As states are starting to re-open their economies and entering the first phase of COVID-19 recovery, people are starting to schedule video productions. While companies want to create video marketing assets, they’re turning to production companies, like ASL Productions, to create safe, socially distanced production environments. That being said, clients and agencies alike want to participate in shoots without a crowded set and a risk-free environment. That’s why for our recent shoot with an agency partner, Attention Global, we created a remote video production.
Attention’s campaign centered around filming a professional golfer with diabetes. Our goal was to showcase the benefits of their blood sugar testing device. The device allows people with diabetes to test their blood without pricking their fingers. We documented the golfer on the course and in his home. It was easy enough to socially distance while filming on the golf course. Utilizing long, zoom lenses, our operators were able to get all of the necessary coverage. Filming in his home was a different story. Having a large production crew invade his home was out of the question. Multiple people participating in the shoot from agency and client wasn’t realistic. The only way we could pull of the shoot was to create a filming environment to facilitate a remote video production.
Apple recently created a remote video production: an ad that depicts how people are using their products to stay creative during the pandemic.
Key Ingredients For Success
The basic recipe for a successful remote video production is a power supply, a strong internet signal and a digital to analog converter. The converter allows you to use the camera as a video source in meeting platforms like Zoom or Teams. On the golf course, we used a common generator as a power supply. A Mifi hotspots allowed us to strengthen our internet signal. Mifi works by using a cellular network to act as a hotspot for up to 10 devices. This option is user-friendly and great for a budget conscious production and allows uninterrupted viewing on video conference streams. An alternative option is a product like Live-U which utilizes multiple cell signals for an increased internet signal wherever you’re filming.
We also used a Teradek to wirelessly send the video signal from the camera to the laptop. Our operator can then film any angle necessary to get full coverage of our shot list. At ASL we can provide multiple budget options for remote productions without losing the advantages of having the client on site.
A Remote Video Production Is Safer
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, clients and agencies may have balked at the idea of a remote video production. But now, with the fear of coronavirus transmission and social distancing necessary during shoots, remote oversight of production is inevitable.
Our talent would’t allow a full production team, including agency and client reps, in his home while filming. We wouldn’t want to walk that line either. Having 10-15 people in an enclosed area would be risking their health, no matter the size of our subjects home.
On top of that, airline travel is not an activity many people feel comfortable with right now. So, if there is an opportunity to collaborate with the video production remotely, teams of people who don’t live in the filming area can participate without having to get on a plane.
A much smaller crew on set, maintained social distancing, and the promise of a sterilized environment assures the client that the shoot will be safe.
Less People on Set But More Can Participate
Beyond the reasons we needed to provide a remote video production, there are inherent benefits to having a minimal presence on location. There would normally only be a few members of the agency and client teams available to fly out to the shoot. With a remote video production, more members of both teams are able to watch and communicate with the production crew.
Remote video production could also be more productive and more efficient. With fewer members on site, the rest of the crew would manage more projects remotely as they are not fully devoted to one particular task at the shoot.
Our director was participating in the shoot via video conferencing. We organized the agency and client team in one meeting room and the camera team in another. All parties had direct view of a monitor that displayed the shot our DP was executing. The director took creative notes from the agency and client team in a Zoom meeting and directly communicated with our camera team in a Google Hangout. Our DP was wearing Airpods while filming. This provided our director instant communication while viewing the live shot on Zoom and giving notes in the ear of our DP. They could immediately discuss what scene was next on the schedule or if a scene should be re-shot. Our streamlined remote direction provided a smooth, clear means of communication between agency and client viewing remotely and our production team on the ground.
Saving Money Works For Everyone
Another benefit of remote video production is the fact that it saves money on production costs. Not only do the agency and client save money on travel and lodging costs, but reduced crew sizes also keeps cost low for production. Smaller crews equate to less travel, less per diem, less meal costs etc. Although this does requires crew members to wear multiple hats, ASL has experienced, talented partners across the country.
Video Quality Doesn’t Take A Hit
It’s natural to assume that less people on set overseeing the production means the quality of video might be diminished. But that is not the case when you properly organize and produce your shoot. To prevent a loss in quality, organization is key. By using technologies like multiple video conferencing, clearly defining communication trees and having the ability to watch live as shots are in action, ASL avoids the trappings that could lead to a production of reduced quality.
Video conference meetings are necessary throughout the preproduction process to ensure all team members are on the same page. During these meetings, we create processes, define roles and lock in schedules. Then, our team is able to put together all the pieces in post-production. This heightened process is similar to producing a video in non pandemic times. Also, as previously mentioned, ASL has a talented team of operators and video producers across the country. Because of this, we are able to adapt to new circumstances and be more efficient to ensure quality is upheld and, in certain circumstances, approved upon.
For now, remote video production is the safest and best way to proceed with video productions. Who knows if remote agency participation, smaller crew size and remote direction will persist after the threat of COVID-19. I do know that no matter when, where or how a video production takes place, ASL is ready and able to help bring that vision to life!