Planning Your Video Production 5 - Analyse risk and evaluate
This is the final 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.
5.0 Analyse risk and evaluate
5.1 Analyse risk
Throughout the planning process it is vital to consult as widely as possible, consider what can go wrong at every stage, make plans to manage these risks, and document the process.
5.1 Legal and ethical considerations
Legal and ethical considerations are concerned primarily with the consent of your participants, the performance of your contributors, access to locations and the ownership of intellectual property.
5.1.1 Informed consent
The participants in your video must be able to provide their written consent to take part in your video, based on an informed and unimpaired understanding of your project and its uses. Consent is normally recorded through the signing of a Consent Form by both the participant and producer (or representative). The JISC Web2Rights web site contains a great deal of useful resources including miodel consent forms (see link below), but you should consult your institutions’ legal team before finalising the content of this form.
BBC Editorial Guidelines state what informed consent entails: “[T]he knowledge needs to be sufficient for the person to come to a decision to refuse or agree” (BBC, 2011).
As a minimum your participants should:
- Fully understand why they are being asked to contribute.
- The context of the programme.
- The nature of their involvement.
They should also be aware:
- Of the broad outline of question areas.
- That their contribution may be used elsewhere.
- That they are expected to be honest, straightforward and truthful.
When working with vulnerable (e.g. minors or impaired) participants you need to:
- Consider their capacity to give full consent.
- Discuss potential consequences in detail.
This may involve consulting professional expert opinion and result in you assuming more responsibility for welfare that goes beyond the end of the project (e.g. special measures to ensure the security of your recorng medium). Throughout this process you will need to keep accurate notes.
5.1.2 Legal issues (participants)
When interviewing and filming participants you will need to consider the privacy of other people that they may refer to. You should take special care to avoid or not to include comments that may be considered defamatory, or in contempt of court in your film. If in doubt, contact your legal team.
5.1.3 Legal issues (locations)
When preparing to film in public locations you should consider the privacy of individuals, and the ownership of locations, images and sounds. Essentially, you need to avoid any filming in public where individuals are not aware of your activity. Without the informed consent of parents or guardians, filming children in a manner which would render them recognisable must be avoided. You may use defocused shots and shots of feet, but with caution.
You should consider:
- Is the behaviour you are filming essentially public?
- Is your filming apparent and obvious to all?
- Could the behaviour you are filming be considered private although occurring in a public place?
While filming you may also encounter logos, images, and music that are owned by third parties. This includes music that may be playing while you are filming, filming that includes television output, logos on tee-shirts, and advertising hoardings. Filming that includes any of this content is sometimes referred to as ‘incidentals’, but their inclusion in your production may involve the same consideration as any other third party content you use. You need to consider how you will either avoid filming ‘incidentals’, or, if they are important, manage their inclusion. For example, where possible you should turn off radios and televisions when filming, your contributors should avoid wearing clothing that includes recognisable logos, and you should plan your public filming in a manner that avoids prominent advertisements.
5.2 Location releases
If you intend to film on location you will need to gain the permission of the location owners. Locations include obvious places like the interiors and exteriors of private property, including homes, shops and offices - but they also include some less obvious places. Many spaces normally considered public are owned by private concerns – this includes the pavements outside shops, shopping malls, airports, the space in front of railway stations, and parks and gardens owned by local authorities. It is also advisable to check with local authorities before assuming that you can film in the street. Most council websites provide information on location filming.
When you have indentified the owner(s) of your filming locations you will need to gain their written consent. You can usually do this by using a Location Release Form, but you will need to discuss this with each owner. Channel 4's '4docs' web site contains a downloadable model location release form which can be adapted to meet the requirements of your production. The form should clearly indicate the working title of your production, its purpose, the dates and times you plan to film, confirm that you have notified the owner what you intend to film, and include the agreed fee (if any) to be paid for the use of the property.
5.2.1 Methods Statement
The location owner may require a Methods Statement prior to any filming. This normally includes a statement of how you intend to film the location, the equipment and personnel involved, and your assessment of any of the risks involved. Typical risks include potential hazards when using electrical appliances (e.g. lighting), trip hazards, access hazards (filming in confined or busy spaces), hazardous materials and protective clothing (e.g. if filming in laboratories) and any local considerations (e.g. involvement of local Health and Safety advisors). You will need to show that you have considered the most likely risks and how you intend to manage them. The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) web site provides downloadable advice cards that cover typical considerations for working on location and other, film craft-related activities (see below).
5.3 Lone working
Lone working should be undertaken only in defined circumstances, which will be indicated through the planning process. Situations where lone working might be appropriate include filming static GV's (general views), filming in domestic or office environments, and sit-down interviews. Lone working is not appropriate when working at heights, near moving vehicles or in a potentially violent situation.
5.4 Document your plan
Effective note taking and record keeping is essential to the success of your production. You should ensure that your documents are kept in a safe place and that electronic files are backed up. It is preferable to gain permissions, licences and copyright releases in writing, either by letter or fax. If procured via electronic means it is advisable to produce a hard copy for future reference.
How will you know that the content, style and structure work?
If it is based on a pre-existing presentation, you should have a good idea how effective your project may be. If you are working on a large project it may be worthwhile producing or procuring draft or ‘animatic’ version which you can test on a representative target audience. Whatever you decide, you will need to find a receptive audience for your concept who can provide constructive feedback.
Evaluating the reception of your production is important as it can assist in the development of future productions and your production skills. You will need to consider how you will evaluate your production and share your findings. Your success criteria are dependent on the specific objectives you have set for your production, for example, if you are producing a video learning object it will be appropriate to assess how well your key teaching points were understood by your audience.
With an online video success can be ascertained by simply looking at the view count. However, if you are interested in engagement you can also explore more in-depth metrics (e.g. ‘Insight’ on YouTube which show the ups and downs in viewing for each moment of your video) and other statistical information (e.g. the number of times your video has been shared and relevant page views on your website). A useful resource in this area, which provides guidance and a number of case studies examining online impact, is the Oxford Internet Institutes' Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources (TIDSR).
You should also facilitate a feedback method by which viewers can let you know what they think of your video, if they have discovered mistakes, or if they have spotted potential copyright infringements.
The main considerations for setting quality assurance (QA) and evaluation criteria are:
- Build evaluation into your project: both formative evaluation (i.e. as you go along, to inform the project's development) and summative evaluation (at the end, to capture some of those lessons you've learned).
- Establish clear and well-documented quality assurance procedures, using automated and objective measures where possible.
- Be realistic in establishing acceptance criteria – it is not always reasonable to expect 100% accuracy.
- Allow adequate time to undertake the QA and any corrective work that might be required.
- Establish a mechanism for your viewers to provide feedback (e.g. an email link).
BECTU (2011). Health and Safety Craft Cards. (Online) Available at: http://www.bectu.org.uk/advice-resources/craft-cards [Accessed 10 May 2011]
BBC (2011). Editorial Guidelines. (Online) Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/ [Accessed 10 May 2011]
The Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation (2009). Release Forms. (Online) Available at:http://www.4docs.org.uk/wiki/index.php/Release_Forms [Accessed 11 May 2011]
JISC (2009). The Web2.0 Rights Project: Documents. (Online) Available at: http://www.web2rights.org.uk/documents.html [Accessed 11 May 2011]
Oxford Internet Institute (2011). Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources (Online). University of Oxford, UK. Available at: http://microsites.oii.ox.ac.uk/tidsr/welcome [Accessed 11 May 2011]
5.8 Further reading
Barbash, l. (1997) Preproduction, from Barbash, I. Cross-cultural filmmaking: a handbook for making documentary and ethnographic films and videos. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 280-324.
Kearns, J. (2002). Production Management, from Kochberg, S. (ed.) Introduction to documentary production: a guide for media students. London: Wallflower, pp. 77-97.
Musburger R. B. (2010) The Production Process: Pre-production, from Musburger R. B. Single-camera Video Production, 5th edition. Oxford: Focal Press, pp. 105-128.