MAKING SAFE VIDEO CONTENT
As the outbreak of COVID-19 has forced us into our homes and surrounded by devices for most days, reaching these audiences digitally is suddenly, urgently necessary for any business or organization. But how can we ensure we are doing so safely?
We here at Foundation Digital Media understand the difficulty right now in weighing the cost and risk associated with creating new video marketing content with the benefit that such content presents in a world pushed even further towards digital media.
In an effort to combat those risks, digital marketing agencies, and video production companies like ours are working their hardest to develop new strategies to minimize the potential dangers associated with in-person video content shoots. Here you’ll find a brief list of suggestions to make your shoot safer but by no means a comprehensive list of rules for your area. Please be advised to determine what laws or guidelines exist near you to ensure you are doing everything you can to safeguard your production.
MINIMIZE ESSENTIAL CREW
The most obvious way for any company or hired agency to limit risk is to actually limit the number of people exposed during your shoots. If you can make do with a single cinematographer or camera operator that can also direct the shoot and perhaps a single sound and light operator, do it.
Create more opportunities to situate crew-members apart from each other where possible. Develop new systems for remote hair & make-up work or do without it for now if you can. Stagger scheduling across departments so that crew who don’t really need to be on set can leave and return when they are required again, leaving a few key staff behind for troubleshooting if necessary.
SPREAD OUT TALENT & CALL TIMES
Obviously as is the case with the crew, so it is with talent as well. Any possible reduction in casting is categorically important, even if it’s simply a reduction in the amount of time spent on set together simultaneously.
Spacing out shooting certain spots and organizing scheduling can be an inconvenience, but critical in keeping the set as safe as possible and often easier than we like to think. Some states are even recommending using plastic screen-shielding to leave between actors or personnel during set-up and marking, to be removed at the last possible moment or never at all.
SCALE DOWN GEAR
Having a lot of sophisticated gear onset may usually seem like the right idea to keep your options open when shooting, but right now we have to scale that back as much as we can. Try to identify essential items that can be used for many situations and handle multiple facets of the production, like an LED light with its own trigger system and remote operation or easy single-user camera systems like most Canon’s, Sony’s alpha-series, and even some RED cameras and newer Blackmagic’s for example.
Utilizing more boom mics, instead of lavaliers or recorders, is another great way to always create more distance between crew and talent. Even drones are a valuable option to consider! The less gear you have on-set inevitably also means the less you have that can switch between hands, especially if crew members take care to safeguard their own equipment.
ENFORCE HAZARD PROTOCOLS ON SET
While there’s no true playbook for this kind of situation, any sanitization measure you can implement to increase the safety of your set is paramount right now. Wipe down the gear, set pieces, props, and etc. between uses as often as possible (critically if changing hands) and at the end of shoots.
Having separate, spaced-out department stations for larger shoots is also a good thing to consider. Allow, and request, all who are on set to use necessary PPE/masks when not on camera (or even then, if possible) and to employ frequent hand-washing. If your shoot requires food or craft services, switch to box lunches overspreads.
Even establishing systems for entering and exiting the set/shoot can be extremely useful in protecting those involved, from limiting shared-car travel to mapping how to move in and out of the studio.
UTILIZE MORE REMOTE WORK-FLOWS
Counter to common sense, the majority of the work associated with a video shoot can clearly be done remotely or at a distance. Basically everything included in the pre-production process (concept, writing, casting/auditions, planning & set-up) and the post-production process (DIT, editing, marketing) can be completed in almost complete isolation.
Even those necessary interactions while doing the actual shoot can be made more remote. A unique way to engage clients and tertiary personnel from a distance might be to utilize more video villages for viewing/commenting in separate places. For video production companies themselves, maintaining this distance is key even if it means less crew on sets or in the editing bays.
ANTICIPATE DELAYS AND INEFFICIENCES
Ultimately our best-laid plans will always come with kinks to be worked out on the fly. We must anticipate these delays and sunk costs when planning for our shoots so that we are still able to smoothly accomplish our goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Take care to set schedules that accommodate the extra time sanitizing and organizing, create repeatable systems for those procedures to minimize time spent on them, and be understanding when it doesn’t move as quickly or come as cheaply as you’d like. With proper planning, and of course money saved from downsizing and increased remote work, we can do our best to limit risk and increase the security of our shoots without breaking the bank or wasting time.
Get in touch today to discuss what we can do to elevate your digital marketing and video content as safely and affordably as possible!