Gear failures, lighting blunders, audio fails—video productions are rife with opportunities for things to go wrong. Here’s some simple but hard-earned wisdom on ways production crews can prevent some of the most common and costly blunders.
How production crews can prevent costly filming mistakes
1. Plan, plan, plan…and then plan some more
If you ever want your footage to make it to post-production, you have to do some pre-planning. If applicable, get location permits and talent releases signed before you even show up and have extras on hand just in case. Know what kind of tone or look you’re going for. Have a rough schedule in place to determine what scenes and shots you need.
Over-communicate to be sure you understand your client’s vision. This sets you up to execute it to the best of your ability. Anything you can do ahead of time, do it. And then be ready to adjust on the fly because there’s one guarantee: It will never go exactly as you’ve planned.
2. Know your equipment
Never put yourself in position to have to learn gear under pressure. Not only is it embarrassing fumbling around on a shoot, it can also slow down production. It’s better to use tried and true equipment than to attempt learning shiny new stuff on the fly. Give yourself enough time to get comfortable. Even if you’ve been hired to use someone else’s equipment, see if you can spend a little time ahead of the shoot learning unfamiliar gear.
3. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst
Assemble a first-aid kit of sorts. Include extra batteries, memory cards, and lightbulbs as needed. Have two sources for capturing audio in case your first choice fails. Bring weather protection for your gear even if the forecast is clear. Include a world of gaff tape. The stuff works miracles—like rigging up a makeshift backdrop or holding microphones in place.
4. If you see something, say something
A lot of magic happens in post-production, but no amount of mixing or sweetening can bring back non-existent audio or make up for a poorly-lit set. Even if you are knee-deep in an interview, be ready to interrupt. Redoing lights or waiting for disruptive wind to die down may feel inconvenient in the moment, but it saves trouble in the long run.
The bottom line
Have a back-up plan for your back-up plan, keep gaff tape and other quick fixes on hand to prevent gaffes, and don’t rely on post-production to fix preventable errors. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference.
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