When setting up for a shoot there is a good amount of gear to have ready and set up. Typically the day before, I am checking batteries, memory cards, making sure lights and stands and tripods are all where they should be so I can have it all packed up and set up quickly. Prepping for a shoot calms me and helps keep the butterflies at bay. Even though I have done plenty of video shoots, it still has that new feeling every time. With having everything ready to go it makes the process go by that much smoother.
Setting up the shoot is all a natural motion for me with some slight changes here and there between clients. I picture my framing and set up the camera and tripod accordingly and then move to light setup. With the camera though, framing can make or break the video. Having someone standing straight towards the camera and a bunch of empty space will make it hard for a viewer to stay interested. With an interview, setting a subject off to one side and keeping the shot close and tight will keep the viewer interested and it will also look better overall. Some challenges when setting up the shot can be limited space, dealing with obstacles whether that be desks, walls, roads, trees, people or cars. Ways to get around these obstacles can be changing out lenses that will allow you to get closer to your subject which might remove some of the distractions or allow you to get the shot in a smaller space. This is a good step to take if moving locations isn’t an option. Then there are the lights.
The process of setting up the lights change between videos. I look for how the light is going to hit the subject, how the shadows will look coming off the subject. Simple and small movements can make the difference between a good video and a bad video. Having the light set up the wrong way can cast shadows also, on the face, on the product or on the wall or backdrop causing a distraction you do not want and the wrong setup can cause hot spots where the light is too bright on the face or subject you’re shooting. Having a key light shooting above and down towards the subject is a good start for most video situations and then deciding if you need fill light. The fill light is typically a light off to the opposite side to help fill in the darker areas. Now, when shooting outdoors in direct sunlight that brings on a whole new monster and that is when an ND(natural density) filter will come in handy. This allows you to adjust the amount of light coming into the camera so you don’t have to change locations or the settings on your camera. It helps with cutting the harsh light that is hitting your subject while keeping the nice blurred background. If an ND filter isn’t an option due to not having one, you can adjust the camera settings to help cut down on the harsh light hitting the subject. Or you can always move the location to better suit the shot with a less harsh and better overall exposure as well.
But don’t forget the AUDIO!
Audio is as important as framing a good shot and setting up the proper lighting. Having good audio is a major key to a successful video shoot. Setting up audio can be tricky depending on location but our goal is to get the microphone as close to the person as we can but also not in the shot. This is where having a tight and zoomed in camera shot comes in as a huge benefit. Having the tight shot allows you more room to get the mic closer and not in the shot guaranteeing great audio recording. Getting the mic closer to the person allows us to get the full depth of their voice allowing us to make sure the audio is broadcast quality so it can be used across all media. Some problems or obstacles that can occur may be traffic noise, construction, an echo from being indoors, animals or people in the background. When looking for a location you want to try and find a place that is quiet, maybe off to the side away from the busy things in life. Cutting down on background noise the best you can allow for a better overall audio clip. Same when dealing with an echo, try to find an area inside that isn’t completely empty sounding, find a well-furnished area as it will help deaden the echo. Getting the audio clip the best you can with the area you have to work with will allow for post-processing to go smoother when trying to remove the noises or echo that may occur in the recording process. Now we’re all set and ready for the shoot.
When we interview someone, we go over some details right before we start. We make sure they know how we will be going about the process of the interview, from where to look, making sure they don’t move out of the camera shot and to speak clearly. We have them look at us or whoever is asking the questions unless the video calls for them to look into the camera but for an interview its always at who is asking the questions. We also do our best at having some talking points ready and questions set up, this will allow you as the interviewee to be prepared yourself and allow less dead space and maybe kill any awkwardness that may come up. Coming off as human and not a teleprompter reading straight from a list will make it a better experience for them and yourself so having things ready and kind of in your head will help with that. This will allow more drawn out answers and a better overall conversation which will give you more audio to work within the final product.
These are the steps I follow and try to stand by when it comes time to shoot a video.