Going on a video shoot by your lonesome can be a daunting task, especially if it’s not something your used to doing. Depending on the difficulty of the shoot, you may be thinking to yourself, “How the hell am I going to pull this off?” It’s important to remember that nothing ever goes perfect during production, so as my boss Steven likes to say, “Don’t Panic.” The following article will detail how to get the most out of your solo video shoot!
Pre production is an essential part of every video shoot, especially if you are shooting alone. Putting a checklist together of everything that needs to be completed before the first day of shooting is a great way to stay organized.
- The first thing I do to prepare for a shoot is create a shot list. In your shot list, include: the type of shot, and a description of what is going to happen in the shot. If you’re on a tight schedule, it would be smart to include times on your shot list as well!
- Are you shooting a scripted commercial? If so, you may want to use storyboards. Storyboards help director’s visualize what their shots are supposed to look like during production. If you’re like me and have the drawing skills of a 8 year old, then you will need to either create your boards online, or hire an artist to draw them for you. Remember, storyboards are not necessary if you are shooting a documentary-style or corporate type video.
- Scouting the location(s) of your shoot prior to the first day of production should be a high priority. Walking around your location will help guide your shot decisions on the day of the shoot. Also, taking photos of potential shots you want to capture during production is highly suggested for everyone who doesn’t have a photographic memory. If interviews are part of your shoot, don’t forget to keep an eye out for potential backdrops that you like.
- Scheduling interviews in advance is another key component of pre-production. Give potential interview subjects a call 2-3 weeks in advance and give them the low down on what the video is about, and why you want to interview them.
- Checking your gear before the shoot is an absolute must. There is nothing worse than showing up to set with a missing camera or essential accessory item. Go through all of your gear and make sure everything is functioning properly. Also, make sure all batteries are charged and all memory cards are cleared. Lastly, I recommend having pelican cases for the more fragile gear (i.e. camera bodies and lenses).
- Getting a good night’s sleep the day before your shoot is more important than you’d think. Going into a video production by your lonesome can be tiring, so it’s important to get a good amount of sleep the night before.
When it’s finally time to shoot, the game face needs to come on. In the morning, having a successful shoot should be at the top of your mind, but you also need to make sure you’re having fun. If you followed all of the pre-production steps, you should be well prepared for the shoot.
- The first thing you need to do when you get to set is find a safe place for your gear. It’s easy to misplace items if your leaving gear all around set, so choose a spot and stick with it!
- When shooting b-roll, it’s important to capture candid and natural moments. If subjects are looking at the camera and the scene seems unnatural, the footage most likely won’t be usable. In most cases, it’s best to let everyone know that you are shooting before you put them on camera.
- Shooting alone means that you have to bounce around and get as much coverage as possible. Once you have the shot you need, keep it moving and continue to move down the shot list.
- Using a tripod may be necessary for certain shots, but when i’m shooting alone I tend to use a monopod due to its mobility. Monopods are very easy to manuever and you should be able to get the tilt and pan shots you need with this piece of equipment. Also, monopods can be used like steadicam’s, even though that is not ideal.
- When i’m shooting, I also like to wear a lightweight backpack with some extra gear. In the backpack I usually have: an extra camera, batteries, alternative lenses, camera cleaning equipment, and extra SD cards. Having this gear available while you shoot will give you some security while you’re out capturing footage.
If you’re shooting a corporate video, you most likely will be interviewing employees, clients, and anyone else who fits into your story. Hopefully, you found all of your interview locations during pre-production, but if that is not the case you will need to take some time and figure out the best places to capture interviews.
- In an perfect situation, you will be able to set up a beautifully lit interview in a location that you feel matches the theme of your video. Often times, on the day of the shoot, this is not possible. 3 point lighting (key, fill, and hair lights) is the ideal set-up if you have the equipment. If you are not equipped with a great deal of lighting, you can still capture a beautiful looking interview with natural light. When doing an interview with natural light, you must remember to not let your subject face the sun. The worst thing you can do is position the subject so that the sun is beating down on them.
- Lighting is an important aspect of the interview, but the most important thing is sound. Having a lavalier mic is crucial for solo shoots. Holding a shotgun mic while asking the interview questions should be your last resort, and it may lead to an unsuccessful interview. Remember to bring: duck tape, an audio recorder, headphones, and extra batteries with you on set.
- Are you asking the right questions during the interview? I suggest preparing the questions ahead of time, especially if you do not have much experience interviewing people. Some people like to come up with the questions on the fly, but this is a risky strategy if you’re unable to steer the conversation in the right direction.
Backup all footage on hard drives
All of the hard work that you put into the shoot could go to waste if something happens to your SD card. Once you are able to get on a computer, it’s imperative to immediately save all footage to an external hard drive. For safety purposes, it’s best to save footage to 2 hard drives. If you have a fast internet connection, uploading to the cloud is also an option.