If your organization has never worked with a video production company before and you’re curious about how a shoot day typically goes, then this article is for you! But first—if you haven’t already—check out the article we previously wrote on Pre-Production, so you understand some of the conversations needed before a shoot takes place.
Regardless of the type of video to be produced, one thing that’s always needed on shoot day is a point-person from the client organization. This is a person who’s familiar with the pre-production conversations that have happened, is readily available to the video director, and is a bridge between the client organization and production team throughout filming.
The Typical Shoot: An “Overview” Video
While a shoot day can look different depending on the type of video being produced, a great deal of our clients request “Overview Videos” for their websites, which detail their organization broadly in about 2-3 minutes. These videos usually involve a combination of video interviews with key staff and customers, and b-roll footage shot to match the narrative derived from the interview responses.
Video Interviews can take place in one location for convenience or budgetary purposes, or in multiple locations to diversify the footage. They can be set against natural office interiors/exteriors, backdrops, or even totally fabricated sets! They can all be squeezed into one day or spread across different days to coordinate everyone’s availability. The decisions on how, where, and when to film interviews is discussed in pre-production.
If, for example, the client is an educational facility, they might decide early on that they want an Overview Video with a narrative built from five key individuals: the head of school, two admins/teachers, two students, and a parent/alumni. Three of the interviewees are available one day and the other two on a separate day. Most of the interviews will take place in quiet offices, but they’d like one to be shot in their historic library and another in their grand entryway. A shoot schedule is put in place to coordinate everyone’s availability and also the availability of the desired filming rooms. If there’s a lot of foot traffic in the library at certain times, those times need to be avoided to not only control extraneous audio levels, but also to give the interviewee some privacy.
When we arrive to shoot interviews, we typically need an hour to setup lights, camera, and audio equipment before the interviewee is needed. This process can be speedier if we’ve been able to scout the location first. When an interviewee comes into the room, we mic them up and chat with them a bit. Being in front of a camera can be unnerving for some people, so setting a relaxed tone and atmosphere can make all the difference! Questions will have been generated in pre-production, but whether or not the interviewee sees the questions beforehand is decided by the client, since some people are much more comfortable not knowing what is going to be asked. Each interviewee will be asked questions geared towards their knowledge of, or involvement in, the organization. So, the head of school will talk about the school’s history and mission, and the students will talk about their experiences at the school and what they love about it. To facilitate editing, we like to ask our interviewees for both their long expressive answers and then a summarized short version.
Depending on whether there are specific sound-bites needed or how nervous an interviewee is, interviews can range from 30-minutes to over an hour! All this to sometimes get a 15-second soundbite! We’ll typically go down the list of questions conversationally—asking interviewees to restate the question while answering—and then we’ll either go through them all again or a select few, or simply just ask them new questions! One benefit of these in-depth interviews is the extra content we end up with is great for use in shorter video vignettes that can be produced alongside the main video.
Once an interview is finished, depending on the schedule, we either move on to the next one or get in some b-roll shooting!
B-roll is essentially documentary footage and can be collected before, during, and after video interviews take place. Standard shots include things like the exterior of the client’s establishment, signage, and the organization’s culture, people, and work environment. Continuing with the example of the school Overview Video; we may film students getting off the buses and walking into the building first thing in the morning, capture a teacher in the middle of a lecture to her class in a newly renovated classroom, see smiling students and staff, see a school tradition in action, etc.—anything that shows the school in the best light possible.
B-roll shooting can be as planned as staging very specific shots at set times during the day or as unplanned as just giving the video crew a tour around the facility to capture all that they see. It can be squeezed into a single day of shooting along with the interviews or spread across multiple days to capture multiple setups.
Our recommendation to clients is that we shoot interviews first and then get b-roll. Often this gives us new insights into footage we should be capturing. For example, if one interviewee had mentioned that there’s a very special sculpture on campus that students love—we’d be sure to get footage of it for student and alumni appeal. In our experience, four days of b-roll shooting usually yields the most interesting and diverse shots.
To round out this blog post, we’d like to share an example of a what a shoot day’s schedule can look like! This example continues to play off the idea we’re filming for an educational facility:
9:00am — Video Crew arrives and sets up in Board Room A
10:00am — INTERVIEW 1 in Board Room A
11:00am — B-roll in Science Lab, Hallway, and Art Room
12:00pm — Lunch
1:00pm — B-roll in Gymnasium with Marching Band (staged)
1:20pm — B-roll and setup in Library
2:00pm — INTERVIEW 2 in Library
3:00pm — B-roll of students leaving school
4:00pm — Shoot Wrapped
Producing a video takes a lot of work and coordination. Luckily, we’ve developed a methodology during the many years we’ve been doing this that makes our clients comfortable with the entire production process. If you’ve got any questions about productions or would like to discuss a project with us—simply reach out! We’d be happy to offer any insights or services to help you with your video needs!