Planning Your Video Production 3 - Activities and dependencies
This is the third part of a five part advice document that provides background information on video pre-production.
Although these advice documents may be useful if you are involved in filming a single activity (e.g. a lecture or interview), they are primarily aimed at those developing more complex projects. For basic guides to filming, please follow the links to related advice on the right.
3.0 Identify activities and dependencies
Defining and analysing your production requirements may be all you need to do before going ahead with your video. However, if you plan to work off-site, recruit contributors, or employ additional resources you will need to identify these elements to assist your scheduling and control processes. Using your treatment and draft script you can work out what needs to be done, where, when and by whom and develop a fuller picture of your production workload.
You will need to:
- Identify all activities necessary to complete the production
- Establish the dependencies between activities
- Ensure that dependencies both internal and external to the production are identified.
The activities should include any that are required to interact with external parties; in video production this may include: arranging locations, and hiring crew, cast and equipment.
Any internal and external dependencies between activities should also be identified. For example, an internal dependency may be that you cannot definitely hire a voice over recording studio until a script has been written and approved (although you could make a conditional booking). An example of an external dependency may be that the production cannot go ahead until it gets funding body approval.
Site visits are an important part of planning and scheduling a production. You need to find locations that are suitable for filming and anticipate possible problems on the times of day they are needed. For example – is the space large enough, is lighting susceptible to change (i.e. the movement of the sun across the sky will be more noticeable in a room with large south facing windows), is there likely to be extraneous noise (i.e. proximity to flight path, on-going building works, lawn mowing, leaf clearance, etc.)? If you are using lighting during filming, will you need ventilation to avoid overheating (of equipment, cast and crew)? Will you need to provide refreshments?
You may need to liaise with Estates and/or Security departments to check parking restrictions, ease of access to the location and power supplies, and arrange times when filming will cause least disruption.
If you are working at a location that is not owned by your institution, you will need to gain permission from the building owners or administrators and ensure that this is recorded (see section 5 – Analyse risks).
3.2 The production team
In many instances, on smaller productions, you may work alone or only need the skills of staff colleagues. If you or your team are inexperienced there are numerous training opportunities available (including JISC Digital Media workshops) which provide advice and hands-on instruction in essential video production skills. However, with larger, more complex projects you may wish to consider outsourcing many of the activities; such as crew, cast or voice over artists.
Outsourcing work can bring some advantages (such as ensuring that industry standards are maintained) but there are also risks involved. If you decide to outsource it is especially important that someone within your team has a clear understanding of the technical issues involved as well as the requirements of your production. Having someone with these skills on your team will enable you to commission external suppliers effectively. Your institutions' procurement department will also be able to assist in finding suitable approved suppliers.
You may choose to undertake the production in-house because you have people with the right skills or wish to develop those skills. For some, a hybrid approach, dividing the labour and combining the benefits of internal and external resources may ease the process. Although dealing with primarily with digitisation projects, the JISC Digital Media advice document, To Outsource or to Digitise In-house? contains relevant, practical advice and information on outsourcing.
When hiring freelance staff it is important to ascertain their full fee (e.g. is it inclusive of VAT, are there additional charges for travelling to locations, overtime etc.), and if they are fully insured. Freelancers will need to have Public Liability Insurance, and depending on the complexity of their involvement, you may request Professional Indemnity Insurance (sometimes referred to as Errors and Omissions or ‘E&O’). You should also ensure that freelancers assign their Intellectual property rights and waive their moral rights. You can download a model 'contractual clauses for requesting permission from freelancers' form from the JISC Web2Rights web site (see link below).
Your crew may include freelance staff who specialise in all stages of the production process, for example: production assistants who assist in pre-production; script supervisors (continuity), lighting/camera operators and sound recordists during the production; and video editors and motion graphics experts in post production.
There are a number of online resources available to assist your search for freelance crew. The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Technicians Union (BECTU) website hosts a free professional crew search page. UK Screen Agencies (e.g. South West Screen, Screen South, Screen Yorkshire) host free locations, crew and facilities databases. Kay Directory is an established film and TV industry database which contains over 50,000 listings covering all aspects of production, from ‘Accommodation’ to ‘Wig suppliers’.
If your budget allows, you may also consider hiring freelance staff to assist with writing, researching, presenting and narration. The National Union of Journalists host a Freelance Directory which provides contact details of their members’ services. Some members may also offer presenter and voice over services. Spotlight, the UK film and TV industry's leading casting resource, provide an online database which is accessible via the purchase of a short term licence.
Hiring a professional voice over artist can be very straightforward. A Google search for “voice over artist” will produce many results, and most artists have websites that feature recordings of their work. Some artists have good quality recording facilities and can provide downloadable audio files of the script you commission them to record. Prices vary but you can expect to pay around £100 for a 5 minute script (based on 3 words per second – not the length of the video). This price should include a reasonable number retakes and alternative readings.
3.4 Third party resources
You may also want to use pre-existing music, sound effects, images and video licensed by external providers. There are some good quality free resources available online (follow the link to 'Finding Subject-Specific Digital Media Resources' on the right) but if your budget allows you may consider using commercial collections. These organisations may offer one or many licensing models:
- subscription-based services which allow you to download and re-use royalty-free resources during the life of your subscription;
- credit-based services where you buy credits in advance to use against fixed price royalty-free downloads; and the more expensive
- rights-managed, where the price depends on its intended use and exclusivity.
The wording of these licenses vary from site to site, so it is important to read the small print before agreeing. For more information and a list of collections follow the link on the right to: 'Finding Video, Audio and Images Online' and select: 'Commercial collections'.
The JISC Digital Media advice document Basic Guide to Shooting Video provides a very handy introduction to what types of equipment you need and what you need to consider when preparing to shoot your own video. If you are uncertain about what equipment you need you can contact us via the JISC Digital Media Helpdesk. It is also worth considering equipment hire as an alternative to purchasing. Your regional UK Screen Agency may be able to assist your search for equipment and facilities hire.
BECTU (2011). Film and Broadcast database. (Online) Available at: http://www.bectu.org.uk/advice-resources/crewbus/film-and-broadcast. [Accessed 10 May 2011]
JISC (2009). The Web2.0 Rights Project: Documents. (Online) Available at: http://www.web2rights.org.uk/documents.html [Accessed 11 May 2011]
Kay Directory (2011). Film Production Network. (Online) Available at: http://www.kays.co.uk/search.aspx [Accessed 10 May 2011]
National Union of Journalists (2011). Freelance Directory. (Online) Available at: http://www.freelancedirectory.org/search.php [Accessed 10 May 2011]
Skillset (2011). UK Screen Agencies. (Online) Available at: http://www.skillset.org/film/knowledge/links/article_2495_1.asp [Accessed 10 May 2011]
Spotlight Agency (2011). Spotlight Casting Subscription. (Online) Available at: http://www.spotlight.com/shop/product.asp?product=45 [Accessed 10 May 2011]