Our Recent MIT Shoot

Live Video Shoot

On Friday, July 20, SVG spent the day at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where several students were able to discuss the acclaimed TIES program, or Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management. TIES allows students to explore commercialization and technology-based innovation, as well as the establishment of technology-based businesses (MIT). While some of the interviewees gave insight into their own dissertation processes, others expounded upon how the program paves the way for a successful career.

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SVG Shoot

MIT Shoot Jul. 20, 2017

The shoot took place in the Sloane School of Management, which had an excellent view of Boston and the Charles River, as well as plenty of natural light. Pre-production consisted of holding phone calls with everyone who was interviewed in order for their deliveries to sound and look natural, as well as to overall improve the video. Call time was at 8, and the production crew had to work quickly in order to light the space and set up the shots. The typical lighting strategy is to light the talent from three separate sources, also known as key, back, and fill. For this shoot, the natural light came from the windows, taped over with a gel in order to diffuse the harsh sunlight. Additionally, a trio of LED lights with various diffusions were used to supplement the key and fill. For most corporate video shoots, LED lights are the most cost effective and manageable choice, especially when factoring in color temperature and light control.

Live Sound Mixing

Sound recording is one of the most important aspects when it comes to shooting. A shotgun microphone was positioned in front of the talent in order to clearly pick up their voice. Also, a lavaliere microphone was attached to their clothing – therefore providing additional sound coverage, and also allowing the crew to record room tone, or ambience.

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The shoot operated on a tight knit schedule, with each interviewee being given approximately thirty minutes to speak. The ease and comfort with which they spoke highlights the importance of the pre-production process, and how necessary it is to establish a direct line of communication. With the help of a professional videographer, a production assistant, and the director & producer being present on set, the shoot was a definite success.

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

My Pre-Production Process

What is Pre-Production?

For any video, the pre-production process is inherently unique to every individual. As an intern at SVG for the summer, I have been given the opportunity to make a video that depicts SVG’s message in an original fashion. As a Film and Television student at Boston University, I could not be more excited, because this is the first time I will be producing content for a company, rather than for a class or personal project.

Pre-Production Planning

For this particular endeavor, I want to make sure that my style as a content creator is apparent, and the first step is establishing the message that I want to communicate, and then figuring out the most creative or captivating way to achieve that goal. After developing a few ideas, I decided to shift towards a personalized direction, in which SVG’s story is told from an intimate perspective. I believe that every business has a story, and touching upon the moving and engaging aspects that they are built upon brings to light the values, traditions, and hopes that are not always visible to a general audience. The video’s format will be interview-like, and some of the talking points are as follows:

  • SVG is a Boston Video Production Company, why was this business started? Why Boston?
  • What makes video the most important medium of communication? Why is it so impactful?
  • What are the biggest obstacles SVG has faced? How have they contributed to our success?
  • What story do we want to tell as we help others tell their own? What is the most important aspect of running a business?

Why is Pre-Production Important?

video marketing company

Once the idea is developed, the next step is organizing shoot dates, gathering equipment, and recruiting people to help on set. Even though this is a corporate video, the equipment will be relatively simple – a DSLR camera and audio equipment that I will use to record voiceover and any other sound effects I might need. The shoot should take a full day, and will take place in mid to late July, in time for the editing process to be finished by early August. In addition to having a developed idea, maintaining organization both on and off set is essential. For anyone producing a video, an extra measure to take is making a call sheet to give to the talent and crew, which accounts for starting and wrap times, weather, location, and any other important details.

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

The Importance of Backing Up Footage

For any professional video crew, backing up footage, or, saving it in more than one place, is an important step in the production process. In doing so, it ensures that in the event of an emergency the footage that is irreplaceable can be salvaged by saving it someplace else. There are several things that can go wrong with a computer, including:

  • Hard drive failure
  • Theft
  • Physical damage to the computer
  • Infection from a virus
  • Computer crash

A normal backup is creating a duplicate copy of all the footage, which is especially useful if the original becomes damaged, corrupted, or lost. There are several examples of backup devices, but since video occupies so much data, the best option is to invest in a more extensive option. The price depends on how much space is needed, but even the most expansive options are relatively inexpensive. The three best examples are as follows:

Canon EOS 650D

Canon EOS 650D

  • An SD Card is the first form of protection. When footage is recorded, it automatically saves to the SD Card. For the entirety of the post-production process, it is wise to keep the footage on the SD Card in case something goes wrong. As a last resort, the original footage can be found on the card, and the editors can start from scratch.
  • Flash-Drives often hold megabytes of data, a good choice for sound footage, music, and footage for smaller projects. A flash-drive can be distinguished for each project, or each component of a video, therefore allowing for easy organization. A flash-drive’s contents can also be accessed through most computers, truly a portable and lightweight necessity.
  • For video production, an External Hard-Drive is the most thoughtful option. It has the capacity to hold terabytes of data, a very important feature, due to the aforementioned fact that video takes up a lot of space. An external hard-drive can hold footage for several projects, which is beneficial because they can be accessed in one place, but risky because if the hard-drive is lost, so is all of the data. For this reason, many video makers invest in several hard-drives.

Another option is online backup, a service that is offered through services such as Google Drive, iCloud, Raid, and BullGuard Internet Security. The benefit of utilizing the internet to save data is that it is accessible from any device, and it provides the option of backing up fully or in increments. Saving fully should be done prior to any modification to the footage, as well as after a full day of editing to make sure the latest changes have been saved. Saving incrementally should be done hourly during the editing process. A computer crash can occur at any time, and it pays off to be prepared.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when keeping footage safe is to be organized. Keeping track of data is just as important as backing it up. The more devices that are utilized, the more that maintenance is required, especially for an important project.

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

Jobs of a Crew Member in Corporate Video Production

One of the most important components of a video production crew is teamwork. In order to achieve a productive workflow on set, and in order to lessen the possibility of a stressful environment, it is important for every member of the production crew to know, understand, and execute their role to the best of their abilities. This is especially important when working with a deadline, or for a client who is expecting their brand to be portrayed in a professional light.boston production company

Regardless of the scale of the production, there are a few key members that are part of every video crew. They include:

The Director is in charge of the video’s creative aspects, and has input on its plot, tone, and the actors’ performances. The director also has a say in the video’s lighting, camera composition, and possible soundtrack, as well as location and maintaining an organized set environment. The director has a direct relationship with the producer, and oftentimes the responsibilities of each overlap, which is why open communication is so important.

The Director of Photography manages the camera crew, lighting equipment, and grips. The director relies heavily on the DP in order to execute the perfect shot, especially because the DP controls and chooses the camera, lenses, filters, shot composition, and light design. All this is done in order to ensure the director’s vision is carried out, and to produce a successful, professional video for the client’s brand.

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The Sound Engineer records sound on set and mixes the audio footage accordingly in post production. They are responsible for developing a clear, audible video that allows viewers to hear every word. Sound is one of the most important features of a video, as an audience must be able to hear what is taking place in order to understand the overall message.

The Gaffer controls the lighting. It is important for a corporate video crew to have an AC in order to ensure a clear image and a visually successful video. The room’s temperature must be taken into account in order to film in the correct setting, and the aperture, white balance, and level of exposure must also be modified according to the set’s appearance.

The Hair and Makeup Team is responsible for making the video’s subject look appropriate and put together, which establishes professionalism and a businesslike tone. In order for a video to resonate with an audience, the talent must look proficient.

The Production Assistant assists other crew members on set with any additional duties. Usually, they are there to learn about the dynamic of a set and crew relations, and are responsible for making the shoot run smoothly by accommodating any requests that may come about.

The Teleprompter

Every video shoot is different, and depending on its scale, several members may be assigned the same role. A professional crew can be as little as 1 or 2 members, or as big as more than 10. Nevertheless, it is important for every person to know what their job entails in order to produce an outstanding video.

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

Different Types of Audio Equipment

While every video shoot is different, whether it be an independent project or a shoot that requires a team of videographers, recording sound is still one of the most important aspects to create a successful video. Whether it is a how-to, corporate, or entertainment video, there is an overwhelming amount of technology to choose from. Audio equipment is designed for recording, mixing, and reproducing sound, but the most important device on a video shoot is a microphone, which is solely responsible for picking up sound at an appropriate decibel, so that the footage is able to be heard and edited successfully. The most popular microphones are as follows:

Built-In Microphones

As the name implies, built in microphones are found in the camera. While there is a wide range of cameras to choose from, chances are that this type of microphone will be too far away from your subject, and the sound will not record as well as it could with a separate piece of audio equipment. Instead, this microphone will pick up every sound that occurs between your subject and the camera’s placement, which might be useful for ambience. This is why audio equipment, apart from the camera itself, is so important. In order for the video to resonate with the audience, they need to be able to hear it.

Audio

Lavalier Microphones

Perhaps the most useful for professional corporate videos, and most used by news anchors and interviewees, lavalier mics are small, portable microphones that can be attached to a person’s clothing, allowing them to speak and be heard clearly. When using this type of microphone, it is important to have a windscreen to protect against any frequency. Clothing is the most commonly used protection, but the subject may also use their body to deflect the wind or any background noise.

Audio engineer w/ boom pole

Ken, boom mic operator

Shotgun Microphones

The most common piece of audio equipment, that can be found on almost any set, is the shotgun microphone. It is not attached to the camera or the subject, but operated by a boom operator. Due to its shape, and its directionality, shotgun microphones are able to pick up very specific sounds, ones that happen right in front of the blimp (the cage covered in fur, meant to mask any wind). This type of microphone is most effective on the sets of interviews, but are versatile enough to be used anywhere. The sound has to be constantly monitored in order to keep up with the ranging frequencies.

Handheld Microphones

Handheld microphones, for the most part, are used by news anchors, infomercials, or any talent lecturing or performing on stage. These microphones can also be used to pick up surrounding sounds in order to create ambience. Rarely, during an interview, if a lavaliler mic is not available, a handheld microphone can be placed out of frame. This is an innovative, successful way to pick up sound.

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

LED Lighting vs. Natural Lighting

For a video production company, there are many factors that contribute to a project’s success. One of the most important being lighting. Video crews spend countless hours making sure a scene is well lit in order to make the viewing experience more enjoyable, and so that audiences are able to see what is taking place. Lighting has a component of cinematography and setting up the shot, one of the most instrumental aspects of the production process since the beginning of video production. Two of the foremost lighting methods are LED lighting and natural lighting. Each has their respective pros and cons, the overarching concerns being time consumption, cost, and that the lighting is appropriate for the setting and tone of the video. While mistakes can be made in the editing process, it is best to address most of the issues during shooting.

Production Shoot Lighting

SVG Lighting for Cable TV Pioneers Banquet

LED lighting is very popular among independent production crews. They are less expensive than tungsten lights, they require less power, they are portable, and they are safer because they take much longer to heat up. LED lights are an efficient way to light any set. Scenes in which they would appropriate include a corporate training video, a formal PSA, or an interview. With them, a videographer can engineer the perfect shot. However, they are still relatively expensive compared to alternative methods, and do not emit a full spectrum of color, which requires more lights to be brought on set. Cumulatively, it would be very expensive, especially if the production is on a smaller scale.

Natural lighting is a favorable choice for those with a budget, or for those who are shooting outside. There is no equipment necessary besides a reflector, which allows for the light to be manipulated. By utilizing the sunlight (or moonlight) already present, it creates a far more natural appearance. The only real difficulty with natural light is how unpredictable it can be, as well as the different colors that are more exaggerated depending on the time of day. If a crew chooses to use natural light, they must plan accordingly, taking into account the weather and scheduling.

Harbor Video ProductionEvery video maker has their own style and preferences, which is what makes video production such a versatile medium. The lighting simply depends on what looks best, and how much authority the crew wants to have over it. For professional videos, however, LED lighting allows for greater control, which demonstrates proficiency and evokes a positive response from both clients and anyone who watches it.

 

 

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

How Much B-Roll is Too Much?

In the production industry, B-Roll can be defined as supplemental footage that drives the story forward. It is correspondent to the A-Roll, which can be identified as the primary storyteller. No matter what you are shooting, the implementation of B-Roll is essential. For example, for documentaries, network news, or corporate videos, the A-Roll is the interviews. The B-Roll, however, would depict the footage that cuts away to shots of the subject, scene, setting, characters, and overall action, which is unique to every film. B-Roll shows viewers the story rather than simply telling it. It is responsible for presenting viewers with visuals to go along with the interviews.

Boston videographer

There is no such thing as too much B-Roll. The key is to film enough of it so that editors are able to insert the footage where it best fits. It is for this reason that there is no such thing as filming too many additional shots. The goal is to keep the story moving, to let it flow seamlessly. It confirms what the A-Roll is describing, making the visual aspect of the video all the more engaging. It would be unfair to categorize A-Roll as the more important, while it serves to establish and describe the film’s subject, B-Roll is what makes the story real, tangible, and comprehensible. Due to the advancement of editing software, the importance of each has become equal, yet the term “A and B editing” has stuck.

Regardless of the type of video, storytelling must be incorporated. They treat each set of footage as a team meant to shape a narrative, working together rather than competing with each other. If your video seems too monotonous, add in some B-Roll footage. Similarly, if the visual component is too distracting from the principal story, scale back. It is all about achieving a balance. Sometimes, there is a misconception that a shot may look better than it actually does, and there are lack of footage in the editing room. If all of the shots are out of focus, set up incorrectly, too light or dark, the video will not be visually successful.

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SVG, a video production company, partakes in shoots on a regular basis. Therefore, our video crews try to shoot as much B-Roll as possible. Naturally, a filmmaker wants their piece to reflect their best work. To do so, it is imperative to have options. Taking the extra time to film the same shot two or three more times, getting some additional footage of the video’s subject or its surroundings, truly makes all the difference. The more the better. When it comes to shooting, it is important to gather as much as you can so that there is no last minute panic in the editing room. If anything, you want a surplus of imagery to choose from to create a beautiful piece with a central theme and subject.

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

Live Shoot at New England School of Acupuncture

boston video productionOn April 4th, Skillman Video Group, a Boston video production company,was asked to shoot a presentation at the New England School of Acupuncture. The presentation was made by Robert Gracey. Mr. Gracey earned his Masters in Acupuncture from the Watertown school. The footage is to be used in helping Mr. Gracey with his video marketing. He will use it on his website and social media accounts to help build his brand. The live event took place over two hours and was shot in two parts: a lecture and a demonstration.

Lecture

The lecture lasted about 40 minutes and Mr. Gracey went through his background, education and methods. It was filmed on an iPhone 7 from a seat in the front row of the class. We didn’t want to get too close to Mr. Gracey as he spoke because he planned on moving out from behind the lectern as he spoke. If we were positioned too close, the camera angles would’ve been bad and the footage would’ve suffered. After he finished speaking about his methods, it was time for a volunteer to go through a demonstration of his treatment.

Demonstration

When the lecture was over and a volunteer chosen, it was time for Mr. Gracey to go to work. He is only one oflive event five acupuncturists in the United States that is certified to practice the Shakuju-kai method from Japan. At first we shot from another desk up by the demonstration. As the demo went on, it was important for us to stand to gain the best footage we could as all the students gathered around the massage table to watch up close. As the treatment was coming to and end, the students retreated back to their seats and we did too to finish up the live event.

Challenges

Since this was a live shoot, a few challenges were presented along the way. During the filming of the lecture, some late arriving students kept walking in front of the camera blocking some shots. Also, as the demonstration was being filmed, the students gathered around the table to watch Mr. Gracey perform. This caused for a quick rearrangement of the camera while trying to maintain a good shot. These challenges were minor but do underscore the nature of a live event. No matter what, you have to be prepared for anything.

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in Boston video production. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

L.E.K. Live Webcast

Recently, the consulting firm L.E.K. hired Skillman Video Group for their Boston video live eventwebcasting services. They needed us to webcast an important meeting of all their managing directors. Not all of them could be present, as L.E.K. has offices all over the world.  There was a lot of work that went into the production of this live event but our team was up for the challenge. The work was spread out over two days, the first day being used for setup. The second day was the live webcast.

 Set Up

boston video productionThe day before the meeting, out Boston video webcasting team was on the scene to set up. The set up look all day as there was much to do if we wanted to turn their meeting room into a television studio. The room was a large conference room with three rows of tables forming a semi circle.  The setup was broken down into 4 major parts: Lighting, Audio/Visual and the Control Room. Here’s how it was done:

  • Lighting-Three open faced lights with diffusion panels were used. This arrangement helped us capture the speaker in the right light during the presentation.
  • Visual-Alongside each of the lights were the cameras. The two cameras on the side of the room were to be used on shooting the audience when they spoke and for closeups of the main speaker. The third camera was set in the back of the room and was used for “safety shot.” Safety shots are taken by the director when the other cameras are establishing their shots.
  • Audio– Each seat in the room was equipped with their own microphone. The main speaker used a lavalier mic while he addressed the room. Getting the proper audio out of the room was integral to the people watching the webcast.
  • Control Room-Just outside the conference room was where we had our control room. It was a small unused office that we turned into a command center. All the cable we ran(and taped down for safety!) came out of this room and to its appropriate component. The director and webcasting engineer sat in here during the webcast. The director was calling the shots and the webcasting engineer was ensuring that a good signal was going out over the internet.

The Meetingboston video webcasting

The following day was when the actual meeting took place. Our Boston video production staff arrived around 6 a.m. to get ready for the long shoot. The live event started at 8 a.m. and ran until 5:30 p.m. Overall, the shoot went pretty well. There were some audio issues when the audience forgot to turn on their seat mics but otherwise there were not many hiccups. The director made sure we were getting good shots and our Boston video webcasting engineer was on top of the signal.

Breakdown

After the meeting concluded, it was time to strike the set. Everything we moved had to be moved back. The room had to look the way it did two days earlier before we set up. All the cable we laid down had to be wrapped back up and the gaffing tape had to be thrown away. Any set you break down should look like your video production crew was never there. After we finished, it was a wrap and time to go home!

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.

 

Live Event Shoot at M.I.T.

On March 17, Skillman Video Group shot a live event at the M.I.T. campus. It was for the Sloan School of Business Docotral Research Forum. Even though it was a quick and simple shoot, a lot of hard work still went into it.

Set-Up

Arriving at 8:30 a.m. for a 10:00 start time, the crew got to the room and immediately started boston video production companyto set up. Using a total of three cameras, the team from our Boston video production company got them in place. Two of the cameras were to be used to shoot the speakers while the third one was focused on the projector screen as a placeholder. This was going to be helpful in the editing process. We also had to white balance the camera so that the video we captured was the right color. For lighting, we used two open faced lights and one LED fixture. One of the open faced lights was placed in the back of the room, looking down on the subjects. The other two were placed off to the right of the presenters and helped kill any shadows. Another important aspect of the set up was the blocking. We marked an X on the floor with some gaffing tape in the spot we needed the speaker to stand. This also helped with eliminate shadows by blocking out back light. The audio was sourced through the house system but we still had to test the levels to ensure that the quality was top-notch.

Shoot 

The shoot itself took a little under two hours to complete. Each student presented their thesis and then took questions from a panel of three judges. It was integral to the shoot that our camerapeople were able to get the necessary footage while not taking away from the experience itself. That is true for all live event shoots. Soon after the last speaker presented, the shoot was finished.

Breakdown

Whenever you are breaking down a set, you want to make it seem as if you were never there in the first place. If you moved a table or chair, move it back. If you use gaffing tape to hold down cables, make sure it goes in the trash afterwards. After our Boston video production team cleaned up and packed up all the equipment, it was time to go. The project was not finished however, as there is still plenty of work left to be done in the editing room. Syncing the PowerPoint slides on the projector screen with the sound of the speaker is no easy task. No project is ever fully finished until the client is delivered the tape.

Skillman Video Group LLC specializes in video production Boston. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140.