What goes into a video shoot

So, I sit here killing time as my footage from the last shoot imports.  And I'm realizing that people don't really know what goes into a video shoot.  Beyond the actual shooting (which I'll cover too) there are lots of tons of other things going on and being planned.  Wonder what?  I'll use a recent shoot for a client (see the finished product below).

PRE-PRE PRODUCTION

Every project starts with an email, phone call, or text.  It usually goes like this "Hey, I've got a project we're thinking about doing a video for.  We're talking to a couple people, but can you put together an estimate together and do you have time for this project?"  There's usually a call to go over what ever assets they have (script, storyboard, etc) so far.

The estimate is pretty easy at this point.  I know, pretty accurately, how much it costs me to have my office open for an hour.  That includes the office space, electricity, internet, computers, cameras, audio gear, lights, software, even the desk (it's called the Cost of Doing Business).  So it's a pretty simple calculation... how much time will it take X CODB + hard costs (VO, music, stock) = The total cost of the project.  There's some profit factored into my CODB, so if a client comes back and says "can you work with us on this?" there can be some flexibility.  But it makes zero sense for me to take a project way below my costs, so I pass on stuff from time to time.

TREATMENT / BIG IDEA

Everything starts with an idea and it's a good thing to know what you're getting into ahead of time.  Hopefully there's been a script or storyboard developed, but a lot of times we'll help with that side of things too.  It's important to get that idea down on paper so the right people can approve it.  For the shoot the other day, they were really buttoned up.  Beautiful storyboards and script.

PRE-PRODUCTION

This is the planning stage.  Most of the time, it's the most important part of the whole project.  It's when you go through EVERYTHING in the project and plan it all out.  For the shoot I was doing, it included two big things.  A call to go through the storyboard and put together a shot list with the client.  And the biggest part... finding a laundry room we can shoot in.  Sounds easy enough, right?  But think of your laundry room.  It needs to look perfect first and foremost.  But then you need room for a tripod and big camera, 2 or 3 lights, props, me and an assistant, a person to be "talent" (from the agency), and 2 or 3 agency people to approve what we're shooting.  It took a while to find.  I hit up every person I know, the agency went through people they know, I searched dozens of Airbnb listings.  Finally we found a great laundry room.  It was a little far from the agency's office but timing was tight.  We had like a week and a half for all of the pre-pro.

THE GEAR

Before I get into the actual production, the other part of pre-production is identifying what it will take to get the shoot done.  I also firmly believe in having a back up for everything.  Here's a list of what we brought...

  • Sony FS7 Camera - we were shooting 4k and needed slow motion
  • Canon 5d Mark III - brought as a backup and for stills if needed
  • Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II
  • Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
  • Canon 70-200m f/2.8L IS USM II
  • Metabones Speedbooster EF > Sony
  • Metabones EF > Sony - backup adapter
  • Kinoflo Diva - key light for the shoot
  • Astra Lite Panel BiColor LED - back / fill light
  • Lowell DP 4 Head Lighting Kit - backup lighting
  • Small HD 5" monitor w/ LUT support
  • Sachtler Tripod
  • 3x C-Stands
  • Leatherman
  • Gaff Tape
  • Lots of Batteries & accessories

THE PRODUCTION

The day of the shoot went pretty smooth.  My assistant showed up early and we got out to the location around 8am.  I like to show up at least an hour prior to the client arrival so that we can get stands, lights, cameras, everything up and checked before they walk in.  This is good for 2 reasons.  Primarily, I get to check everything before someone is looking over our shoulders.  We test before we head out, but it's a safety so we can solve any problems without the client being alarmed.  Secondly, it leaves less time for the client to sit around.  We want them to be in and out as smoothly as we can.

Client walked in, we tweaked lighting for the product they brought and got to the shooting.  During pre-pro we had set up a shot list and I'd ordered it into the most effective sequence for what we needed to get.  But we're always open to input and additional shots.  For this, we had a lot of those to make sure we were covered.

We shot for about 4 hours and sent the client on their way while we broke down.

POST PRODUCTION

So now the fun begins.  Most clients think you can jump right into the editing process.  In fact there's a half day or day of things to do prior to shooting.  Here are the steps...

  1. Take all the cards (which are well labeled for what order we shot in) and import them into the job folder.  Depending on how long we've shot, this can take a while.
  2. After that, I make disk images of every card.  If something gets corrupted during import or an emergency happens, I have an exact copy of the card we shot on and I can re-import.  I hold onto those until the project is completely wrapped.
  3. Once all that is done, the imported files are then renamed to match the project.
  4. Then everything gets backed up from my main working NAS to a backup NAS and an offsite NAS.  To lose something I'd have to have 2 drives in each of those fail all at the same time.  That's why I back it all up first.
  5. Then the footage gets imported and sorted into Adobe Premiere and we're ready to edit.

At that point I assemble a rough first cut that goes to the client via Wipster.  I can't say enough amazing things about Wipster.  Clients can comment directly into the video and it's matched to the time code.  It's amazing.  We go through a number of rounds of revisions and then we're wrapped.  When it's wrapped I send the clients MP4 and MOV.

So that's some of what goes into each shoot.  There are a million other little things, but if you're thinking about a video project you'll know most of what goes into it.  Here's the finished piece...

I'm way behind...

I'm way behind on updating my blog.  In 2016 my goal is to get it done at least once a week.  If only for getting me to stop and think more about what I'm doing and not be so focussed on the next project.

Here's a project I did for an agency in Chicago that was for Coca-Cola and Nabisco.  They shot in NYC on Red Dragons, but were looking for someone to do the post production as well as some pickup shots.  They turned to my company, AV Collective, and we executed 9 of these 3-4 minute videos as well as a half dozen or so :30 versions.  They came out great.


I have no job.

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I mean, I always have a job.  But for the first time in a LONG time, I don't have a 9-5 job.  I have always done freelance while having a full time gig.  Even if it meant getting home from work, doing the freelance all night, going straight back to work.  But now I don't have that middle of the day thing to eat up my freelance time so I'm going full speed ahead with AV Collective.  If the right full time opportunity came along, I'd entertain the idea.  But right now I'm really psyched about offering full service photo and video to a wide range of clients through my own company,  AVCollective.com  It's not really that different than what I was doing before, other than the fact that my family depends on my salary and it's elevating my hustle to work with new clients.

Along those lines I've added new clients and projects the past two months that I'm really proud of.  I'll put together some case studies on each of them so you can see exactly what I did and how we executed.  It's been a blast.  So stay tuned as I reboot my websites and re-engage.

Open workspaces suck.

I read a REALLY interesting article from Fast Company on why open workspaces are not good for employees [read it here].  They made some great points that really resonate with the place I'm working right now.  The biggest issue with an open work space is you can't focus.  I can't tune everything out and just focus on what I'm doing.  There's someone talking or doing something else around you, or the hum of the AC.  So you turn to headphones, but then you've got music or something going.  There's never just silence.  The other issue, from a creative person standpoint, is there's no relaxing when you're in an open floor plan.  There's times I have to come up with something totally new and original.  I can't stare at a screen and force it to appear.  I need to move around.  Maybe shoot a basket or two on a little tykes hoop.  Bounce a ball off the wall.  Stare at the ceiling.  All of these things you can't do in an open workspace. Long story short?  They don't work.

Success In Photography

I've been thinking a lot about what success means when it comes to photography. Then I found this little F-Stoppers video that is really interesting. It also has a quote that I love. The abridged version is... "You have to be working until all hours of the night. If you're not working late, someone else will be and they'll take your jobs." (go here to jump right to that quote in the video)

Executive Head Shots

In April I went to New York for a workshop with the famed Joey L.  I found out right before I left for that trip that I was going to have to head from NYC to Dallas to do 25 executive head shots in 1 day for RMG Networks.  I found a hair/makeup person, called the hotel and got a decent room to shoot in, and shipped my gear out. Usually I'd want an assistant for something like this but with the timing it was too tight.  Got there to the hotel at 2am Monday morning, was up and setting up by 6am.  Oh, and I found out we had 40 to do and our time was cut down due to meetings people couldn't skip out of.  Even with all that, I got some shots I really liked. 01_RMGnetworks_BrianCordes_02_1845_HR 02_RMGnetworks_GarryMcGuire_2051_HR 03_RMGnetworks_SteveNesbit_02_0475_HR 04_RMGnetworks_HansPusch_02_2091_HR 05_RMGnetworks_CharlesAnsley_02_0147_HR 06_RMGnetworks_YanLu_02_0177_HR 07_RMGnetworks_DavidCarbone_01_1342_HR

 

Camera :: Canon 5d Mark III, 24-70mm f/2.8L, shot at 1/80, f/6.3 (ish), ISO 100

Lighting :: Calumet Travelite 750 in a 48" soft box to camera left, just above eye level feathered down and towards the camera.  Travelite 750 in a grid for rim light, Canon Speedlite 580 EX-II on the background directly behind the subject.

Hair/Makeup :: Laura Martinez

Commuting Sucks

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I have written 3 blog posts about why I think it's bullshit for a company to move from the suburbs to the city.  I've deleted each one for being to wordy.  So, here's a top 10 list...

  1. When I accept a position at a company, one factor is the proximity to my home.  I want to have a work, life balance and you deciding to move the company to the city means I might have made a different decision when I took the job.
  2. "But you'll get to experience the city!" Everyone says that, it's not true.  Maybe if I was 22 and could get back to my place whenever I want, but I have a family I want to see occasionally.  Think about your average day and how much time you spend hanging out and enjoying your surroundings.  It's maybe a half hour at lunch, tops.
  3. It's a sprint to the office/train.  I wake up and I'm rushing to make the train, then I get to the city and I'm rushing to get to the office.  Then the day is done and I'm rushing to get to the train again, so that I can make it home before 7pm.  It sucks.
  4. It costs me more to get to work every day.  My train pass is $150, I've taken 5 cabs (due to weather or timing) which is about $50, I've had to park at the train station 4 times which is $12, and I've had to drive to the city to drop off/pick up gear twice (48 miles round trip x 55 cents a mile, plus $28/day to park) which cost me $108.80.  That's $320.80 or $120.80 more than what I was spending to drive.
  5. It costs more when I'm at work.  I just had a Caesar salad and a Diet Dr Pepper.  It was $10.  The salad dressing wasn't even included in the $7 salad price.  My first day I got a Coke and a bottle of water and it was almost $5.
  6. I can't go out for a beer after work.  My friend's company screwed them too and moved from the burbs to the city.  But for me to meet up with them for a beer or two I have to miss spending any time with my wife or putting the baby to sleep.  If I don't get on a train between 5 and 6:30pm, I don't get home until 8pm.
  7. The flip side of number 6 is that if I have to do anything in the suburbs before 7pm I can't make it.  By the time I get to the train, get to my home, walk there, put my stuff down, get everyone together, get in the car and pull away it's 7pm at the earliest.
  8. I work in the loop, like most everyone else.  Even when I want to do something after work, there's nothing going on after 6pm or on weekends.  Everything happens in neighborhoods, nothing happens downtown in the loop.
  9. Even though you're in the city, you can't get to anything.  If I need to go to the camera store I have to either drive down (see costs above), take an hours worth of trains/busses/walking, or take an expensive cab.  Even if all I need is a USB cable I have to walk a mile to Best Buy or take a $7 cab.  And that's assuming what I'm looking for is popular enough to put on their small amount of shelf space.  And I can't go to the one by my house on the way in because it opens at 9 and I'll miss my trains.
  10. And finally, people who don't work in the city always talk about how great it would be.  It's not.

(Btw, I think it would be just as bad if it was a company in the city moving to the suburbs.  People take jobs based on location.)

Rihanna in LA

Found out on Friday at 2pm that our shoot with Rihanna moved from NYC on Tuesday to LA on Sunday.  Insane turnaround to get everything set up, coupled with the fact that I had to do it all in 1 hour because we were on our way to interview Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers and we had to leave at 3pm.  We got it all done and the footage came out great.  Can't wait to see it on the network.

Amazing glasses holder

I have a dream job... It's having an online shop that designs things specifically for people's desks.  Unique items that are well designed and almost like mini pieces of art to have on your desk.  In addition to unique items that share your personality but in a subdued way.  I stumbled upon the Bushakan Glasses Stand and it's exactly what I'm talking about.  I want one.

Brazil Sports Expo

As I figure out what I'm going to do with my travel photography, I wanted to share one random frame from the trip.  Keep an eye out for more shots of the country in the future, enjoy this for now.

New Lighting Setup

The other day I posted some photos I shot between setups for my video shoot.  Here's a screen grab of the shoot.  Went for something a little more dramatic than I typically do to highlight the contrast on his body.  Pretty happy with how it's working out.

Will Ko - Pro Body Builder

I had a video shoot today with one of our athletes.  I happened to have my Fuji x-pro1 with as well so I figured why not pop off a couple of frames here and there.  Pretty happy with the final results.  They've been processed through Lightroom but not retouched (to take out stands, etc).  Since it was just for fun I prob won't do that.

Camera: Fuji x-pro1

Lens: 35mm f/1.4

Lights: KinoFlo, Lowel Omni's, Silver Bounce

Lunch Time Cinema

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Yesterday my copy of The First 70 from Kickstarter showed up. I wanted to watch it ASAP so I decided to start a lunch time car cinema. I've got my sandwich, strawberries, and a good documentary. It's going to be a good lunch.

The cost to move to the city

A company I got my start at has always been based in the western suburbs of Chicago.  They've always talked about moving to the city and today they announced to everyone that it was happening (I have lots of good friends there still).  That made me think a little bit.  Sure, working right in the loop would be great.  But what's the cost to the average employee for a move like this?  I did some quick and dirty math and it's a lot more than you'd think...

Driving

Assuming 22mpg average and you're adding 50 miles on to your commute round trip.  And I'm averaging out a month of working days to 21.75 (365 days - 104 Sat/Sun divided by 12 months).  Doing the straight math, gas will cost you approximately $8/day.  That doesn't factor in that you're sitting in traffic and not driving for a good portion of your commute so I'm adding 25% to that so you're at $10/day or $217.50/month.

Parking

I did a quick search of a couple websites and rates near the new building are anywhere from $300 to $550.  I chose $400 as it was near the average and seemed to be the easiest walk to the office.  So that's $400/month.

The Train

If you decide to take the train to the office then you can get a monthly pass.  From a nearby station, south of the office's current location you're looking at $150/month for a train pass.  Parking at said train station is $105/quarter or $35/month.  Bringing your train total to $185/month plus a nice half hour walk in the elements.  That doesn't include gas costs driving to the train, but that's too hard to calculate.

Food

Why am I including food?  Because the current office includes a cafeteria for lunch.  Now you're going to be in the loop at lunch hour and you'll have to buy that lunch.  The average trip to lunch (based on the abundance of eating out I do) is about $9.  $9 times 21.75 work days a month is $195.75

The Results

If you're going to drive, it will cost you $813.25 more per month to work in the city versus the location of the current office ($617.50 minus the lunches).

If you're going to take the train, it's a more affordable $380.75 ($185 leaving out the lunches).

Most people at the company live in the suburbs.  North, South or West of the current location.  This doesn't factor in that you're adding about an hour and a half commute round trip.  That's got to be worth something, but it's tough to monazite  (it'd be $261/month if you were working minimum wage for those hours).  And the eating out can be cut down by bringing your own lunch.

All in all it gives a pretty good idea of what it costs for a company to make a move from the suburbs to the big city.  You get a more prestigious location but you put a lot more financial burden on your employees.  It's an interesting trade off.

 

Clothes make you creative

That's not true, but it's not entirely false either.  Obviously I don't think your clothes make you creative or not, that'd be ridiculous.  But they can stifle your creativity.  Maybe not blatantly but it does.  I take my own situation as a case study.  I've never worked somewhere with a dress code.  I wore a hat to work almost every day of my career, other people would work without shoes on, people dressed comfortably and got work done.  It didn't boost their creativity to not have a dress code, it made them comfortable and thus they worked a little easier.  Where I'm at now, there is a dress code.  "Business casual"  No jeans, no gym shoes, and absolutely no hat.  So what does that really mean?  Am I so struck with dress code frustration that I can't do my job?  Of course not.  But it does mean that every morning my least favorite thing to do is pick out clothes.  I have to think about what I'm going to wear, I have to iron it all, I have to tuck it in, and I always wonder if it's "Business Casual" enough.  I don't ever really feel comfortable at work without the safety of my black hat turned slightly sideways.  And I don't ever really feel comfortable during my day.  Until I get home and immediately take off the "business" and just go with the casual.  I don't interact with clients, I don't go to lots of meetings, most days I talk to the same two people.  But the company was started as a sales business and they just don't get the creative world.  One of these days I'll go crazy and wear a t-shirt to the office, that will throw things way off kilter.

Brock Skating

 

Went up to Appleton, WI to shoot a day in the life piece with one of our athletes at work.  He does skating as cardio sometimes so we shot some images for a print piece to accompany the video I'm doing.  Scope em out...