WORKING WITH VIDEO PRODUCTION
Copyright © Graham Bond, 2016. Please do not circulate.
The purpose of this document is to request from clients and speakers a teamwork relationship in the process of producing an audio, or video recording.
The most important mis-conception faced by people who are new to video production, is the assumption that VIDEO IS AN “ADD-ON” TO AN EVENT: that the event begins and someone with a camera turns up, presses “record” and magically creates a beautiful result.
This is true if you want your daughter to shoot something for YouTube with her iPhone. But if you want a professional video, then consideration of lighting, camera angles, position of the tripod, ambient lighting and noise, microphone setup and so on will deeply shape any event that is being recorded.
THE FOLLOWING ARE PRODUCTION CONSIDERATIONS THAT CLIENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT. TO IGNORE THEM IS LIKELY TO IMPACT QUALITY.
PRIOR PRODUCTION MEETING
As long before the event as is possible, there should be a meeting with the production director to go over the locations, the staging, the lighting, and the sequence of the event so that decisions can be and any requests from production be incorporated as changes in the event’s structure. Ideally this meeting would be at the location at the same time of day as the event to co-create with a plan for artistic shots, to look at lighting, hear ambient noise and so on.
It is highly useful to have a written synopsis of the event for production that designates the expected flow of speakers and the lighting changes. Going over this synopsis is the backbone of the meeting with production.
It is hard to understate the importance of good quality audio for any video production. However wonderful, creative and compelling the visuals are, if the audio is sub-par or hard to hear, the audience will turn off and the video’s impact will be lost.
Video cameras alone, and especially at a distance, have limited capacity to record high quality sound – especially because they are picking up all the other noises around them. Thus having a sound mixer with microphones directly on the main subjects is a priority for any successful video production.
Along with sound quality, another critical element of video, is lighting. We are accustomed to exquisite lighting in professional film and TV, so unfortunately any dullness of ambient light will immediately read as boring and amateur.
Video cameras are unable to make appropriate adjustments to highly contrasting light such as a figure in front of a lit window (backlight) or a figure at a podium presenting a power-point slide. In both cases, the bright light will cause the figure to loose all detail.
ACTORS AND SPEAKERS
A thorough production run-through/test should be done before the event. On the day of the event, the main speakers must liaise with production and at the very least test out the microphone situation before the audience starts appearing in the room. Allow time, immediately upon your arrival, to check in with the producer of the event so they know you’re there and can settle any last-minute issues that require time for production to put into place.
This is for your benefit, so that you are comfortable with and aware of whatever constraints production brings (like where you can walk, how you should conduct a question-and-answer, the problems of moving to areas where there are strong light sources or back-lighting -which throw off the video recording etc.) You may need to be fitted with a battery-pack and run the cords under your clothes and the operator will need to test and set the sound level.
If you are being amplified through a speaker system, you need to be comfortable with how you sound to yourself. Sometimes it’s a shock to hear yourself as you begin to speak, and you need to experience what you sound like as you move towards and away from the microphone and use the emotional dynamic of your voice.
For all events that involve audio and video recording it is imperative for legal reasons, that everyone in the event be notified ahead of time that the event is being recorded and that their participation in the event gives agreement for their image to be shown and used at future occasion. At events where the arrival and departure of participants is uncontrolled, then large signs at every entrance and possibly notice on every ticket may avoid challenges by those asserting they were not aware they were being recorded.
This document assumes that most production situations will emphasize being “natural” however it’s true that make-up helps a lot. For men it’s a bit more of an issue because they’re not used to putting on makeup, but a bit of foundation to smooth skin tones is always good and perhaps a little dark around the eyes to make them pop.
If you can, avoid glasses and glittery accessories that can create lens-flare.
Please avoid closely striped or complex printed designs because it takes an enormous effort for a camera to render detailed prints as you move and this can result in video distortions.
SPEAK INTO THE MICROPHONE
Please ALWAYS SPEAK INTO THE MICROPHONE. After a sound-test is done of recording levels in an event where there is not a dedicated sound person to monitor the moment-by-moment fluctuations. Turning away from the microphone will create sound fluctuation problems.
Sensitive lavaliere microphones clipped to clothing need to be clear of hair, beads, scarves, or anything that might brush against them. Speakers must avoid bumping them while gesturing, or touching their chest.
LOOKING AND NOT LOOKING AT THE CAMERA
When video of a one-time event is being made for a future paying audience it is very important that the speaker regularly look at the camera, SMILE and address the future audience. Television anchors know that being constantly aware of the camera and “making love to it” creates strong emotional impact and connection with the remote viewers.
However, when “documentary-style” video is being made of an event the exact opposite is true. When “documentary-style” video is being shot you must NEVER MAKE EYE-CONTACT WITH THE CAMERA - even for a moment. For example if you are being videotaped teaching a class you must always pretend not to know the camera is there. And the participants must be instructed to resist the urge to peek at the camera. Even a split-second focus by participants on the camera destroys the artifice that the audience is seeing a “real” event.
SMILE AND REMAIN CONSCIOUS OF BEING ON-CAMERA
For most videotaped situations speakers must “lean towards” a gentle smile as your default facial expression with uplifting smiles at regular occasion. Unfortunately, in the modern climate of cheery television hosts what we feel as our neutral or “normal” expression or posture (especially when we are sitting on the side while another speaker is talking,) can often be read as glum, slumped, confused, disempowered, cold.
The worldwide web and social media make it likely that your career and financial wellbeing is intimately tied up with media production. Therefore, it’s beneficial for clients and speakers to find a rapport with audio and video producers.