Our video team has shot hundreds of hours of footage featuring the best college wrestlers in the nation among thousands of cheering fans. We’ve ventured into fire testing rooms to capture a roaring blaze being snuffed out by world-renowned fire extinguishers. We’ve visited farms across the Midwest to showcase growers producing next-gen crops on generational farms. We’ve talked with kids battling illness and their families to showcase how an annual holiday light display fundraiser can impact a nonprofit. We’ve camped out at shooting locations to ensure we’re in the right place to capture the exact moment the sun rises.
Each video production is unique and requires our video team to get creative so they can capture the most compelling footage. In the first installment of our Behind the Scenes series, we shared how preproduction planning helps capture the most quality footage. But that’s only the first step to ensure everything goes as planned during video shoots.
Whether shooting in Trilix’s studio or traveling, our team needs the right gear. That means we’ve got to plan ahead to make sure batteries are charged and memory cards are cleared. The Trilix van gets stocked with backup gear, lenses, lights, tripods, microphones and a variety of other sound equipment. Our crew has traveled as far away as California, New York and Florida to shoot video, and preparing the equipment before those shoots could entail two or three days of packing.
Once you get on set, you can’t be caught without the proper equipment.
“Once you get on set, you can’t be caught without the proper equipment,” said James Drescher, Trilix senior producer and cinematographer. “All the gear has a designated spot in our van so you can visually check if you’ve got the right equipment. Every case is color-coded so we know if we’re shooting something with audio, we need to have the yellow case. If I don’t have the green case, I’m not going to have the right lenses.”
No matter the subject, we ensure the setting fits the story and our timing is precise. We also may spend multiple days setting up scenes for video shoots. For instance, our team recently rented an Airbnb for a video shoot with hired talent. They spent a full day preparing the space before the shoot to visualize a lived-in home and to stage the proper lighting and sound equipment.
We have to be where the action is to capture accurate, emotional footage.
“We have to be where the action is to capture accurate, emotional footage,” Sydney Dhabalt, video producer and editor, reflected. “If we’re interviewing someone, the backdrop usually shows their environment. For events, we obviously need to be there. If we’re shooting for a client in the agriculture industry, we need to capture video of the crop at the right stage of growth.”
While our preparations are extensive, our cinematographers may need to roll with the cameras — so to speak — as the shooting environment or video subjects may require adaptation. Interviewing, especially, can alter the course of a story and require producers to improvise. For instance, the allotted time for an interview has to be cut short, or the interview becomes a much more integral part of the story than originally planned.
“The story should always be outlined before the shoot, but there are plenty of times it needs to change,” James said. “You’ve got to be able to read the interviewee. If they're doing really well, you want to add to the questions to see where the story goes. There are times we learn something that changes the entire course of the video, and we have to communicate that to the video editor so they know how to set up the story.”
Though securing compelling interviews helps advance a storyline, b-roll is just as important. B-roll footage shares details about the environment, portrays action and helps set the tone and pace of a piece. Our producers may spend 50 percent of a shoot gathering b-roll.
B-roll is so important to setting the scene and illustrating what the subjects may be talking about. We can use voiceover from an interview while complementing the information and story with b-roll to give the audience more information and keep them engaged.
“B-roll is so important to setting the scene and illustrating what the subjects may be talking about,” James said. “We can use voiceover from an interview while complementing the information and story with b-roll to give the audience more information and keep them engaged.”
And while the COVID-19 pandemic has upended how we do business, it’s especially difficult for our video producers who do their best work on site. However, they’ve taken several measures to keep our staff and clients safe during shoots, including splitting up gear and designating shooting partners to minimize the number of video team members who could potentially be exposed to the virus. They’ve also shot several videos via video live stream.
Interested in learning more about how our team creates award-winning videos? Stay tuned for the third installment of our Behind the Scenes series where we’ll detail editing.