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Whether you’re working on producing an event video or a creative piece, planning your agenda for the day is key in helping to ensure you make the most out of the time spent shooting.

It’s important to start out by setting reasonable expectations for what is achievable in a single day of filming. Most production companies charge by the half- or full-day. You’d be surprised by how quickly time seems to fly by on the day of your shoot. If you’ve set unreasonable expectations for the day (in your budget, video quality expectations, etc.) you may have to make some compromises by raising your budget or going down on video quality as you cut back on shots.

Having a proper agenda can help you avoid these issues, or at least help set the expectation for what’s possible on the day of your shoot. Here is some advice we like to offer our clients as they plan their project with us.

1. Setup

Setup times can vary, depending on the type of production we’re working on and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you are filming a creative production with testimonial interviews, the shoot may require three-point lighting, two cameras, and audio. You should budget anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half for set-up.

You may be wondering, “Why does it take so long to get set up?” We have to take several things into consideration as we put everything together. First, there’s the environment we’re shooting in. A lot of times there are shifting issues that occur on a shoot, and it takes time to adjust to them. There are a lot of shoots where, even with the best-laid plans, things go awry.

For example, we recently arrived on-set to film a video for a corporate client. The plan was to shoot in a conference room, but the space was surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows which were impossible to black out. The day was partly cloudy and windy, which meant light exposure was changing throughout the shoot, messing with the shot.

Sometimes noise winds up being a huge issue. Something as simple as an HVAC system that you can’t control, with blowers rolling on and off throughout the shoot, will ruin the audio for your video. Or perhaps there is unplanned construction happening in a neighboring office. These are things that simply can’t be planned for, but they can be accommodated if you have realistic expectations going into your shoot.

You’ll also have to plan for the time it’ll take to just make the set look good. Sometimes, setting up a room is more than just putting up lights and testing audio. We want to make sure everything is perfect and that the background looks nice. This may mean rearranging an entire bookshelf, adding or removing decorations, or clearing the clutter off of desks in the background.

All of these circumstances take time. If you provide that to your team, you’re going to elevate your production. That’s why we recommend an hour to an hour and a half for setup.

To accommodate for any unforeseen setbacks, you could up your budget and bring more crew on to speed up the setup process and to get more hands involved when it comes to making last second changes due to environmental issues. Of course, if it’s not in your budget to do so, you risk winding up with a lower quality video should we run into something we weren’t anticipating. Again, you have to weigh the pro’s and con’s and go into your shoot with realistic expectations.

2. Breakdown

Now, breakdown at the end of the day typically isn’t as much of a concern as setup if we’re staying in one place, unless the space is going to be used by someone else and you need the video crew cleared out by a certain time. But what if you’re doing a film shoot where you’re moving to multiple locations throughout the day?

If you budget back-to-back shoots in office one, office two, and office three with no time for moving the equipment, you’re certainly going to fall behind, and fast. This even applies to documentary-style B-roll where we’re not looking at a ton of setup and are just relying on a roving team walking around with a tripod or gimbal. It still takes time to walk from room to room, stage the shots if need be, get the people in the room comfortable so they’re less focused on the camera operator hovering over them and more focused on just being natural on-film, etc.

Even if it’s just five or ten minutes each time, those minutes tend to add up fast. That’s why we tend to recommend 20 to 30 minutes of time for staging shots, even for a pretty simple setup in each space. If we’re moving locations, factor in the time of travel, how long it’ll take to tear down and pack up the car, potential traffic, and anything else that might take time. And remember, this time will be cutting into the amount of content we can get in a day…which takes us back to setting realistic expectations of what can be accomplished in a day when creating your schedule.

3. Meals

This may seem self-serving, but the reality is that your video team consists of people, and those people need to be able to take a break and eat.

Working time into your shoot for a meal is really important. Now, that meal doesn’t need to be an hour-plus of sitting down to a fancy spread, but you should also factor in the time it’ll take to order and get the food delivered.

So, if your budget includes craft services, this is something that our team will handle and ensure it gets taken care of. If your team decides to take responsibility for the meals, we recommend having someone order that meal at least 45 minutes before the planned time for eating. That way there’s no loss in time. Our team can end whatever the shoot was that’s on the agenda, sit down, eat for 45 minutes, and get right back to work.

Little details like this are really key, especially when we’re talking about event production. Think about a person who is working a 10-hour day, after only having time to eat breakfast. There’s a higher likelihood that they are going to be making mistakes and not be as focused on the task at hand.

Don’t leave your video crew with rumblies in their tumblies!

Typically, corporate and educational events already have a built-in meal time, but sometimes you may want to have those meals filmed (think about a high-end corporate gala with clients, where you want to demonstrate the amenities that you provide at your events in your recap film.) In this scenario, your best bet would be to budget for multiple shooters, and to split the team up into staggered schedules so that you always have someone manning the cameras while the other team takes a break. Talk to your catering staff to get a meal out earlier for your vendors. This way, your photo and video team can focus on capturing that content without ruining the audio with their rumbly tumblies.

With the right amount of planning, your shoot can go off without a hitch. All it takes is an open mind, a willingness to be realistic about your expectations, and an understanding that this is the real world. Things are unpredictable, and issues will come up that you didn’t expect. With the right team and plan in place, you’ll be amazed at the product we’ll be able to create for you.