Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's All Right to Cast Pearls Before Swine

Ok, so that's a pithy name for a post that's really about planning A.K.A. pre-production for video - no, wait, don't go - it gets interesting, really.

For a recent project about agriculture practices, I took some time to head out to the farm before the upcoming shoot and it reminded me of the paramount importance of pre-production. Even though the farm project was on a limited budget, I took one of our precious budgeted hours to scout the location. I brought along the DSLR camera to grab some stills and quick video shots while the farmer showed me around.

This simple act accomplished two things: first, I had some beautiful stills and some cover shots in case they were needed later, second it helped me to pre-visualize for the day of the actual shoot which would involve not one, but two farms, and countless shot set-ups.

The above pig shot isn't very inspiring, nor did it make the final cut of the project, but it helps me to demonstrate an important point; planning is everything. Although a lot of great imagery can come spontaneously from being in the right place at the right time, no good film or video ever came out of a lack of planning. Let's face it, no amount of planning ever ruined an otherwise perfectly good project whereas the lack of planning has ruined the execution of countless great ideas. To say that pre-production is more important than actually shooting video is not really an overstatement.

That one hour I spent on-location before our appointed shooting day saved my crew, my client and the talent TIME on the day of the shoot. Since we charge by the hour, time really is money. My client may not even know it, but this was a key part of how I got their project done within their tight budget and tight timeline.

Another fantastic bonus was that it spared everyone a lot of stress. Because I knew the lay of the land (and the pigs) as well as the desired content ahead of time, problems that would otherwise arise on the day of shooting and have to be resolved on the spot and under the gun (with everyone staring at me for an answer NOW) could be pondered and solved beforehand.

On the day of the shoot I could be more relaxed instead of more rushed and that would rub off on the client and on the talent. Imagine this...on the day of the production we all actually enjoyed ourselves! We had time to be creative and get all the content needed to make the project a success. THAT is what pre-production is all about.

Doing your video production right means doing your pre-production right, and that means that you will always produce high quality that point, whom you cast it before hardly matters.

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