THE BITESITE BLOG

Shooting Time vs. Final Cut Time - Filmmaking Breakdwon (in Pie!)

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Creating a one minute video requires six hours to shoot? And what about time spent planning the video before you shoot? What about time spent editing the video once shooting is complete? Well, for our productions at BiteSite, it all adds up to a whole bunch of time (certainly more than six hours) spent creating final videos that can amount to under one minute in length. It can start to sound like overkill, but it's all worth it in the end if you're looking for a professional, glossy video that serves it's purpose. Before we dive into the time breakdown for what a shooting day can look like, let's just see why scripted videos take so long to shoot generally.

Video production has a reputation for being a time hog, and that is in no small part to the type of video we call "scripted videos". Scripted videos encompass any type of video where shots need to be planned ahead of time (with scripts and storyboards) and then shot very carefully to match those plans. This greatly affects the type of shooting that takes place. You can't just run around with a camera taking shots of anything you please and trusting it will all turn out right in the end like you might if you were covering an event or shooting a wedding. Rather, each and every shot needs to be executed correctly, which often involves a lot of moving parts (camera gear, lighting, actors, set design etc.) and that generally requires a lot more time than just having a light plan in place and hitting record on the camera. If you ever go behind the scenes of any scripted video, perhaps seeing the set for a feature length production, you'll find that the days often start early in the morning and end late in the evening. That being said, the time and effort will vary greatly between different scripted videos depending on what the concept is and the budget that is available.

For our purposes here, we'll be taking a look at the time-breakdown for a shoot that lasted around six hours. So, let's get into it... what are all the activities involved on a shoot day and how long do they take?

Oh, and just a heads-up, we'll be breaking it down visually by cutting into a piece of delicious pie. If you really want to get your mouth watering, check out the video posted along with this article. The entire pie constitutes the entire time spent on the shooting day; the six hours. Each piece of pie will be a section of that shoot day.

First, let's cut out enough pie to cover all the time spent before we actually hit record on the camera. This time chunk begins by transferring all the video gear to the shooting location from the vehicle in which it was transferred. This might seem like a trivial task, but depending on how much gear you have, it can take some time! Not only do you have to walk it into the location, you also need to unpack and set everything up so it's ready to be placed and used for the first shot of the video.

After transferring and unpacking, the location will likely need to modified. For the shoot we're using as our use-case for this article, we shot in a restaurant. That being the case, we needed to move around a lot of tables and chairs to get the space looking proper. On shoots that are even more involved in the area of set design, there can be a dedicated person (set designer) who will take time to go around the set and either add or remove items in order to optimize the location for you video. That being said, having a dedicated person for set-design can actually save time by allowing others to focus on different tasks at the same time.

Once the gear is transferred, unpacked, and the location is set up, we typically take a quick moment to gather everyone involved and have a quick meeting. During this meeting the director will go over how the day is set to run so that everyone is on the same page.

Okay, that constitutes all the activities that are required before we actually tackle shooting the first shot. And just how long did those activities take? Approximately 1.5 hours, and that's a good chunk of pie.

The next step is to shoot all the shots of the video. For scripted videos, each shot will require setting up before the camera starts recording, and this is what takes the most amount of time. First, the camera is prepared (perhaps by changing lenses) and placed. Second, anything in the shot (actors, extras, props) needs to take their first positions. Third, lighting needs to be set up. Lighting often takes the most amount of time as it requires a lot of tweaking to get things looking just right. Now, keep in mind these steps need to be taken for every shot of the video. Take for a moment the viewpoint of the audience watching the final video... every time there is a cut to a new shot in the video, that shot required planning, thought, and execution in order to get it right.

Alright, so all that time spent setting up shots took us about 3 hours on the shoot in question, and that doesn't even include time spent actually recording footage on the camera. Our pie is tasting delicious by the way.

Before we get into much time is spent when the camera is actually recording, we'll jump to the end of the day and see how long tearing everything down takes. Tearing down involves packing everything back up and re-loading it into vehicles. For our shoot in question, this took us about one hour. If we remove that hour from the pie, we're left with the last remaining time-slot for the day: recording time, or all the time spent between "action!" and "cut!". Recording time was 30min. In pie time, 30 minutes looks like this:

That covers it! Every project is different, but hopefully this gives you some insight into how time is spent on a given shoot day when it comes to scripted videos. Stick around for more delicious content from BiteSite, and please, take that last piece of pie!

Timclark
Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

Free Video Editing Software

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Video editing software? Free? High Quality? First time editing a video? Read on!

Video editing software these days is becoming more and more accessible. As technology inevitably improves, and the value of video becomes ever more apparent, the competition amongst editing softwares provides an accessible and valuable marketplace for the modern-day editor. Adobe's Premiere Pro and Apple's Final Cut Pro are hugely popular amongst filmmakers, but with DaVinci Resolve's somewhat recent foray into the editing world, a new giant is emerging.

Davinci Resolve

Today, we'll be talking about DaVinci Resolve, offered by the company Blackmagic Design. Resolve started out as the go-to software for colour correction, but has now successfully made the leap into an all-around editing application, offering not only high end colouring capabilities, but also a robust suite of editing, audio, and special effects tools. Additionally, with all the updates accompanying its latest release (version 16), it is becoming an attractive option in comparison to other options.

Video Editing Is For You!

In this post, we're simply making the point that this software, or any video editing software for that matter, should be a relatively simple thing to pick up for the amateur video editor. While the learning curve can become steep the more you get into post-production, the basic editing functions that allow you to create a great looking video are just that: basic.

This idea of simplicity, combined with the fact that the Davinci Resolve software is free to download, makes it a great option for people looking to edit a video for the first time. The key is to not be scared away by working with a highly functioning app, and of course be prepared to put on your learning pants, if only for a moment.

For a brief overview of what the editing process might look like in DaVinci Resolve, check out the video posted along with this post.

Free?

Finally, the zero sum cost of this software warrants explanation. You're probably wondering, "what's the catch?" First off, there is a paid version of this software that offers a little more functionality, but you get at least 90% of the product in the free version; it's definitely not one of those apps that is greatly reduced in the free version.

Besides it somehow making business sense for Blackmagic Design (the explanation of which I'll leave to the business-minded to figure), Blackmagic just happens to be very passionate about making high-end video products accessible to the the average person. "Average person" in this case could refer to freelancers, hobbyists, indy filmmakers, or pretty much any filmmaker who doesn't identify as a large production studio that can purchase very expensive gear and software!

To prove this point, check out this quote from Blackmagic Design CEO, Grant Petty:

"Blackmagic Design is dedicated to allowing the highest quality video to be affordable to everyone, so the post production and television industry can become a truly creative industry." - Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design

There you have it. Blackmagic Design: great company.

It's All Possible

Of course, there are other options for editing applications out there. If you're really wanting to keep things as simple as possible, you can go as far as shooting and editing a video completely on your mobile device! On the other hand, if you're excited to jump into the art of video editing, we recommend Davinci Resolve as a great option. That being said, we do use Final Cut Pro at BiteSite for our video editing requirements, and use Davinci Resolve as our go-to colour correction and colour grading application. In the future, we may switch over to Resolve; it is certainly proving itself as a viable option. For anyone looking for free software, Resolve is the way to go.

Thanks for taking the time, and stay tuned for more!

Timclark
Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

The Shot List

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Let's look at what's involved in creating a shot list for your videos. First off, just note that our shot list template is available for download here. We've used it ourselves in many of our productions. For some context on why you might want a shot list in the first place, and an overview of what it contains, read on!

Within the plethora of tasks to be completed when producing any video, a large portion of them fall within pre-production. The type and number of tasks depend on the type of video. For example, you won't need to write a word-for-word script if you're shooting a documentary, and you won't need storyboards if you're only create an event coverage video. In that same vein, while shot lists can be useful for a variety of video types, they are best-suited for scripted videos. Scripted videos often rely on specific shots to be taken so that everything plays back logically in the edit. Given this rigid nature of scripted videos, a shot list becomes an effective tool for two main reasons...

Why Have A Shot List?

Firstly, you want a shot list in order to make clear all the logistical details that relate to capturing each shot. Going through the process of filling out the template ensures that you're considering ahead of time everything you might need and won't get stuck on a shoot day realizing you failed to consider something necessary to make the shoot successful (eg. missing a prop, piece of gear, or even forgetting to capture a shot itself).

Secondly, shot lists can be useful on the shoot day. As we'll mention below, timing is one of the ways that a shot list is most helpful. On the shoot day, your pre-planned timing for each shot should guide how long things take and will help to keep the shoot on a timed schedule. As with many shoots, not capturing everything in the planned time-slot could lead to issues such as increased financial cost, unhappy crew, and other unnecessary headaches.

Order, Number, Scene, and Description

So, let's start with the first four columns of our shot list template: Shot Order, Shot Number, Scene, and Shot Description. - Shot order refers to the order in which you plan to shoot the shots on the shoot day. - Shot number refers to the number a shot will actually take in the plot of the video. - Scene refers to any defined scenes in your script, and may be left out if your video script does not specify separate scenes. If you do have scenes, organizing shots by scene can sometimes be useful to make the shoot day seem more logical, as you're tackling each scene in one window of time, rather than jumping all around in the script and potentially confusing actors, crew, and yourself! - Description is just a brief reminder to let you know what the shot actually is.

Timing

Timing is perhaps the most useful part of the shot list. In planning the shoot, filling in the time columns allows you to estimate how long a shoot will take, allowing you to plan, schedule, and coordinate accordingly. On the shoot day itself, the time columns will be a useful reference to let you know whether you're on track and not heading towards a longer than planned shoot. Off-schedule shoots can lead to potential issues such as missing out on daylight, losing access to locations, or increased financial costs.

When it comes to Shot Duration, Start Time, and End Time, they can all be completed in such a way that it becomes incredibly efficient and easy to fill out and also tweak as you make changes after the fact. The secret to the timing columns lies in using equations that auto-fill "start time" and "end time", allowing you to input your own "shot duration" times and have the rest update automatically. Accomplishing this requires that you're using a spreadsheet application such as excel or google sheets. Fill out the columns as follows:

  • each of the three time columns must use a consistent time format that is recognized by the software. We used 00:00:00 AM/PM
  • Shot Duration will always be determined by you, with no equation being used
  • Shot End Time is simply the Shot Start time plus the Shot Duration time (the very first "shot start time" is determined by you)
  • Every additional Shot Start time simply equals the previous Shot End time.

For a visual of the equations, see below:

Additional Information

The remaining columns of Frame, Lens, Motion etc. complete the rest of the shot list. These columns pretty much take care of any additional information that must be known in order to shoot the shots. In the planning stages, filling out these columns is an exercise in diligence, making sure you have everything in order for the shoot. On the shoot day itself, these detail columns also become useful. Rather than needing to think back to the script and imagine what the framing should be or whether it's a motion shot or not, simply refer to the shot list and have that information literally at your fingertips.

Preparation + Execution = Desired Result

With scripted videos, the end result is directly related to the preparation you put into the shoot. A shot list is a fundamental tool to get things in order in the planning stages. Again, you can download our shot list template here

Timclark
Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

Software Demo Videos - How-To Tips!

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Demo videos are a great way to showcase what a particular software application can do. After all, that's exactly what they're meant for! There are some important tips to pay attention to when creating these types of videos, and we'll be outlining them below. First off, how can these videos be useful? Software demo videos can be used to attract potential clients, update paying customers on the latest additions to your software app, or even take the place of live webinars in order to educate people on what your app offers. While there are a variety of ways you can showcase your software in the video format, this post is specifically looking at the screencast video, where the majority of the content is comprised of screencast recordings.

One advantage of screencast videos is that they are logistically simple to produce and with minimal effort involved. Rather than having to shoot video content with a camera or create all the graphics from scratch in a motion graphics explainer style video, you are simply recording your computer screen. The only other recording aspect involves recording audio, but even that is not completely necessary; on-screen text can take the place of a voice-over audio recording if desired. Generally though, recording audio is much easier to execute than recording video. Additionally, a great option for audio is to hire a professional voice actor to take care of it for you. As for everything else involved in producing screencast demo videos, you'll still need to put in the time to edit everything together.

Before diving in, I'll note that this post is not an in depth "how-to" on creating your own screencast demo video. Rather, we will be looking at a few important tips to get you started on the right path. Let's begin!

Writing the Script

Writing a script is a key part of the process in producing a screencast demo video (or any video for that matter). To some, writing the script may not seem necessary at first. You may feel that you know your software completely, and have a clear idea of what you want to showcase in the video. This may be true, but going through the script writing process forces you to really consider what you want to include in the video and how you want everything to flow together.

In the cases where you're including a voice-over (recommended), a script becomes that much more effective. When you write out word-for-word what the voice-over is going to say, your video comes across much more professional and clear for the viewer. Rather than having a conversational tone, with filler words and the risk of going off-tangent from time to time, the script will have the voice-over actor (whoever that may be) speaking in the most helpful and concise way for the viewer. Additionally, delivering the voice-over based on a script is always a big help in keeping the length of the video to a minimum.

Recording Audio

As mentioned above, you can hire out a professional voice-over actor to record the script for you. The reason you would do this is simply to get a professional sounding video as opposed to a 'semi-professional' sounding video. Voice-over actors will send you a quality recording that would be fit for radio or television. We recently made a post here on a voice-over service that we use, so definitely check that out if you're looking to have this done. It may also be the case that you simply don't have the necessary equipment and know-how to produce your own audio recording that meets your expectations. In that case as well, having someone else get the job done for you can of course be very handy.

If you are looking to record audio yourself, besides considering all the basics of recording good audio (using a quality microphone, recorder, recording location, and voice actor), one thing that may slip your mind is to consider potential revisions in the audio recording. While a script greatly reduces the likelihood that you'll want to change the wording in the script/voice-over, there is always the possibility that you'll want to re-record part of the voice-over, perhaps a week after the original recording for example. In these cases, it's very helpful to have access to the same recording equipment, and more importantly, the same recording location. Audio recordings are greatly affected by the locations in which they're recorded due to echo and acoustics. If you re-record a part of your video in a different location, and splice in the new recording to your video edit, the change in audio characteristics will stand out like a sore thumb. So, just make sure that you either record the original audio in a scenario that can be easily reproduced (eg. inside a very small room), or that you can still get access to that same room in the future.

Recording Screencasts

Recording a screencast is perhaps the most straightforward of the activities mentioned thus far. For recording screencasts, we'll touch on a couple things. First, how do you get the job done? While there are services that are made specifically to help record screencasts, we've gotten by quite well by using the built-in functionality that the Quicktime video player offers. If you have Quicktime, feel free to use it. Just select the screen recording from the dropdown menu, select whether or not you want a full screen recording or just part of your screen, and voila... you're off to the races!

Secondly, you'll want to record screencasts in such a way that they work well in the video edit. The tip here is to take your time. You don't want to be whipping the cursor around your screen, not leaving time to have things looking and sounding as you want in the edit. The voice-over recording will largely determine the pacing of the video; you will be editing the screencast recordings to match the voice-over recording, not vice-versa. So if you don't pause on a particular part of your screencast recording for long enough for the voice-over to speak to it, you'll cause unnecessary editing in order to remedy all those timing issues (attempting to add time back in, rather than the simpler option of cutting out excess content).

Besides that, timing need not be a big consideration. You might imagine that you need to record the screencast to perfectly match the voice-over. This is not the case as you can simply make cuts in the edit to proceed quicker through the screencast than the speed at which you recorded.

Editing

Once you've recorded the screencasts and voice-over audio, everything is ready to be put together in the editing timeline. The tip here is to supplement that main content with other things in order to keep the video both organized and engaging. You can use title cards throughout the video to keep viewers aware of the main points being made (similar to the video attached to this blog post). Your software application will have multiple capabilities, and having the repetitive nature of both the screencast, audio, and title cards stating what those capabilities are will help to cement in the viewer's mind the main points that were made in the video.

You can also consider adding simple motion graphics, or even static graphics to the screencast video. Depending on what you want to communicate in a given video, a graphic will sometimes be more effective in showcasing what you're offering. The screencasts act as the tangible evidence of your product's quality, and any additional graphics can help to give context or additional information. Some examples of these graphics might be the different payment tiers that your service is available under, or perhaps help to portray the problem that your software solves before actually jumping into the software solution itself.

Demos Are For Everyone!

That covers some important tips to consider as you go to create your very own software demo video. These videos are great in that almost everyone has the capability to create them. The more time and money you invest into each production will play a part in its outcome, but at the very least, they're for anyone who wants to have a demo video of their software application. These tips can also play a big part in having your video sound and look professional. When you compare a scripted screencast video with a webinar style live-recorded screencast that is instantly uploaded to YouTube after recording, the difference is night and day. Happy recording!

Timclark
Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite

Why we use Storyboards

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As BiteSite gets more and more into scripted works, we're starting to realize the huge benefit of using a very powerful yet simple tool: Storyboards. Storyboards are a great way to answer a lot of questions and in this article we're going to explore why and how we use them.

Why bother doing storyboards?

The biggest reason we use storyboards is it gives us a preview of what the final video will look like and let us know if our vision will actually work. When you write a script and have a vague idea of what your visuals are going to look like, it's not enough to dictate what shots you're going to use and if they'll work together in the final edit.

Storyboards to the rescue!

Storyboards are a cheap way early in the production to figure out exactly what it is you're going to shoot. When you're on set, busy with squeezing in 30 or 40 shots in a 10 hour day, it can be hard to keep track of the bigger vision. By doing storyboards, you're guaranteeing that up front, your vision is going to work. Once you get to the set, things get very expensive and if you're not sure your vision is going to work, things could get very difficult.

When you do your storyboards and base your shots on your storyboards - you can concentrate on getting great shots and not whether or not things are going to flow together.

How do we use storyboards?

It's a pretty simple process that we employ at BiteSite.

  1. Everything starts with the script and a visual ideas. The script will give us a vague idea of what we'll be seeing on screen.
  2. Then using the script, we'll draw storyboards using either simple pencil and paper, or apps like Paper for iPad.
  3. After the storyboards are done, we'll sometimes edit them together in Final Cut Pro and put music to it to see how everything fits together.
  4. If all goes well, we'll base our shot list directly on the shots we see in the storyboard edit.

You don't have to be a professional storyboard artist to see how things are going to work. Just some simple drawings to guide you.

Outcome?

Our latest project with App8 showed that we stuck very close to the storyboards and we were very happy with the results.

So if you find yourself working on a video production, take some time to layout your ideas using storyboards. It'll make the shoot go a lot smoother and you'll end up with a great video in the end.

Be sure to checkout out our video above to see a side by side comparison of the App8 Promo Video storyboards and the final video.

Caseyli
Casey Li
CEO & Founder, BiteSite