17 Things I Learned Filming for a Client

by EvanJPalmer

My friends and I recently completed our first paid video editing job for a client.

In some ways it’s very different to what we usually do. So, not just a bunch of friends hanging out, drinking beer and filming whatever we wanted. This time we had people with a time constraints taking time out of their busy days, relying on us to get the correct footage.

I learnt:

  1. Make sure you have a back up power source
    It’s stressful as you see the power supply go down on your battery when the client is relying on you to be effective with their time. Make sure you have an additional power supply, or batery pack and your charger with you.
  2. Make sure you have loads of space to record all the footage you need
    Don’t run out of disk space. You don’t want disk space to be an issue for getting those awesome shots when other people’s time is at stake. Make sure you have additional memory cards and a laptop to transfer the media onto.
  3. When interviewing people, be sure to be supportive, but don’t talk about freezing on camera
    We tried to make people comfortable by saying things like “You’ll be fine. when I’m on camera, I just freak out and forget my lines, but you – you’re awesome and will be fine”. I don’t think that is the correct tactic, because it puts the thought in the talents head that people can freeze. Just don’t mention it and be super supportive.
  4. Think carefully about lighting. Use lighting that’s available, if you can’t bring your own.
    Ideally you should bring your own lighting, but remember to get it right the first time
  5. Have a director
    Someone (preferably a single person, maybe you) should act as a director. The point is that one person should be calling the shots, ensuring there is quiet on set, directing the talent and making a final call on all decisions.
  6. Be mindful of background noise
    Same with shooting anything, really, but you might not be able to re-shoot as easily
  7. If you’re unsure, retake
    Better safe than sorry!
  8. Be mindful of your client’s time
    We’ve got lots of people waiting around to be shot. Five workers, and a manager. Should I shoot the manager first? Do any of the staff need to get back to their regular duties quickly?
  9. Sync audio in post with Plural Eyes
    Plural Eyes is a beautiful piece of software that syncs up audio for you
  10. Make life easy for yourself: get it right first time
    Pay attention to light, audio, framing etc  the first time around. It’ll save you hours in post.
  11. Record lots of ambient noise
    Get it while you’re on location! As film editors will know, this stuff is invaluable for patching up audio and seaming together cuts.
  12. Be a good director
    Make sure you’re filming the best that each person can be. Give them confidence and keep an eye on their body language.
  13. Get the rough cut to the stakeholder as early as possible. This is a tough one, because you don’t want to get it to them too early – before it looks half decent. But you want feed back as fast as possible.
  14. Be more specific with time frames after each review. This means say something like, “we’ll make these changes by tuesday, and when we meet on Wednesday, we expect that you will have a very minimal change set”.
  15. Understand the script/vision as well as you can from the beginning. Read the script several times. Ask questions about it. What is trying to be conveyed in the video.
  16. Recommend stuff, but be accommodating. Ie. from our experience, we think not centering this will look nicer, but of course, if you feel strongly we can keep it there”.
  17. Keep old versions/sequences so you can “rollback” or review when necessary.
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