Welcome again to Monkey Mondays! In this week’s vlog, Chris and Matt are talking about video production and how a little planning at the start can make a big difference when you start filming.
In the vlog references are given to the Polterghost video from Evil Scarecrow, check it out!
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Hi, are we in focus Chris?
We are in focus.
Great, I'm Matt.
I'm Chris and it's another Monk-Ay Monday.
Well done. We always nail that. The reason we held our slate up there at the start is because we want to talk about video production today; a beginner's guide.
It's pretty easy to get right, just follow these simple steps and you'll end up with an excellent video.
The reason we're doing this is because a friend of mine asked us about a music video we'd put together and how we approach a project like that, rather than just having a band playing in a warehouse or something like that. But this applies if you’re doing something that tells more of a story like an advert or some sort of live action - something that requires a bit more storytelling.
We have to say that in the video we will refer to (Evil Scarecrow - Polterghost) you'll see Matt in another guise. Well you didn't actually appear do you?
I do really briefly but we won't go into that.
He’s the lead singer.
We’re not here to do that, we're here to do this. We've got to look at pre-production, we're going to look at the shoot day. We'll probably cover post-production and in another vlog so we can talk about the editing. The first thing to do is to have an idea; have a story to tell.
Yes, and the story that Matt decided to tell was that of a pol-ter-ghost.
Yes it was a poltergeist. There was a woman in the house and the Polterghost is bothering her. She's not frightened by it but at the end somehow she dies, she joins him and she finally sees him…and it's a great...it’s a blockbuster.
It is. So you thought of an entire story and then broke that down into sections / little vignettes that you can shoot then?
Yes that's right, and I guess there's a question of how you come up with that idea. A good way to do is to do some research first to try and get an idea of the type of media that is similar to what you want to do. Once you get that idea, break it down put it in a synopsis. The first thing I did was to write a paragraph or two about what I wanted to do and ran that by Chris.
Then you move on to a storyboard where you try and set out each shot that you want to cover and that means you can decide how long each shot is going to be and make sure that you've got enough coverage for the entire song.
We’ve drawn that here (don't know how well you can see it) and we're going to give you a little template (Video Storyboard PDF). What we have there is a slate number so we know which shot it is - a little picture of what the actual thing is, a sketch doesn't have to be amazing.
Yes, it can be really bad, it doesn't matter.
I like it in the top right hand corner to put a little direction of what sort of shot it should be. Should it be close up? Mid shot?
There's lots of different (styles) and initials you can use to relate to them. We put in the time codes so we know whereabouts it sits in the flow of the whole thing and how long that cover should last; that's a really handy one when we're working together. I could say “this particular shot needs to last five seconds” and we know how long to cover that shot at.
And then I will say “that didn't work, let's do it again”.
Yes exactly, and then there's some other bits you could put in there: audio notes and important team props. When you draw this out you can have an idea in your head about what props you're going to need as well as a good starting point.
We'll have multiple pages of storyboard and do we have a blank storyboard link thing down there? there might be one I hope so let's see if our team get one together...
It's an impossible shoot if you just take a storyboard to a shoot because your storyboard is in sequence; it tells the story. But what you want to be able to do is (because you might cut from one location to another) to break all those shots down and put them in a shoot-list. For Polterghost we had a couple of locations and we had several rooms. We made sure that when we were shooting scenes in the kitchen that we put all of those kitchen shots together so that we could do all of those in one or two hour sessions - so we were shooting out of sequence.
It may seem counterintuitive. You may want to start at the beginning of your music video and go towards the end but no, that's (shooting out of sequence) definitely a great way to go.
That's where the slate number is important because you shoot out of order and you capture out of order. You've got the slate number at the start and that helps you put it back into order.
Once you've got here, you've got pretty much most of what you need to then start shopping. You want to get your prop list sorted out from all of the storyboard. You want to start looking at the logistics, booking in the crew, finding shoot location. There's a load of pre-production to do once you get to this point. My best bit of advice that we've learnt is assume everything is going to take about two to two-and-a-half times longer than you think it will take because video production can be time-consuming. You have to set up the lights, you have to get the shot right and you need to give yourself time to do it, otherwise it's frantic.
If you're setting up at a new location you're going to have (need time to set-up)...I would normally allow maybe quarter-of-an-hour to half-an-hour for lighting, seeing where your shot is at least and then you might only be covering five or ten seconds. But you might end up using half-an-hour to do something that is only five seconds, so you might realise you haven't got enough time and then you've got to rejig what you actually want to do.
And that brings us really nicely to the actual shoot day itself. You should have everything there, all of your props, biscuits (don't forget the biscuits) and the important thing here is to be flexible. If the shot isn't working make sure that you accommodate that in some way. Some of the shots we scripted for Polterghost didn't quite work but luckily we had a spare croissant or two that we could float around and do something with. Don't be too rigid, just to stick to the story and shoot plenty of b-roll as well.
You want (to shoot) some extra footage that will be able to bulk things out because naturally if you two shots they start to contract - you might just want some interstitial kind of random shots to put in there. It's really useful to have. It's better to have more than less because you're leaving a location and you don't want to have to go back and spend a second whole day shooting.
Exactly. Stick to the schedule as much as you can. You've got your timings for the day so try and stick to that but importantly, make sure you've scheduled in some breaks and some catering. Don't forget the catering otherwise you'll have very angry cameramen.
You will. And if you work too hard you're going to get a headache and it's going to feel really difficult. You can work long hours but you've got to schedule-in those breaks.
Absolutely. When we shoot we're very careful to check each shot as we go so once your shot is set up the first thing to look for any weird reflections; make sure you are not reflected into something, make sure the crew around you aren't in shot, make sure things like bags or cables aren't in shot and the shot is clean and tidy.
And clocks! Chris...
Yes clocks with an exclamation mark. That's a good one. You can have a clock in shot and if it takes quite a long time to do the shot then that clock is going to be ticking around and you've got massive continuity problems.
Exactly, imagine if you are shooting everything in the kitchen and there's a clock (on the wall) and you shoot all of those scenes within an hour, but you've shot them out a sequence. The clock might be a half-past at the start of the video and twelve o'clock towards the end. so it can it can really screw your continuity. I'd recommend that you remove all clocks - it makes life a lot easier.
Don't use too many lights. If you can get away with one or even no light then that's the best thing to do. See where the sun's going to be at a certain point and use that to your benefit. Use a reflector if you can; just try to keep things light and nimble. I would, especially if you've got lots of different scenes and different places to shoot.
Control the lights as much as you can. Shooting indoor or outdoor, be aware of the sun's movement because in the afternoon it may be burning through a window that you haven't seen during the morning and it can make a shot very difficult. We recommend using some slates which is what we used at the start to help the edit. When you capture these slates will have a little number on (that) corresponds to this (shot) and you should be able to drop them seamlessly into the edit - just as we did for Polterghost. There's no problems whatsoever and it makes that post-production edit process so much easier.
When we shot Polterghost we did a few random edits on the fly just to see if something was going to work. We did a scene in a rural cottage and then the next scene was down some caves in Nottingham. We needed to check that those things actually worked rather than getting into an edit later on and saying “well this is just rubbish”.
That's a pretty good point, not even on the board there. A bit of extra advice is to be aware of that edit as you're shooting. When you're checking these shots think about what they're moving into for the next shot and make sure that's going to work. If you can edit on the fly during lunch that's no bad thing.
Yes, that's good.
That's where we are so we should we should probably disappear in a ghostly fashion.
Whoooaaaahh (attempted ghostly sound)