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Where do you start? Literally, where do you start? Producing video at any scale is fraught with difficulties. Luckily, I have been doing this for a while so here are some things to help you get started in general, then some questions you can ask yourself the further into it you go.

  • First set up with light behind or to the side of you. Light onto subject not behind. This is quite handy at a push, sometimes it’s not possible, and it’s good to have some shadow – this helps to define shapes.
  • Do your white balance, so carry something white, make these two a habit.
  • Make sure you have charged batteries and have extras just in case.
  • When you are set up, and have miked up subject, do a 10 second test film, then play it back to yourself-identify any problems. Concentrate on sound, position, light.
  • When you start the interview, get them to say their name, role and company – make this a habit too.
  • Don’t move the camera, B-roll you can do afterwards or on second camera. The more B-Roll the better.
  • Don’t speak in reply, just nod. You will want to speak, but don’t. This will make your editing a thousand times easier.

Having a clear plan for filming is essential. It’s all about what you want to achieve, how you want to do it, and time. So, say you want a one-minute video for social media, with two people being interviewed about a specific topic. The time for this is something that has many factors you could for example spend an hour editing this, or a week, you may not get the two interviews on the same day, week or location.

Here are some good questions to ask about a filming project.

  • Who are you interviewing?
  • Have they agreed?
  • Where and when is it taking place?
  • How are you getting there?
  • What do you need to take?
  • Do you need permission to film?
  • Do you have insurance to film?
  • What questions are you asking?
  • Do you have back up camera?
  • Do you have back up sound equipment?
  • What about lighting?
  • How are you going to edit the piece?
  • What software will you use?
  • What format should it be in?
  • Does it need music or natural sounds?
  • What music can I use legally and where do I get it from?
  • Do I need to storyboard?
  • What do I want to say?

In the course of producing pieces, things will inevitably happen that can throw a spanner in the works; microphones break, batteries die, lenses can slip, smudge or break, interference on sound, interference on picture, even record buttons can get stuck, computers can malfunction, equipment may not arrive in time, heat and cold and dust can affect your electronics.

Thankfully at this moment in time technology is abundant, everyone has access to a pretty reasonable camera on their phones. This can be used for primary filming or even as a second camera. A note of caution; be aware that sound quality when filming on phones can be a bit hit or miss. Also use a tripod or gimbal unless you are particularly after that type of shakiness. Generally there is no need to do lots of zooms and pans etc- these can look forced in a final piece and makes it much more difficult to edit.

Try and keep in mind always what you want to convey, what is the purpose of the piece? Who is it for? It’s always good to create something, but in a marketing context, why are you making it and who will watch it? If you can get opinions on your finished piece before putting it out that is always a bonus. It’s very easy to lose perspective when you are cutting and sequencing the same footage over and over.

All the difficulties can be overcome, with the old maxim check and check again, and myself – I would check once more just in case, because more often than not, you never can tell what will happen.