Pre-production on large digital video projects can be a complicated process, and here are a few important things that often get overlooked.
A New Generation of Pre-Production
Pre-production is one of the most important, and conversely one of the most complicated, parts of making a digital video. New technology makes the whole process a little more “do-it-yourself friendly," but extensive preparation before filming is going to make the process go much more smoothly and allow you to have more artistic control. At the end of the pre-production cycle there are a number of elements that people tend to forget, but their inclusion will elevate production immensely.
Returning to Filming Locations
The locations that are being used for filming need to be returned to, checking the state of the locations and the agreements you have made toward its use. Often times you will arrive on a location to start filming, only to discover it in disrepair or to find out that your permission has been revoked. Double check the permits if it is in a public place, find out how close the emergency services are, and that the location is open enough for all of your equipment.
If you are building your sets, which is not advisable unless they are very cheap and small, then all the plans need to be ready to go and building should have already begun. If these sets are being used at the end of production there is no reason that they must be done by the beginning, but it is advisable. Make sure all of the materials for all sets and props that must be built are in the location they will be built in. The best way to do this is to have them built at the filming location. This will shorten transportation time and costs.
Make sure all of your costumes and clothing are ready to go ahead of time. Make sure that they are adequately prepared, that there are enough back-up if needed, and that any costumes that were specially prepared will work adequately. Make sure to fit all clothes to the actors before production begins so you know if you have any alterations you may have to make.
The Trial Run
One of the most important parts of pre-production that gets pushed aside is camera and equipment tests. Run several camera tests with all cameras being used, including different tape or film stocks. If you are using a digital storage device like an external hard drive or memory card make sure that they are correctly formatted and that you do test runs with the video. Check all lighting kits, cords or cables, camera devices such as dolly’s or tripods, and any special effects apparatus. The best way to test everything is to shoot a complete scene using all equipment, and then capture it on the computer editing system you are using, and then give that system a trial run. This will also give you a chance to do a camera test with all of the actors, making sure that they’re planned clothing, make-up, and blocking looks correct on screen. This will also allow the second advantage of touching base with all of the actors and crew before production begins so everyone is on the same page and ready to go.
Digital video is much more resilient in production than classic film, but you still need to keep planning a priority. The better things are blueprinted then the better chance you will have that you will get what you want and be ready for spontaneity you did not expect.