Marvel studios may have paused production on their next superhero blockbuster but that doesn’t mean brands are powerless when it comes to making video. That’s right it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom or Zoom for that matter. There are a number of alternative ways to crack on with video content.
It’s worth noting that lockdown restrictions are very likely to be reduced gradually – and so many of these considerations and tips can evolve as the rules do.
Goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – the number one priority is safety. So if you are planning a production of any sort, make sure you follow current guidelines where you are and consult with a professional team (like us!).
Lockdown a space
Location filming may be out the window (literally) but if you can access a closed and controlled environment then you can get on with creating content behind closed doors. At Aspect we’re fortunate to have our own on site studio space. Size is the key, so make sure the space is large enough to be able to adhere to social distancing rules at all times. Once inside that studio space some common sense practices will need to be followed – hand washing facilities being the biggie, but things like antibacterial wipes for shared equipment are a must have as well.
To give a recent example, our team produced a stop frame animation for Instax that staggered the crew’s input during the prep and shoot. The Art Director came to the studio first to set up, the gaffer arrived the following day to illuminate the set with lights, and finally the camera operator arrived to shoot with the Director observing in real time via Zoom. This one-in-one-out process takes longer than normal, but time is something we all have at the moment!
If you can safely gather a crew together in one place, then why not shoot a whole series of content in one sitting? Channel 4 recently filmed enough content for 10 home crafts programmes with Kirsty Allsopp. An 11 person team arrived at her ( large) home having strictly self isolated for 2 weeks in preparation. The team then all stay on site, observed social distancing rules (must be a really big house!) and got all 10 episodes in the can while they could.
Dialing in and doubling up
More often than not, our clients attend shoots so they can oversee what is being captured by the team. It’s always especially important when it comes to unscripted testimonials and the use of a product.
We had a shoot planned in March for women’s health brand Intimina. On the edge of lockdown, we could no longer go with the flow and have the client fly in for the shoot. So when it came to interviewing our contributors, Intimina joined live via Zoom. By hooking up our camera monitors the client could watch each take as it happened from the safety of their homes in Sweden while our scaled down crew observed social distancing rules and conducted the interviews.
But that wasn’t the only challenge. The day before the shoot our Director fell ill (luckily a common cold) but this served to highlight another important consideration – understudies! Luckily we had a second Director in place ready to come off the subs bench. This is worth noting especially when restrictions start to relax somewhat – it’s important that key members of the production team have an understudy ready to step in if needed. That may mean briefing and having freelance crew members on standby or having second casting choices ready just in case.
It’s just another way to be prepared for unforeseen complications. And one thing we’ve learned recently is to expect the unexpected!
There will of course be some creative limits on what you can produce with scaled down crews and limited spaces. But limitation is the mother of all invention and with some lateral thinking, many challenges can still be overcome. Yes, talent may have to apply their own make-up, but with a professional make-up artist giving a step by step Zoom tutorial, things shouldn’t look too scary at all.