Jan 7, 2021
Creative filmmakers, YouTube creators, and corporate videographers all have a lot in common.
No, I don’t just mean the amount of time you spend editing in Premiere Pro. Or the number of conversations you have about your kit (or filming accessories). Or how often you check the price on that lens.
One thing content creators share is a struggle to get the most out of every single video shoot. And since it’s such a common issue, it’s something that everyone — even veteran filmmakers — can always learn more about.
Earlier this year, Soundstripe surveyed more than 1,000 filmmakers about their process, their struggles, and their go-to equipment. One thing that stood out is what obstacles most creators deal with: 38% said time management, and 32% said budget.
Both of these things have widespread effects. Budget constraints could limit the gear you buy, the locations you travel to, and the amount of help you recruit.
Time management, on the other hand, can negatively impact all of that, or force you to release videos you aren’t proud of simply because the deadlines weren’t realistic.
These struggles keep you from doing your best work.
And that’s the kind of issue that nobody wants, and certainly not creatives with a clear vision and a passion for their work. It puts even more pressure on you to get the most out of everything, from gear to time to budget.
...which is why we’re here. By thinking about how you prepare for and go into a project, you can help overcome those obstacles. You still might struggle with budget or time management, but if you can get the most out of video shoots, you’ll put yourself in a better position to turn every video into something you’re proud of.
On average, filmmakers spend around 45% of a project in the pre-production phase. Planning and brainstorming are an exciting part of any creative project, but they are just as important for client work.
The only way to get the most out of a shoot — capture the best footage, grab the best audio, and give yourself the flexibility to seek out creative shots — is by thinking through everything.
You don’t have to scope out possible locations or draw up Disney-level storyboards; even a little bit of pre-production can go a long way. And you’ll never regret the time you spent preparing for an upcoming shoot.
The easiest way to cut production costs and get the most out of video shoots is to take advantage of all of the free tools out there. That’s particularly useful during pre-production, whether you’re trying to organize a team for an upcoming shoot or figure out what all you need for which stage of the project.
For example, something like a storyboard template or a shot list template can help you keep track of your ideas. You don’t have to use them, or treat them like the Ten Commandments of pre-production. But they’ll help you keep track of ideas and avoid wasting time on set/location.
This one should probably be a no-brainer. But if you’re planning to shoot an interview for a freelance job, you don’t want to bring your steadicam rig — you bring a tripod.
Think of it like the old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Having the right equipment shows professionalism, and it also means you won’t have to scramble to solve a problem if something changes.
Sound quality matters — a lot.
If you’re a one-person film crew, you might not have the time (or the equipment) to capture perfect audio at a video shoot. But investing in the best microphone you can afford will raise the overall quality level of your footage.
One easy thing that you can do is capture background audio from every location you shoot at.
Show up early, or stay late. (Which you should do anyway.) Set up your mic to record ambient noise, and let it roll for a few minutes. It could be something as simple as birds in a backyard, the white noise of a house’s refrigerator, or the hum of a nearby highway.
There are certain pieces that you can’t recreate from home. If you’re putting all of your effort into getting all the footage you need from your video shoot, you’ll want to treat audio the same way. And who can’t afford a few extra minutes of recording some background noise?
It’s too late to reshoot footage once you’re back home and editing your work. So get in the habit of reviewing the video you shoot — it’s a simple way to be more efficient during video shoots.
Interviewees and on-screen talent might complain about redoing a scene, but they’ll be a lot more irritable if you need to reschedule the entire shoot because something went wrong. So while this might be a simple fix, it’s an easy step towards cutting out the avoidable issues that so many other filmmakers have dealt with.
(And yes, this does happen. Even if you’ve avoided that kind of mistake before, you don’t want your first time to happen during your dream video. Or worse, during a big project for a nitpicky client…)
Okay, so this list is all about what you can do to squeeze every little bit of success from your video shoots. And all of it matters, because it’ll make you a more efficient and productive filmmaker.
But if we’re honest, we both know you're not perfect. You won’t always get every shot you need, or get enough b-roll, or capture the perfect ambient noise to fill that weird silence in your footage.
The good news is you don’t have to be perfect. Stock media exists for the sole purpose of helping creators fill the gaps in their work.
Royalty free music can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on setting a good emotional tone. Stock video can replace b-roll, giving you perfect establishing shots without needing a drone or a second shooter or a $15,000 macro lens. And royalty free sound effects can add that depth of sound you realize you needed, but just couldn't record on location.
Of course, stock media isn’t the end-all, be-all solution. You could argue that none of these tips — or the whole list together — is guaranteed to make your video shoots better. There’s no band-aid to help filmmakers avoid every budget and time management issue.
But what I can promise you is that knowing about these issues will help. Getting the most out of video shoots will be a big advantage in the long run.
It makes sense that you want to avoid mistakes that less-experienced creators trip over all the time. Because when it comes to spending more time doing the stuff you love, every tip matters.