Preditor. It stands for producer + editor. It was the hot buzzword when I was in college attending the NAB conference in 2009. Preditor is no longer a buzzword or a trend; it is the new normal of the video industry in 2013.
Being a Preditor isn’t enough anymore. You also have to be the director, videographer, grip, sound engineer, accountant, marketer and more. You have to be more like a preditdirecgraphipenginaccounteter. It sounds more like a prehistoric dinosaur than a job title. Whatever it’s called, we do it all.
I'll share how I balance some of these key roles – producer, videographer and editor – and I'll provide you with some helpful resources and templates that I use to keep things organized.
We are often tasked to be the producer on a project. We must talk to the client, setup the shooting locations, talent and props, and manage the client’s expectations. With limited resources and a small crew, keeping people organized is a challenge.
Before any shoot, you should create a call sheet and give it to everyone involved in the shoot. For a really good article about what to include in a call sheet and a helpful template, check this post from the Stillmotion blog. Using a call sheet will keep track of what you want to accomplish, where, when and with whom for a shoot on a given day. This will reduce the number of panicked calls from people that don't know what they should be doing and where they should be. It will also give your client confidence that you are organized and can execute on the project vision even if you have a small team.
It may be cliché but while shooting I say to myself, “Lights, camera, audio, action” each time before I hit the record button. When I get pulled away to instruct the talent or adjust the lighting, this short saying puts me back on track when it’s time to record.
Before you start the next shot, repeat the saying and double check that the lights are on; the camera is in focus, white balanced and exposed correctly and audio is coming through. This will eliminate any surprises when you come back to look at your footage the next day.
It is mandatory to keep a shot sheet. Even if it’s a quick interview, writing down the following information will be immensely helpful a week later when you sit down to edit.
- Shot number
- Quick description
- Good/bad/maybe comment
- Date and Time
Trust me, you won’t remember that in take nine they mentioned something they weren’t supposed to and told you after recording not to use that take. Write it down. Here’s a sample Excel sheet you can use.
After the shoot, I watch all my footage with the shot sheet and I mark up and organize the footage before any editing begins. This jogs my memory of everything I shot and gives me a feel for how much “fix it in post” I’ll be doing. Once my project is ready for the client’s first look at it, I export a QuickTime Movie, H.264, Windows Media Video or other video file and upload it to ScreenLight for review.
One problem is that a project can sit for days or weeks (or even months) in the client’s inbox. That’s why it’s vital to keep a Current Projects Log (CPL). In a CPL, write down every interaction with the project from the shoot date onward along with any other vital information. This may include project abbreviations, client comments, questions and items you’re waiting for. Here’s a sample that you can download and customize.
It is also helpful to keep a Revisions or Change-Order Sheet. Put this on a colored piece of paper, I prefer green, and write what the changes are, who requested them, on what date, what items (i.e. voiceover and graphics) will be needed and then staple the email where you received this information. If you received the instructions over the phone, email what you discussed and have them confirm via email to eliminate potential miscommunication.
Not only must we be jacks-of-all-trades, we must be masters of all. Hopefully these resources can help keep you on track when you’re in any stage of video production.