Today, (14th of July) for the first time in over four months, my colleague Sofy Bazzini and I had a real video shoot, in a real location, with real people and real cameras… and it was… odd!
This may sound silly (as it is our job to go out and film people), but I can honestly say, for me, it was a bit of an overwhelming experience. It was certainly one that will take getting used to going forward.
Safety on set
Our biggest priority (with Covid in mind) was safety on set. The process started with researching how we were going to approach filming in a way that was ‘Covid safe’. We looked into what other people were doing, but many of the solutions were not practical for us. (Quarantining cast and crew together pre- and post-shoot or taking rapid Covid tests before arriving on location).
We decided that the best solution for us was to add time and preparation to the shoot. Don’t get me wrong, we always aim to be prepared going into a shoot. However, to ensure the safety of ourselves and those we were working with, we took it to another level for this production!
Communication, time and planning
We have communicated with more people for this shoot, than the previous 5 productions put together! Ranging from colleagues in Health and Safety, building managers and ‘heads of’, it has been an enlightening and refreshing process. Everyone pulling together to ensure that the safety of all involved was the number one priority.
The key factor was the addition of time. As you will all know, time is a very precious resource. Unfortunately, it is the first thing to get squeezed when working on any project. Previously this may have meant we wouldn’t get a chance to recce the location, get the schedule honed or really work with the ‘on-screen talent’. For this shoot, however, we all agreed that it needed to take as long as it would take. Therefore, everyone cleared a big chunk of their day to get the filming done.
The reason we needed the extra time (and planning) was to make sure that we were able to get the location ready. (We had to set up a sanitising station with hand gel and masks. In addition, we had to ensure there was plenty of access to handwashing facilities). Getting the equipment set up whilst remaining socially distant is genuinely harder than it sounds.
Kit set up and adjustments
Because we’ve all worked together so much in the past, kit set up has become a bit like a dance routine, with us weaving in and out of each other’s space to place lights and cameras. Normally, we would be checking each other’s equipment to see sound levels and framing. This was impossible in the current climate and required a few adjustments to our regular processes.
These adjustments included:
- More verbal communication (about lighting conditions, framing options etc)
- Having our own allocated kit, to avoid cross-contamination
- Regular breaks to sanitise any kit we needed to share (and ourselves)!
- Using different equipment. (Out are the trusty lapel mics we relied on in the past and in are some ‘rifle mics’ on stands)
There is likely still more work that needs to be done. Hopefully, we can refine the process for future shoots (as few and far between as they may be for the coming months). It has been an interesting challenge and a good reset for us to re-examine our processes and undo some of the ‘efficiencies’ we have developed in the past few hundred projects!
We just want to say a big thank you to everyone who worked with us on this project. We appreciate everyone really committing to the production and for understanding our requests in the ‘new normal’ to ensure everyone’s safety on set.