These are the words that you dream of speaking growing up as a hopelessly fanatical movie buff. You dream of the feel of the director’s chair under you, the anticipation of the grind of the set. You envisage the role of director to be one of simply issuing instruction and being blindly followed.
What you don’t think of is all that goes on before and after those immortal words are spoken to make the production happen.
The need for video content on websites and associated online platforms has gone through the roof in recent years. Most businesses that two years ago weren’t even entertaining the idea of video are now willing participants, so what goes into it, and how does it all work?
We always try and start the process by having a one on one meeting at the premises of the client that wants a video made. We ask a lot of questions and try and quickly learn the ins and outs of the company. All the videos we make are tailored, so we firmly believe we must understand the content before we roll cameras.
From here we come back to the office and de brief the team on what we have been shown, what we have heard and what truly caught our imagination. A number of ideas are then thrown around until we decide on the most appropriate for the job. This can be either as short and fruitful or long and drawn out process. This is also a very funny process; a room full of creative people all trying to come up with the golden idea.
Part of the concept for the video is working through, based on experience, all the elements required to bring an idea for creation to realization. This is where it pays to have a team with a broad knowledge base and over 70 years combined experience.
Then it is time to start getting down on paper a structure for this concept to roll out. Structure then turns into scripting. This is when the most research is undertaken. We need to study the client, their clients and the potential market for the video in order to get the messages and phrasing right. This area can take some time and we will always get this aspect signed off by the client before we progress any further.
Once we have approval on the scripting we set about planning out the shot. This is where we figure who, what and where. We can mobilise any number of cast and crew at this stage. This includes a Director, a Producer, a Director of Photography, a Second and Third Camera, Talent, Presenters, a Production Assistant, Sound Recordist, Make Up, Lighting, Catering, Stylists, Ward Robe, Set Designer and the list goes on.
The following stage is relatively simple compared to all the preparation, but it is also the stage that you realise if you have prepared well enough. It’s filming time. The filming process is by far the most enjoyable aspect of the process. It is when you really get to know your clients. Most people are surprised at the speed at which we film. The reason we are fast is because we are prepared and planned. The size of the production will govern the amount of cast and crew you have on set. We are totally ready to transform any boardroom, meeting room, smoko shed or factory floor into a set and away we go. We make a promise at the start of the day to make sure we return the venue to the way it was, and we always keep our promises.
The cameraman will always look at the venue in terms of the best angle to shoot. The producer will always have one eye on the clock and the other eye on their clipboard which will hold a number of pages of material none but themselves will ever understand.
The production assistant will be frantic doing the work of three people and the sound recordist as always will remain calm and focused and look to be doing nothing at all.
The director at this stage will make sure the team is ready. It may be that their time is spent coaching a novice how to present to camera or discussing with a trained actor what the expectation of their performance is. The Director will also spend time looking at shots with the cameraman, discussing who is going to talk and when to the sound recordist and importantly emphasizing the right amount of frothed milk to add to the lattes that are set to be bought during the day by the assistant.
Quite often the script is reviewed at this stage due to the space being different than imagined or a shot just not being possible. It is important that the storyline is well known to all crew and the integrity of key messaging is maintained.
And then it is time to roll. This is usually the time when every plane, helicopter and train in the region decides to descend in a flurry of noise to halt shooting. It is a game of patience. We want the shots and the audio to be perfect and we wait until these factors are right.
At the end of the shoot we have a de4brief, ensuring everything is covered. If we have performed an interview as part of the project we will busy ourselves around the shoot venue getting plenty of overlay, which is just a fancy word for vision of the place to roll as the interview happens.
Then it is pack up time, this is a long process. It’s kind of like going away for a night with a newborn baby. The car is overflowing with gear and you need to pack for every contingency.
Once safely back in our studio we ingest the footage into our system. Then comes the edit.
The initial edit is created by assembling all our footage on a really long timeline. We then start by constructing our story, based entirely on what our script says and what we shoot.
The initial edit is a long process and the fact that all filming is done in high definition makes for very large data files on our systems.
The next step is creating a draft edit. We get all of the content into shape, we add in all the pretty pictures we have taken, add in our recorded voice over track if required, select a music track, edit that so it rise4s and falls with the action o0n screen and add it in.
We then colour grade the material. This means we take each individual shot and add in natural colours to bring out the warmth of the vision and make it look speccy. Finally we send this copy to our client for their first look. As standard practice we like to keep the client involved in all aspects of the process. At this stage if we need adjustments they are made.
The final video is then mastered out and delivered to the delighted client and put on a website, a you tube channel, social media or a host of other platforms.
So next time you hear the Director say “that’s a wrap”, you know they are indicating that the whole endeavor is around half finished.