Remote Video Production in Quarantine

Alysse Campbell - September 17, 2020

A lot has changed this year — an understatement, for sure. We’ve watched our clients’ priorities unexpectedly shift right in front of them, while our own industry struggled to find its footing.

While strategy, pre-production and post-production can all be individually accomplished remotely, video production is a team sport. We rely on each other to set up gear, get a second (or third) opinion on a shot, not to mention actors and directors working side by side for the perfect take. We pride ourselves on robust crews; each member of our team in specialized roles that allow focus, precision, and creativity.

This new world of production is tricky, but not insurmountable.

For one of our most recent projects, we pitched a tabletop idea. Tabletop videos have a DIY feel as they’re literally filmed on a table or surface. Typically, there are no actors; instead, there’s a focus on props, set engineering and extensive pre-production to ensure a shoot runs smoothly. They’re different and frankly, they’re fun as hell to create. Best of all for this Covid-era, the crew can be small, with as little as 1-2 people on set.

 

 

Our client signed off on the tabletop idea and we got to work. After extensive pre-production, we decided the on-set team would be a producer (Drew Grimes) and a multi-talented crewperson / prop-wrangler / hand model. We set up a private livestream of the camera feed so that the director, art director and other team members could monitor from their off-site locations, and we kept a video conference open for the whole day so we could stay in constant communication. The constant communication allowed for everyone to be involved safely from their own homes.

On top of using a skeleton crew, Covid limitations forced our team to utilize a few unique technologies.

We can’t have a director of photography, assistant camera operator and director huddled around a single camera or monitor like the good old days of 2019. Drew led this novel and tech-heavy video shoot using a robotic PTZ camera. A PTZ camera can be controlled remotely with software, so our team was able to manipulate the shot while staying physically distant. In this case, our crewperson was on set controlling props while Drew sequestered in a separate office.

 

 

While it’s been quite a fresh challenge to think differently about production, we know there are ways to make great videos while in quarantine. The limitations force us to a brand new level of collaboration, creativity, and getting outside our comfort zone. It’s not what we expected from 2020, but hey, the show must go on.

Need more inspiration for impactful, COVID-friendly videos? Check out our series of Creative Video Frameworks.