Thoughts from a shoot

It’s been a few years now since I’ve been on a video shoot. I studied media production at university and worked for a while as a runner at a TV company so I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing.I’m pretty good with this stuff’ I thought ‘I know the score’. But while we were setting up, I took a quick scan of the kit and quickly realised I had very little idea what I was looking at. Fortunately, the crew, being seasoned video-veterans knew exactly what to do and managed to get set up in a way that was somehow both casual and militarily efficient.

Despite this efficiency, video production is littered with challenges that I had all but almost forgotten. Here are the main things that struck me.

1. The world is small! Unless you’re filming in a big studio you’re very much at the mercy of your environment and the crew were amusingly adept at being part media professional, part contortionist.

2. The world is noisy! I spent a great deal of the shoot trying to stop people using hand dryers, setting off automatic doors and generally existing. As a human, it’s easy to drown out unwanted noise but microphones, it seems are much less forgiving.

3. There’s not enough hours in the day! Perhaps because of points one and two and the infinite variety of challenges that can arise, filming is a time-consuming process. Despite starting early and finishing late the planning and management of a shoot is tricky to say the least, but our Production Manager Cara did a fantastic job reacting to an ever-changing situation, adapting the schedule to make the best use of time.

This was a particularly interesting production. We were shooting an interactive, branching, POV (point of view) drama, which puts the learner directly in the shoes of the protagonist. The learner is presented with a series of decisions throughout which meant filming multiple versions of each scene to reflect the various outcomes. If engagement is the name of the game, casting your audience as the main character and giving them control of the story is about as good as it gets!

I really enjoyed being part of this project, I even bagged myself a starring role playing our protagonists hands! (Watch out Hollywood). Fun as it was, I learned that life on set is a one of long days and hard graft and I have to take my hat off to the team. As I sit here today on my comfy chair, with my massive mug of tea, I know that for them this was just another day!

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