07 Sep 9 Pro Tips On How To Plan a Video Shoot
Video pre production is essential for a successful video. Award-winning video production company Magnason Film gives you nine insider tips to get you started when you plan a video shoot.
1. Select the location with care
When you start to plan a video shoot, one essential step in video pre production is choosing a great location. Make sure it reflects your brand and the image that you want to convey. Remember, the out-of-focus background tells as much of a story as you in the foreground.
Look for a bigger space. That allows the director of photography to create more depth of field. It also allows more room to set up the lighting gear and create the right ambiance.
Choose a quiet indoor room or outdoor location. A quiet location prevents interference with the audio. You don’t want a perfect take to be interrupted by a loud sound, such as traffic, noisy air vents or humming refrigerators.
When you plan a video shoot for the outdoors, the hours after sunrise (typically 6-9am) or before sunset (typically 430-730pm) are best. Those hours create a smoother and warmer look when using natural light.
In contrast, noontime, when the sun is directly overhead, is a more challenging time to shoot outdoors. The sun’s high angle in the sky will create shadows on the talent’s face and under the eyes. The sunlight also hits the back or top of the head, shining right into the camera, creating a harsh backlight.
In general, a professional production crew can create an interesting look in almost any location and circumstance with lighting techniques, set design and different lenses. But if you consciously choose a great location, you’ll take your video to the next level.
2. Best color to wear for a video shoot
“What is the best color to wear for a video shoot?” That is one of the most common questions asked, for due reason. Colors, light and contrast all play equally important parts in building an atmosphere around the talent. The contrast between light and shadow guides the viewer’s eyes to where you want it to go. But there isn’t one universal answer when deciding what’s the best color to wear for a video shoot.
People of various skin colors can enhance their performances by wearing colors that create harmony with both themselves and the colors of the background.
For example, if you are shooting in nature against a green background, wearing red or orange will create an effect called simultaneous contrast. By pairing colors from the opposite side of the color spectrum, you create beautiful depth in the image.
By contrast, pairing colors that are too similar should be avoided. For example, if you are lighter skinned, you shouldn’t wear white clothing nor shoot in front of a white background. If you are darker skinned, you shouldn’t wear dark clothing nor shoot in front of a dark background. In both cases, light on light or dark on dark, will wash you out. Contrasting colors create depth and beauty.
Also avoid clothing with busy patterns or stripes because they don’t work well on camera.
Once you choose your location, discuss clothing options with your filmmaker to make sure you wear colors that make you pop. You can also bring two sets of clothing for different settings.
3. A little grooming goes a long way
When you plan a video shoot, it may be a new experience for you, and you’ll be tackling things you’ve never done before. But don’t forget the simple step of grooming. Make sure that your hair is neat and remember to keep your teeth clean. If you eat before the interview, floss and brush your teeth afterwards.
You can bring your own makeup artist to the shoot so that you look your best. But if you don’t have a makeup artist, the director of photography should have on hand some foundational makeup to help avoid reflection from camera lights that bounce off your face.
4. Shine like gold
Making a video is often like running a 10k race—you need speed, focus, and endurance. A successful video pre production begins with lifestyle choices, such as getting enough sleep, exercise and eating healthy. These healthy habits also help you glow on camera. Whether that’s running, meditation, or walks in nature, whatever brings balance into your life, make sure you do that activity for a few days before the shoot.
Sleep is essential. While your sleep the night before the shoot is important, we were taught in school growing up that the most important night’s sleep was two days before a big exam. We’re not sure if it’s scientifically proven, but over our lives, we have found it to be true. The same thing goes with your interview. For example, if your shoot is on Monday, make sure you have a great night’s sleep on Saturday.
To enhance your preparation during video pre production, you can also get extra coaching from the director before the shoot. A pre-interview over the phone and coaching (either in-person or virtual) can help bring out your best performance.
5. Pre-interviews will boost your confidence
A pre-interview with the director over the phone or Skype before filming is an essential step in video pre production. It will help you prepare and understand what to expect on the day of the shoot. It will also help you identify hidden story lines and hone in on the message and tone you’re looking for. We highly recommend doing a pre-interview, especially if it’s your first time appearing on camera.
Pre-interviews can also transition into more in-depth coaching and performance training to help your preparation. For example, we offer these services both in-person and virtually over Skype.
6. Sign the location and talent release form
Before you and the filmmaker begin shooting, a location release form needs to be signed. Magnason Film, for example, oftentimes gives the talent a release form and then the talent gets the form signed. Coordinate these details with your filmmaker several days before the shoot, so there are no delays.
Also, talent needs to sign a talent release form to give the filmmaker permission to use the footage that will be shot. Like the location release form, the talent release form needs to be signed a few days prior to the shoot.
7. Just roll with it
To plan a video shoot, you do want to choose a filmmaker who is meticulous during video pre production. However, you don’t want to plan and rehearse what you’ll say. Your delivery needs to be spontaneous and natural.
Write down the important topics you want to cover and give them to the filmmaker a week before the shoot, so he can incorporate them in his questions. If a random thought or topic pops up in your mind, just jot it down and bring it to the shoot. But you don’t need to rehearse how you will speak.
Be yourself and step into your humanity. Don’t think you are ‘being interviewed.’ Instead, think of the interview as a conversation. See the interview as a chance to really explore the topic from a new perspective. Who knows, you may even discover something you hadn’t ever thought of before.
In other words, trust your filmmaker. A good filmmaker will gently pull the gold out of the interview to present you in the best light. Think of the filmmaker as a close friend, who really wants to help you tell your amazing story.
For additional preparation, you can get on-camera coaching. Acting techniques and exercises will center and relax you, so you can be fully present for the interview.
8. Incorporate the questions into your answers
When you are replying to the question, include the question in your answer. For example, if asked, “Why do you like the color blue?” Your answer should start: “I like the color blue because…”
This is the only technical thing you need to think about during the interview. It can feel unnatural at first, but after you practice it a couple of times, it becomes effortless. Speaking in complete sentences about the most important topics helps the storytelling and editing.
Keep in mind, this rule only applies to the beginning of each question. For follow up questions, you don’t need to repeat the question again. Have fun and engage in the conversation naturally.
If this is a new technique for you, you can practice it in the pre-interview with your filmmaker.
9. Archive Your Footage
You’ll need a hard drive to archive and backup all of the footage. The size of the hard drive depends on the scale of the project, so make sure you discuss this with your filmmaker. You can mail it to the filmmaker or give it to the production team on the first day of shooting.
For example, at Magnason Film, after the film is edited, we put the completed video, all the media files, and footage on the client’s hard drive. We then hand it back to them so the client is free to use the material as he pleases.
Magnason Film is a New York-based award winning video production company. We have 20 years of experience creating inspirational, thought-provoking nonfiction stories. We will convey you and your story in a beautiful light. If you need additional prep, we offer in-person and virtual performance training so you can be fully relaxed and present during the interview.