So you have an act you want to do a live video session with? Take a look at our 5 key areas to consider to make sure the day is a success!
1 – Location
This is possibly the most important factor for any live video session, after all it’s the biggest variable factor that can affect the outcome of the shoot. Firstly, choose the right location for the act you’re filming. Certain outfits will look incredibly out of place in a poorly chosen space, such as a classical quartet in a graffiti filled street alley or a metal band in an office! Rather extreme examples but you get the gist! Of course there are always stylistic choices but remember it’s less of a music video and more a selling tool for the act so appropriately chosen spaces normally suit better. Of course experiment and listen to the client, they may want something wild and out there!
Always find out about the venue once you think you’ve chosen it, pictures can be misleading so if possible scout it out first. You don’t always know what it’s hiding, such as: poor lighting, hardly any power, the access is up 10 flights of stairs, no toilet etc. Sometimes spaces can have noise limits so you may need to do an evening or weekend shoot or it could be a tricky load in off a busy city centre street with no parking. Long story short, find out the details!
2 – Working with lighting
Lighting and location are closely linked so keep in mind your lighting design and what you had planned, especially the time of day and how much natural light the space has. Some spaces will have no natural light what so ever, which can be desirable but it does mean relying solely on synthetic lighting. Make sure you have enough with you to cover your act appropriately, normally at least 3 lights to avoid shadows.
It really does come down to location and adding in appropriate lighting where needed or desired. Normally for a live video a natural feel works best, avoiding anything too harsh or distracting, but like anything creative experimenting never hurt anyone, just be aware of time constraints.
3 – Timescale for the day
So talking of time constraints, planning a realistic timescale for the day is paramount. It’s all too easy for things to run away from you when doing a live video. Without a realistic plan you’re more than likely going to waste a lot of time and in the end, money! For example if you need to pay for extra hours in a venue to keep filming or have to reduce the fee to the client to keep them happy because you took too long and faffed about, both of which are far from ideal.
You need to remember just because the day is scheduled for say 10am to 6pm that will not be 8 hours of film time. Load in/load out of the venue could take up to an hour with 2 hours set up and an hour pack down being quite normal. So before you know it what looked like 8 hours film time is now just 4. Now break that 4 hours down into what you want to achieve such as song count and amount of desired angles to sort. How many takes will they need? Will there be any technical issues eating into that time? Comfort breaks; the band may want to have a short break between songs or takes? Basically there are a number of things that can eat into that precious time frame.
The worst thing is to promise a client it will only take a couple of hours yet 7 hours later they’re still there, potentially in a foul mood having cancelled other plans thinking, “why did we use these guys? They clearly don’t know what they’re doing.” Now from time to time no matter how much you plan some things are just out of your control. In these circumstances just keep the client informed of what’s going on and if you’re frank and honest, you’ll get a much better response than blatant lies pretending everything is fine. If there are technical issues let them know you’re working through it, after all good communication is key to keeping everyone informed what the time frame is looking like and what stage the days shoot is at.
4 – Getting the content right
So the location is good, lighting looks great and you’ve got the timescale down. Now it’s time to consider the all-important content. Never assume you’ve captured it right without checking through the video and audio. There could be something you don’t like the sound of or you may want to change a mic placement. Same goes with the video, a certain angle might just not be working for you or the lighting just doesn’t look right when watching back. Remember, just because things seem to look and sound good in the room does not mean that it’s the same story with the actual captured content. Use the act’s practice takes to check you’re happy, don’t be shy to ask them to wait a few minutes so you can check through things, after all they want it to be right just as much if not more than you do!
5 – Get to know the act
Another key aspect is the act themselves. Get to know them, their style, requirements, what direction they want the video etc. They are the ones that need to be happy at the end. Know their location and how flexible they are with dates so you’re aware when booking a location. If they are loud band mic bleed will certainly be a consideration and although with live recordings you want to embrace bleed and not over control it, making sure the vocal mic for example picks up more voice than cymbal is important, so pick a suitably sized space. Remember to watch or listen to any previous material the act has to get a bit more of an idea of what they’re about, it will help deliver a more personal service. Also try and figure out how well rehearsed they are and when communicating with the act remind them the more practiced they are the smoother and more relaxed the day will run. And lastly, remember to save their phone number!
Well that’s 5 key areas to look at when trying to successfully complete a days live recording. Like most things it’s a lot of common sense and good planning but stuff that can quite easily be over looked. So take time to do it right otherwise before you know it you’ll be 3 hours in, there’s no toilet, it’s dark and the act is a 20 piece thrash metal ensemble!