What I decided to focus on today is how many different things go into getting one shot of B-roll. My example is a shot we filmed in Phoenix, Arizona at the APL offices. After filming some awesome footage of a train driving through the desert, we needed to get a few shots of day-to-day work at the company so the audience can get a full picture of what APL and APL Logistics can do for them.

The first thing we did for the shot was we walked all over their offices looking for the best location. When looking through rows of cubicles and break rooms you need to keep every little detail – lighting, decorations, space – in mind when deciding where to film. After a lot of looking around and discussion we picked a specific corner of the office because of the angle we could shoot at, how much natural light was coming in, and the different APL branded items that lined people’s desks.

From there we broke up into a couple groups. Two of us started setting up the shot. This included placing lights just outside of the shot to highlight different aspects of the frame, messing with curtains to let the right amount of light in, moving different wall mountings around to give the shot some color, and getting the camera to just the right angle to make the office look as interesting and exciting as possible. While all of this was going on Greg had to find people to fill the frame. This involved finding people to stand in the front of the frame and pretend to talk, people to sit in their desks and do different specific work things to make the office look busy, and people to walk through the background at just the right moment.

Once everything is lit, the people are in place, and the camera is set then we are ready to shoot. You start rolling and think your going to get the shot first take but then someone unexpected walks through the frame and looks at the camera. You try again but then some one actually gets a real business call and you have to wait on them to get their work done. Then the sun moves on the outside and you have change the lighting. Usually by the seventh or eight take everything comes together in a perfect storm of visual serenity and it is then time to move on and do it all again.

Now realize that this shot we just spent an hour and half on will only be in the video for 5 seconds max, if it even makes the video. Everything takes so long because you making sure the audience can perceive the reality of the shot, something that is very difficult, but when done right can make the everyday seem extraordinary and pull people into the video, and clients into the product or service.

I hope you enjoyed my little behind the scenes story and next time you are watching a video or film, give a second to think about how much work went into that 5 second establishing shot.

The Doctor

Copyright 2011 SolidLine Media, a division of KV Media Group, Inc.

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