Video is an amazing medium. It has become a huge part of our culture. From a religious standpoint it is being integrated into our church environments, teaching, and homes. There are a few resources out there that do it well in the Christian world, but as it becomes more prevalent we will all begin to feel the need for more personalized content. Especially in light of the fact that the affordability of doing video well continues to increase.
This is my attempt to download the things I have learned over the years from friends in the industry as well as trial and error. This 10-minute film school should give you an easy to follow workflow to help bring your video production quality and quantity up. I welcome any tips and tricks, as well as criticism’s you may have as I am still learning also.
The 3 Biggies
The most important things in video are content, preparation, and audio – in that order. Content is paramount; before you even get to recording or editing you have a lot of creation and planning to go through.
When I say content it encompasses quite a few things. Usually you start with a point you are trying to make. Before you start writing anything make sure you have thoroughly thought through the point. Many times when this critical step is missed you end up traveling down a lot of rabbit holes. Firm up the point first. Once you know the point develop a problem and a solution in some form or another to carry the people watching to the point. Tell a story; we aren’t making instructional films from the 80’s for new employees (hopefully). The medium of video has been well defined as a story telling device, otherwise you could just teach it from the stage. Make sure your story does a better job of teaching the point than just someone speaking the point. Once you have the story build characters and scenes. The more energy you put into this the better both your actors and your shots will look. In the church world many times you will be working with volunteers so sometimes you may have a person who can help develop their own character, but better to err on the safe side and give them as much info as possible as to who their character is and why they are doing the things they are doing.
I am going to combine a few things here because in my experience the complexity of the videos we shoot at our church are such that they can be combined, but if you ever undertake a larger project and feel the pinch of the combination please do split them up. In my world usually story boarding includes shot lists, storyboards, and timelines.
Shot lists are basically a literal list of every camera angle for every scene of the video written out. Be very meticulous if it is the same angle but goes from a medium shot to a close up shot those are two different shots.
Storyboards are small and simple graphical representations of the shot list. I usually develop these together and if the project is small enough I actually story board in a single sheet of paper.
Timelines are tricky in our world. With the large amount of volunteers we use as actors, camera operators, and boom operators etc. even when it would be better to shoot out of sequence I don’t. Although I lose time because I set the same areas up more than once I make up for it with a lack of re-shoots. I avoid re-shoots at all costs because everyone for the most part is giving their free time to work with me so I would rather work them longer for one day than try and be more efficient just to end up calling them back on another day. I always want to under promise and over deliver when I am working with volunteers, or ever for that matter. Write out a timeline for your shots. Basic rule of thumb is that if you write in script format each page is a minute of video, and each minute of video is at least 30 minutes of shooting, so 6 pages equals a 3 hour shoot. I always try to take my pretty accurate number and multiply by 1.3 and round to the nearest half so for a 6 page scripts I’d say no less than 4 hours. That builds a buffer for the unexpected and you should expect the unexpected.
Once you’ve made it this far you get into preparation. This is fairly simple, find actors, find locations, find gear. Set your locations and volunteers up. And here is a simple gear list:
- Camera’s – notice the plurality; since you’re shooting in order to use multiple cameras. We use iPhones all the time as secondary and tertiary cameras on a scene.
- 3 point lighting – buy a kit, or build a makeshift one. We used a makeshift kit for years and it is better than no lights even in bright environments.
- Shotgun Mic – Of the entire list spend money here FIRST
- Sandbags, bounce boards, and clamps
If you can get those things in any form you’ll be putting out great videos in no time.
Regardless of camera’s, lighting, actors, or location you can take any produced video to another level with good audio. People ALWAYS underestimate audio. I’d rather film on an Android cellphone with a good shotgun mic, than on a red epic with sub par audio equipment.
Now Shoot that video.
Once you have your footage here is a quick “source to product” workflow:
- Pull the audio and video into your favorite editing software.
- Do a rough cut of the entire video. Choose a few trustworthy and analytical people and have them watch it and give input, more brains means better video.
- Next clean your cut up.
- Color correct the video so that all the shots have the same general color feel.
- Color grade for artistic purposes.
- Now export your video.
Here are a few key things to remember:
- Get everyone involved to buy in and own part of the project. The best videos are built by a group of people who have all bought in.
- Everything will take longer than you anticipate.
- Keep your transitions simple. Nothing says amateur like pointless wipes or diamond fades, Jump cuts are all you need unless they have a very intentional purpose.
- 3 point lighting refers to having three lights for a subject. One spot(key), one fill, and one back light to help separate a subject form its background.
- Be good to your volunteers, feed them, and do your best to keep them from standing around.
- Talk through each shot once before shooting.
- A rough cut is just a quickly thrown together clip video of the shots and scenes in order.