt at a shot.
So going back to our TV show – let’s say that the scene is a conversation between our 2 protagonists that lasts for 30 seconds.
This would mean that there is likely to be at least 4 takes of that conversation, one for each camera and cast setup (shots).
But in reality there would be multiple takes (or tries) as the Director searches for the right delivery and acting from the cast.
Although as a side note: In the corporate video process, It’s not always the cast that causes retakes – if you are filming outside and a car or plane goes by that gets picked up by the microphone or if the camera person is doing a difficult camera movement or is recording something with fast action and is not satisfied with the results – these and other things can cause a take to be re-recorded.
Let’s Put it All Together:
Let’s see how all the pieces fit together.
The clapper might say:
Scene 4, NYPD interview room int. Shot 3 take 2.
This would mean the 4th scene of the production as seen by the viewer.
It’s set inside the NYPD interview room.
It’s the third Camera set up (with the waist up shot of the Suspect.)
It’s the 2nd time that they are recording that shot in this camera and cast set up.
Another reason why this is needed is often scenes and shots are filmed out of sequence, so all of these ID’s help keep the organisation needed to make sure that all boxes are ticked at each stage and stops the Video Editor from going crazy trying to organise all of the footage (recorded shots).
It’s like a big puzzle isn’t it?!
Some of the Principal Equipment.
We have created some video posts about some of the principal pieces of equipment you might come across on a shoot apart from the usual video camera, tripod, lights and microphone.
The Keys to a Good Shoot :
One of the ongoing themes you will see emerge from all of the parts to this guide is organisation and clear communication – and guess what?
They are the keys to a good shoot.
When everybody knows what they are supposed to do and when they are supposed to do it – and are prepared for their involvement sufficiently, then the shoot will most likely run smoothly.
A Key Person that helps make sure that everybody has this information is the Production Manager.
By doing their job properly during Pre-Production, most of this taken care of.
We covered this in the previous lesson: 4AThe Video Production Process – How Professional Video’s Are Created
Here are a few other factors that make for a good shoot:
A good Director or Producer will make sure that the shoot stays on track and doesn’t get side tracked by just concentrating on one or two shots for too long.
The cast know what to wear or what NOT to wear – stripes and checkers for instance can play havoc on a blue or green screen and it’s never a good idea to wear clothing the same colour of the green or blue screen!
If there are multiple people taking turns in front of the camera the next 2 people to be shot are ready and waiting for their turn.
All crew know what they are doing and are familiar with the equipment so that lighting sets ups, camera set ups and recording of takes are efficient.
All presenters are somewhat rehearsed with what they have to say and do.
Parking has been organized and can be validated if need be.
All permissions to shoot have been granted.
Location is not in a noisy or disruptive environment
Catering is timely and not waited upon.
There is enough storage and batteries.
What Happens After The Shoot ?
Once the shoot/s have finished and the video is safely taken back to the Video Production company’s offices, it’s time for the final phase, Post Production.
And that’s what we’ll cover in part C of this Chapter.
You’ll discover how best to use this part of the process to make sure that your video’s are the best they can be.
Video Production for Clients Guide Table of Contents:
Here’s An Index of Every Chapter:
So you can get the content that interests you the most!
Ready to Get Started ?
Why Rockmans Creative Media?
Rockmans Creative Media brings a professional skill set and over 18 years ongoing television experience to your video project.
We understand that we are custodians of your brand.
Our videos are unique, and are tailor-made to meet your company objectives.
We know how to produce engaging, attention grabbing and interesting videos.