We regularly work for other production companies whether they are local, interstate or even international. In many cases representatives from your company are not able to be present at a shoot, and you rely on us to represent you professionally and get great results. In this blog post I will describe this process to you.
The first step is preproduction.
I like to get as much information I can about the project, as the more information I have about a project the better I can understand your intentions, in terms of what you are trying to achieve with your project. Sometimes a brief is supplied, however in some cases more information about the project is required. It is beneficial to have answers to the following questions as it will have implications on the style of shooting, the lighting and shooting formats.
What is the purpose of the video?
What is the content/key messages that you want to get across?
As a freelance cameraman that is essentially a gun for hire, it is helpful to know the intentions of the producer/director and how you are planning to use of the footage that I shoot. Specifically, I need to know whether there is a specific style of shooting that would enhance the project, such as: handheld camerawork, the use of long lenses or specific framing etc. This is because the more I can find out about the project, the easier it is to film it in the style that you are looking for.
– Documentary style – Informative program with a voice-over narration
– Lecture – Visuals, usually with narration or presenter
– TV Magazine – Presenter provides information in sections, in an informal style
– News – Presenter provides information on different topics, in a formal style
– Drama or role-play reconstruction – A story (fact or fiction) produced using actors to play the characters amd narration in some cases
– Product trailer/elevator pitch – Short 1-2 minute video
– Customer testimonial
– Corporate Officer Executive Presentation
In a similar way, it is important to discuss with the Director the overall “tone” of the video and the desired impact of the video on an audience. Some examples of tone:
– High Energy/Medium Energy/Low Energy
It is also extremely helpful if you can send though a link to a reference video online that is similar to the video that you want to create. This can be a very quick way to ensure that we are on the same page in terms of the style/tone that you are seeking for the video, and that we get a really clear understanding of what is required. It is also worth discussing the desired look of the video, and whether there is a specific lighting style that would suit the project. Some examples of lighting style are as follows:
Knowing the answers to these questions helps me to make decisions about which camera and lights to use, and if any other specific equipment will be needed for the shoot. It will also help me to determine whether there are any other technical elements that need to be considered for the project.
As a freelance cameraman it is also helpful for me to know exactly what my role is on the day of filming and how my work will be used, so that I can plan for the shoot and bring along the right equipment for the job. In this respect, it is helpful to know the answers to the following:
-Will I be the sole camera operator on this project?
-Am I part of a team?
-Am I responsible for recording sound?
-Am I responsible for providing lighting?
-Any specific equipment required?
-Will my footage need to cut together with the footage from another camera?
-Will I be required to shoot in a specific picture profile?
-Will my footage need to cut together with interviews, stock footage etc?
In terms of the filming location, I will ensure that I find out the precise address and whether there are any access issues to consider. This will make sure there isn’t anything that will slow us down on the day in terms of access.
Similarly it is helpful to know whether parking will be provided, and if not whether there are any nearby parking garages. In some cases I am bringing a lot of equipment with me, and need to determine where the ramps and elevators are. These factors will help me to ensure that I am at the location at the required time, ready to begin filming.
It is also helpful to know if you want to film at particular locations (within the location), or at specific angles – as this will help me to make an assessment in terms of the direction of the sun and whether any specific lighting will be required for those shots. This will ensure that we are efficient with our time on the day of filming.
Where you are providing a schedule for the days filming, its helpful to see this in advance so that I may ask questions and make suggestions. Such suggestions may be in regard to the amount of shots to be captured within a given timeframe, and whether that is a realistic timeframe. I may also make requests / suggestions as to the order that the shots are to be captured – as in some cases it may be better to shoot the exteriors of a location in the morning when the sun is hitting the building from the front rather than the afternoon when it is in shade.
Its always helpful to know the delivery requirements from the outset, in terms of the format / codec that you require. In some cases there is a specific codec that footage needs to be captured in, such as Apple Prores or at a specific resolution such as 4K.
Similarly there may be a request that the footage is captured in a log picture profile such as S-log2. Where you are unsure of the specific technical requirements, it is worth considering the destination for the video and the presentation format. The following are some common destinations for video:
– Your website with hosting via Wistia / Youtube / Vimeo
– Another web video platform
– Social networking sites (FaceBook, Twitter, Linkedin)
– PowerPoint Presentations
– Email link / video embeded in email
– For broadcast on television
– Cinema advertising
Finally, it is important to determine beforehand how you will take possession of the footage. In some cases its convenient to transfer the footage to your laptop / hard drive at the conclusion of the shoot. In other cases, I can place all of the raw footage onto a hard drive and have it shipped to you.
As you can see, the key to a successful relationship with a freelance cameraman is excellent planning and the provision of extensive information about the project requirements. This will ensure that the freelance cameraman fully understands the project and your plan for how the footage will be used.