How to Create a Video Production Schedule
Table of Contents
- What is a Video Production Schedule?
- Why Does Filming Take So Long?
- How to Determine Shot Order
- Determining Shot Duration
How do you even start scheduling something as complicated as a day on a video set? What do you have to consider? What order should you film in? And why can filming take so long?
My name is Hannah Robertson: Force Media’s copywriter with years of on-set experience. In this blog post, I will address all those difficult questions stopping you from scheduling your next video.
What is a Video Production Schedule?
Used in film, advertising, and marketing videos, a video production schedule organizes a day of filming by determining which shots will be covered that day, when they will be shot, and how long production will spend on each shot.
Video production schedules are one of the most important features of pre-production because they keep production days on time and organized.
Why Does Filming Take So Long?
It may seem unnecessary, but filming takes a long time because a lot has to be working at once to get the perfect shot. Even a simple shot with simple needs requires the right lighting, camera angling and focus, set, costumes, line delivery and facial expressions from on-camera talent, continuity, and more. For this reason, a lot of setup, people, and takes are needed to bring a video to life, and that adds to the length of a schedule.
As you see in this behind the scenes time lapse, one of the most time consuming steps of filming a video is setting up all the equipment, the set, and the actors’ costumes and makeup. Of these, lighting equipment typically takes the longest to set up. Lighting is one of the most important factors of a quality video. So to get a shot that looks as good as the vision in your head, the crew needs to take time to carefully set up their equipment.
Depending on the environment, natural lighting, and special needs for a shot, lighting alone can take up to a few hours to set up. Once lighting is ready, actors, camera, and everything else should be ready to shoot too (so long as you schedule everything the right way, of course)!
Regardless of cast and crew size, the amount of people on set can add to the length of a filming day. If a cast or crew member cannot show due to an unexpected personal emergency or unforeseen delay, a set with a smaller crew may scramble more to cover the position. For bigger productions, more time is needed to gather everyone where they are supposed to be, and it can be harder to set up if the area is crowded.
If a shot features a lot of on-camera talent at once, the director has to make sure that everyone is doing what is needed for the shot when recording starts. The more talent on screen, the more people they have to direct, which means more takes and more time.
Shots requiring actors to read lines typically take longer to record than other shots due to the amount of takes needed. It is easy for even the most experienced speakers to fumble their words or move their hands the wrong way, so it often takes many attempts to get the right take. This is also true for any non-speaking shot, especially those with interesting camera movements that may require special equipment or easily cause loss of focus.
Check out this behind-the-scenes example of more challenging camera equipment movement that may require more attempts.
Regardless of the complexity of the shot, you will never finish with just one take. This can add to time on set, but patience throughout filming will lead to a greater finished product in the end.
How to Determine Shot Order
A video production schedule is composed of two parts: order and shot duration. The best way to order your video production is to keep the following in mind:
- Timely Needs for the Shot
- Minimizing Setup
- Cast and Crew Courtesy
Timely Needs for the Shot
It is important to first schedule any shots that need to take place under specific weather conditions, including time of day. Please note that while this does affect outdoor shots most, an indoor shot will look different during the day vs the night if there are windows present in the room. Indoor or out, weather and time of day are important to consider for continuity purposes, especially if a single shot is filmed over the course of several days.
- Tip: Have a backup plan in case weather changes!
As mentioned before, setup is the most time consuming part of any video production. So when you schedule for a setup period, plan to film all that you possibly can in that location at once. Otherwise, the crew may need to tear down a setup just to put it back up again later.
Oftentimes, video production schedules consist of long days to avoid just that. If you need more than one day to shoot in a location, not only will you have to take down and put a setup back up again, but you will also need to make sure that everything is just as it was before for continuity purposes, which takes even more time to get right.
Cast and Crew Courtesy
As you create your video production schedule, remember that the order you determine affects real people. Oftentimes, breaks are not scheduled outside of meals, so try to order shots so that people can take breaks or not stay all day if they are not needed.
For example, if you need an actor for two shots, don’t shoot the first at the start of the day and the second at the end if you can help it. Get their shots done so they can leave as soon as they are no longer needed. It is inevitable that some cast and crew will have nothing to do for at least a while, but minimizing this reduces crowds on set and doesn’t needlessly waste others’ time.
Check out how we scheduled a video requiring several patient testimonials in one day in this behind the scenes reel!
Determining Shot Duration
It can be difficult to know exactly how long to expect to film a shot, but here are a few tips that will help you make the most of your time without staying on set for longer than expected.
Ask for Help
The best way to estimate how long a shot will take is to have experience on set, especially with the cast and crew that you are working with, so consider asking someone who has worked with these people before to schedule your video filming for you.
Every cast and crew member works differently, so it can be hard to know exactly how long a shot will take until you actually do it. For that reason, it is smart to allot more time to EVERY shot than you think you need. Worst case, you get out early and everyone is happy. No one wants to stay longer than they expected!
As the crew sets up, it is smart for the cast to also prepare so that they are ready as soon as the crew is. Make the most of every second and every person on set!
- A video production schedule organizes a day of filming by determining which shots will be covered that day, when they will be shot, and how long production will spend on each shot. It is imperative for an organized day of filming.
- Filming takes so long because a lot of setup, people, and takes are needed to bring a video to life, and that adds to the length of a schedule.
- To determine the perfect shooting order, it is important to consider the timely needs for the shot, minimizing setup, and cast and crew courtesy.
- Deciding on shot duration can be difficult, but it can be easier to predict with the right help, proper overestimation, and multitasking.
There is no way to perfectly predict how long a shot will take to film, but considering setup, production size, and the amount of takes likely needed will set your video up for success. And creating a video production schedule that prioritizes timely shots and overestimates the time needed to complete each shot will set you and your team up for success.
As mentioned before, each cast and crew team works at different speeds. Here at Force Media, we believe in the power of a small and talented crew that works quickly without needing a crowd. Want to see your schedule in action? Head over to our discovery page and fill out an application! We are happy to review your schedule or help you craft one from scratch with the formula we’ve loved for years.
There you have it! Now you know why filming days can be long, how to order your production schedule, and how much time to expect on each shot. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to bringing your schedule to life.