Aardvark Video Provides Detail on How They Produce High Quality Video While Being Affordable to Clients
Recently we were asked to record a single spokesman on camera who would be reading a script off of one of our teleprompters. The client wanted a video with a professional, high quality look while keeping cost and complexity down.
This is a still from the video shoot.
They originally wanted to do this shoot in a Las Vegas strip hotel room but had second thoughts because of concerns about hallway and machinery noise.
This is a case study of how to achieve very high quality video results at a moderate cost.
Relative to a shooting location if not on a trade show floor, in a meeting room or a hotel room, often we’ll rent a sound stage for larger productions but for something of short duration that doesn’t need a big room, we’ll rent a meeting room at one of the local hotels close to us. In this case a room at a Hampton Inn. This isn’t expensive and certainly less than a meeting room on the Las Vegas strip.
We can record in HD or 4K but find that 4k is overkill for most of the needed work which is going to end up online. We have many cameras including Sony EX3s, Fs5s and Fs7s. To ensure a high quality recording on this project we used a Sony Fs5 with a Canon lens recording at a data rate of 50mb in 1920×1080 HD. We also record redundantly to an Atomos Shogun to ensure no lost footage should a camera card go bad. The Shogun also doubles as a monitor and focus aid.
Rather than worry about concealing a lavaliere microphone, we use a shotgun mic on a boom stand above the subject. This setup is particularly useful if we are going to be recording numerous people one right after the other and want to avoid fitting each with a lavaliere. We also use an audio mixer with a sound tech operator between the camera and the microphone to match impedance and control volume level throughout the recording.
So that the subject is stationary we provide a posing stool and taped marks on the floor where they should place their feet.
Of all the interview videos I see from others, the error I see most often is poor lighting and exposure. This drives me nuts because almost all professional video cameras have a feature called “Zebra” where you can set the amount of reflectance to elicit a pattern when matched. We set zebra to 75 IRE and adjust the aperture until we get a patch of zebra to show on the brightest areas of a Caucasian face when exposure is set correctly. So many people use what they see in the viewfinder as a guide and this is just wrong because a viewfinder can be impacted by ambient light and the viewfinder settings itself.
For many shoots we’ll use a background fabric on a stand, which can be black, blue, white or other colors. If we are going to use a green screen, we have specialized lights that are very even which we adjust with a waveform to ensure consistency across the whole area. With backgrounds often we’ll put backlights on it to provide more interest and separation from the subject. This client didn’t want a background so we used just the room wall as the background and used a focused light through a shadow mask to create a pattern on the wall. We placed the subject about 15-20 feet from the wall so that we could have the background blurred.
Lighting on the subject was three LED panel lights diffused with white spun diffuser gel for key, fill and a hair light. In case you the reader aren’t familiar, key is the brightest light on his face. Fill is the light that isn’t as bright on the other side of his face. The hair light is on a stand behind and above the subject giving the nice glow on his hair and separation from the background.
We come with a small makeup kit and used it to get rid of some shine and hair spray to knock down cowlicks. An actual makeup technician is always an option we give clients but didn’t use one on this shoot.
We have a very effective, easy to operate teleprompter, which uses an iPad and can be remotely controlled by an operator sitting next to the subject. The dialogue was quite long but the subject was really good at reading the teleprompter and did a great job that required only a few takes.
We began the setup at 12:30 in the afternoon and were packed by 4:00PM.
Now you are probably thinking: “This looks really great, you had a three-person crew, rented a hotel room, had a teleprompter and operator and shot for more than ½ a day. That must have cost a lot of money!”
The reality is we were able to do this for under $1500.