‘Tis the season to blend together voices, bells, musical instruments, foods, spices, wine (mulled or otherwise), and to create something that is larger than the sum of it’s many delightful parts. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, we can all agree that when many pieces come together and work in collaboration towards a greater good, it’s like harmony, right?
While there are many fine “All in one” people in video production (individuals who write, shoot, and edit without bringing in any additional resources), to truly create video magic I believe you must have a team. In the spirit of that ubiquitous holiday song, I now present to you the Carol of the Production Team.
The Producer: That consistent layer that keeps time, underlies the entire production, and delivers on the final moment, the Producer provides creative direction, pulls together the team, manages the story, the budget, and the schedule, and brings the client’s vision to life. The Producer stays involved in the project from concept through delivery, and is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of any given piece.
The Writer: Every video begins with a script. Whether drawn from interview clips, written as a narrative, or informational or instructional, a video script is a unique form of writing that considers both the words (either heard or seen as onscreen text), and the stories told through imagery. Without a good script, you have no chance of producing a good video.
The Director of Photography: The DP, typically also the camera operator, captures the images described by the script. Every moment, or scene, is broken down into the individual shots needed to best tell that visual story. The DP considers color grade, lighting, and composition of the frame, and often works with a Grip or Assistant Camera to help with complex moves and shots that require a change of focal length, cable wrangling, or use of a jib, crane, or other equipment.
The Gaffer: Every professional actor knows how important it is to be nice to the gaffer. Lighting can be very flattering, or very not (think department store fitting room.). The DP works with the Gaffer to use existing ambient light (like lamps), natural light (windows), and/or production lights to ensure the right look for the project. Great lighting takes time, which is why most production teams work on 5 hour shifts at a minimum. Even a single set-up can take over an hour to correctly light.
The Audio Engineer: Say it with me now, Sound is 50% of video. Poor audio automatically sends a signal to the audience that this is an amateur production. The Audio Engineer provides and places the microphones needed to capture the scene, and mixes the levels to create clean, clear, and professional sound.
The Editor: Editing is where the magic happens. All of the pieces that were so carefully planned by the Producer and captured by the DP, Grip, and Audio team come together and are assembled by the Editor. This is also an opportunity to refine the story – the editor works based on what has been planned, but also on what is actually onscreen (which can be different and better than what was planned, particularly in the case of interview driven videos). Editing can make or break a project, and is one of the most time-consuming aspects of production.
The Colorist: Many Editors also do their own color work, but this can be a separate role. The Colorist works to achieve a consistent and appropriate color grade for all the footage. Depending on the project, this can mean creating a warmer or cooler look, natural or saturated, black & white, sepia, or even a blend of styles to highlight a particular moment or story point. Again, poor color work is a sign of amateur production.
Post-Production Sound: This is where music and sound f/x are created or chosen, and layered in and balanced with the onscreen production audio to create an emotional journey through sound that helps to drive the onscreen story and action. Unbalanced sound creates a disjointed viewing experience – and the last thing you want is for your audience to be turned off by a poor audio balance.
Now, different projects call for different talent, and I haven’t even touched on actors, voiceover artists, composers, drone or helicopter operators, motion designers, production designers, production assistants, or makeup artists. And, sometimes roles can be combined into one person – Producer/Writer, Grip/Audio, Editor/Color/Post Production Sound. But you get the point, right? A layered video, like a layered carol, requires a choir of voices. And the sound it makes – harmony.
Want to create your own harmonious video? Our choir would love to help you. Contact us!