There are a couple of fundamentals to studio photography and video production that will help you guarantee a successful shoot with little time lost. Moreover, you are probably paying for the studio rental, the talents and crew as well. The client is watching and time is ticking. So it's important to maximize the critical hours you have in the photo and video studio.
1. PRE-PRODUCTION PREPARATION.
As a film director and cinematographer by profession, I like to make mental preparations the day before the shoot. I will mentally run through the call sheet, along with the shortlist, the storyboard and the script. The whole sequence is all mapped out in my mind. What are the types of equipment I need for that scene, where will the lights be? What kind of light modifiers will be on standby? How about the props, makeup, and wardrobe? What is the camera movement? Sound recording is also a consideration sometimes. The mental preparation is equivalent to a professional dancer before a competition, every movement has been rehearsed many times over. There is little chance of mistakes when your body and mind are in sync. With this mindset, you will have more time filming, with fewer delays on the actual day of the shoot.
2. SET THE RIGHT PERIMETERS FOR YOUR CAMERA & LIGHTS
I like to get my camera perimeters all set the day before the shoot. If that is not possible, use the time available when your talents are doing their makeup to set up the scene. Have a stand-in on set to rehearse the scene, so you can get the lighting, exposure and camera movement set up correctly.
For studio portrait shoots, if you are using a 50mm lens, don’t go lower than shutter speed 1/60.
3. USE CONTINUOUS LIGHTS FOR PHOTO & VIDEO COMBO
Many shoots these days involves the combination of both photo and video. Traditionally, the video uses continuous lights and photography uses strobe lights. For studio shoots where space and time are issues, we drop strobe lights, in favor of continuous lights only. I know this approach will not be endorsed by traditional studio photographers and I do appreciate what strobe lights can do that continuous lights cannot, like the use of very large softboxes.
However, these days, DSLR cameras are capable of shooting photos at higher sensitivity like ISO 800 with very little increase in digital noise and color deviations. I find ISO 800 to be the best compromise for photography and video shoot combinations. Make sure you have sufficient continuous lights that will allow you to shoot comfortably with some room for your shutter speed and aperture controls. This will help you save a lot of time from multiple lighting changes.
4. POST PRODUCTION SUPPORT
A lot of studio shoots will eventually need addition post-production graphics or effects. This is especially critical for green screen shoot where keying is everything. For these shoots, I will have my post-production effect specialist in the studio as well. The footage can be treated by the specialist to ensure that the footages are good. Any adjustments can be made on set immediately. There is less time wasted shooting extra shots that we normally do for back-ups.
5. SETUP YOUR NEXT SCENE
Once your scene is set up, the lighting crew has very little to do except for some lighting adjustments that may be needed. If you have several lighting crews, leave one crew for your current set up and get the rest to set up for the next scene if possible. This logic applies to the rest of the team like the camera, props, and wardrobe. So by the time you finish your current scene, the next scene should be almost ready to go.
So these are the time-saving tips for a studio shoot. Much of these fundamentals will apply to outdoor shoots as well. If you require assistance in your next studio rental & shoot, do contact us.