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Day of the Shoot – Must’s and Must Not’s

By | Production | No Comments

The day of any production will be stressful. There are chances that you can’t miss and deadlines up the wazoo. This series of how-to shoot picks up from talent casting and product display. You can begin the series here. Don’t panic. Millions have been through this before and their advice can help. Even the best need a basic refresher. We’ve boiled down the essentials with a few bonus tips so you can make the most out of your studio time.

Let’s break this down into three categories. The first is the list of things to do the day before the shoot. Then the things you must do the day of the shoot. And finally, the things you should never do during a shoot.

The Night Before

Remember to get everyone on the same page. This means confirming arrival times with all cast and crew members and arranging rides for talent if necessary. Gather all your equipment. Itemize any expensive components for insurance purposes. Charge any batteries or electrical devices so they are ready for the long day ahead. Review the contracts. You will specs to cover within the contract with the client. You will want a checklist of shots to procure to fulfill the contract. Any vendors you use such as a studio, talent, or crew will have their own contracts and guidelines. Make sure everything is accessible in case there are contradictions the day of. Your studio contract may be digital. This an awesome convenience. Get a good night’s rest and prepare for madness.

Must Do’s During Shot Days

On Time Means Early

Arrive on set 15 minutes before your call time. This may mean waiting patiently in our near your vehicle but that’s just part of being responsible. Who knows, traffic could hold you up that little bit of time.

Check That List

Make sure all equipment, crew, talent, and products made it on time. This might require the help of a specific crew member tasked with such responsibility. That’s why checklists come in handy, and include phone numbers to crew and vendors for easy contact.

Keep On Schedule

When you book your shoot, you should have a specific working time. Plan for breaks and know what shots you need at each point. Use breaks to review the collected materials and gauge how you are doing against the clock.

Polite and Proper

Be mindful of other productions at work in your area. This also includes the way you treat the facilities you will share with another unit afterwards. We are all a community so work together.  Wrapping early to clean the set is always a solid notion. It’s the right thing to do and the best way to ensure you didn’t leave anything valuable behind.

Don’t Do Any of These

Order New Equipment

You’re wasting valuable time and crew labor when you don’t have everything you need on set. Sending a P.A. out to grab lunch or some general item is not a major pitfall. However, relying on him to return on a Saturday shoot with a matte silver lens flag is the sign of an undisciplined production unit. Unless you can get it from 7-11, don’t send someone out for it.

Over Eat or Do Too Much Coffee

The snacks can be outrageously delicious. Have you had these thingies from Costco… Not important. You are here to work. Yes, proper catering can help provide sustenance for the grueling days of a shoot. This can have a positive or negative effect on the mood of the crew and the overall shoot. The point is to be productive. Over-engaging in any activity can be bad. From an experienced stagehand take this advice, cut out the red bull and leave the excessive weed smoking to guys with handlebar mustaches.

Assume Overtime

It does happen. You don’t always get the day you want and reshoots might be inevitable. Don’t assume you can keep the shoot going through the night. You need to know ahead of time if the studio, your crew, rental equipment, and talent are available. Know these factors and check them throughout the day. If you need overtime and it is possible then you have that window open.

Go Ballistic and…

Freak out! Just remain calm and focus on what needs to be done and what you can control. Being on set can have the same implications as an emergency situation. Even if you are dealing with a medical emergency on set, you follow the same functions. Remain calm, contact a person who knows what to do. Then treat the situation with as much care and attention as possible.

We will wrap up this series next week with Review Photos Before Leaving.


Setting Up the Studio for Your Shoot

By | Preproduction | One Comment

Setting up the studio begins with proper planning. For this article, we will focus on an indoor studio. This is because lights are the major obstacle to obtaining the right look for your visual project. Of course, the visual arts are all about how the artist controls the flow of light in the environment. The camera is simply a catalyst to capture what you setup. Before we enter into this technical topic of exploration, let’s give a crack at the rudimentary basics.

Group Coordination

Even if you only need a photography and an inanimate subject, you need to plan the shoot. What time of day are you shooting? What angles do you need to capture? Did you test out your equipment recently or retrieve it from a reliable source? When you add in actors and crews the minutia multiplies.

Time Management for Crews

Getting your crew on the same page literally means using a similar schedule sheet. This is usually on a xeroxed spreadsheet page passed around to everyone in participation. Oh, what? We can get more 21st Century with schedules? Well, maybe you want to control your privacy so you use code. Just make sure your crew understands their arrival times.

Who Arrives at the Studio and When?

Often hair and makeup can be the first to prep the talent for a shoot. This could begin as early as Buttcrack AM as they say for shoots with special effects latex bodysuits as the reason Alan Cumming would never play Nightcrawler again. Then production crews trickle in. The Line Producer is responsible on a large scale production for scheduling shifts during a shoot. P.A.’s will accompany the crew units. Model and carpentry departments might need to set up early. Or you could book at a professional green screen studio and jump right into the next paragraph.

Filming at a Green Screen Studio

The term “fix it in post” was born long before the digital revolution. Yet, we think of all the magic we can do and we got here. No time for dilly-dallying, we got a production to arrange. Lighting is going to be the main focus of most of the crew’s efforts. Some of the things you can’t fix easily in post or really improve on are why you higher a proper production crew in the first place. You might not begin rolling until 10am but you need to set up and be ready for talent in their costume and makeup.

A Feast of Crews

Sorry for the GoT reference. Still got 16 more months until final season. Don’t forget about catering. They should be on set to feed Union crews a meal every 6 hours. But the rest of us non-unionites are die hard cinefiles who require no sleep or sustenance. Or you could arrange for some healthy snacks.

This topic to setup a studio shoot can go on in an extension of blogs. That is why it is the perfect exercise to kick off our revamped site.

Over the next couple weeks we will examine these practices for setting up the best photo/video studio shoot you can:

Next issue: Casting Talent That Sells The Image of Your Design

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