Q&A: What photographers need to know about producing video

For many, it seems that the most intimidating aspect of motion/video is the production… How many people do I need? How do I storyboard a project? How much time does each shot take? How many takes is normal?

In order to shed some light on the subject and to hopefully inspire many of you to dip your toes into these waters, I’ve asked some of my favorite producers to share their advice on what photographers need to know when starting out with video.

To also give you your monthly dose of new work from us, I’ve sprinkled in new work from Glasshouse Assignment photographers. As always, thank you so much to all those who contributed to this month’s Q&A!

– Jacqueline Bovaird, Glasshouse Assignment

Ryan Schude

Megan Bienstock, Casting Director/Producer, Remote Control Productions

I find the biggest difference between producing a print shoot versus a video shoot is making sure you are telling the story. Storyboards are a great way to make sure that everyone is on the same page. I always make sure that we can clearly answer the question “Who’s story are we telling?” Once that is defined we can color in all the other pieces of the shoot. All of the crew needs to approach the shoot with that question in their mind so that we tell one cohesive story. Sometimes in print shoots crew can work independently of each other and get the job done when on set. With video it is more of a collective process, both in the pre production and the post production.

Levi Brown

Casey Levine and Monique Perreault, KWC Productions

The three main qualities that photographers need to cultivate when venturing into video is: the ability to plan things out, common sense, and a collaborative spirit.

With photography you can roll a little loose, have things come together at the last moment, and in some cases have unexpected and magical situations happen because of a lack of structure.  With video, you have no choice but to address your workflow before you are on set to make sure you are maximizing time, have a clear idea of what you need and how you are going to get it, and a handle on problems that can arise.

Ryan Pfluger

In our experience, the best video sets are ones that run exactly according to plan.  There is a clear objective and an even clearer plan on how to get to that objective spelled out before anyone steps on set.  With video you are racing against time; if you need to do multiple takes to get something right it eats up at time.  There are more factors in video – imagery, sound, movement – which means more time needed to get it right. There is little time to problem solve. You need to have it figured out beforehand.

On a video set, you have to share the spotlight, so to speak. As a still photographer you can show up solo with a camera and make amazing images. All you really need is light.  With video, the director is only as good as his crew. You need a tight ship to get things done. When photographers start to bridge the gap between photo to video, there is a whole new set of necessary positions (DP’s, gaffers, AD’s) to get used to. It is essential to learn each person’s role is in the overall scheme and how they can help create the best footage in the end.

Spencer Jones

John Noonan, Producer, Gravy Production

If you are going to declare, “I shoot video”, then you better have done some of your homework to back that statement up. Never claim to be able to deliver something you know you can’t. Jobs are won and lost in that initial, and sometimes final, pre-bid call. We all have been asked to jump on a creative call minutes after being handed the storyboards. It has been my experience that it is better to re-group after a call then to engage in a conversation you are not prepared for. Most clients can respect that. You have always run your calls with confidence, why change now. (stay tuned next month for more on video from John!)

Trevor Dixon

David Crowther, Post Supervisor and Editor, Trousers Inc.

One of the best things you can do when shooting digital video these days is to work backwards from your final product. Knowing what you (or the client) eventually need to end up with will help you with the decisions you’ll need to make before you begin shooting. Here are some basic things to think about. (stay tuned next month for more on video from David!)

Evan Kafka

Keep a look out for next month’s Q&A! I am always looking for new voices and new ideas so if you have comments, questions, or if you’d like to participate, please feel free to email me!

This Q&A exists as a monthly email blast and as a post on this blog. If you would like to receive our monthly email, please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to add you to our list!

Jacqueline Bovaird, Assignment Representative

212 – 462 – 4538  •  jacqueline@glasshouseassignment.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s