How to Set Yourself up for a Successful Video Shoot

You know what they say — your shoot is only as good as your pre-production process.

Trevor Holmes


Planning on shooting your next video? Sweet! But before you dive right into production, it’s crucial you don’t skip over a huge piece of the video-pie: pre-production. Just like gearing up for a big cross-country road trip, the more time you spend planning for a shoot, the better your chances are for success (think of all the crummy motels you could avoid with just a bit of research). So, to help you get started off on the right foot, we’ve compiled some helpful tips to keep in mind while planning your next video shoot!

Figure out your core message

Before you even think about setting up the ol’ tripod, you’ll want to get to the root of why you’re making this video in the first place. To do that, we recommend nailing down the purpose of your video and writing an outline of the info you want to share. While you do that, it’s also a good idea to note some of the main takeaways that you’d like for your audience to get out of the video. Once you have that information figured out, it’ll be a lot easier to write your script.

Get Inspired
Need help writing your script? Check out this post to learn how to write a conversational, killer video script.

Mark up your script

Once you’ve written your script, you’ll want to make sure you mark it up. What does that mean? So glad you asked! Marking up your script is simply adding details to fill out your shot list and writing out visual cues to help you while you’re shooting. Typically, when you mark up your script, you’ll want to identify — and write out — what’s being delivered on camera and what can be done using voice over (or “VO” as it’s called in the biz). The more details you can include, the better! For example, it’s a great idea to mark specific camera angles, any off-camera direction, and even add photos of shot sequences. At the end of this process, you should feel like you have plenty of information to guide you during the shoot itself.

Do a table read

To ensure your talent sounds natural while reading their lines, you’ll want to get everyone together, crack open a laptop, and read the script out loud. At the end of the day, you want to make sure your talent gets comfortable saying their lines aloud, just as you would if the video was being recorded. As the writer and director, you should help move people through the script and fix any tricky word combinations or phrases that don’t sound natural.

Reserve enough time

When it comes time to schedule your shoot, it’s a good idea to book more time than you think you might need. This is true not only for the entire shoot, but also for each individual scene. You want to be sure you account for the entire process, which means thinking about how long it will take to do things like setting up a shot, prepping the talent, shooting the video, and even the breakdown of the set. No one wants to be stressed and rushing around, and scheduling more than enough time is a great way to ensure you get every shot that you want and that the process is a smooth one.

Get multiple takes

While on set, and while you’re recording each line of the script, make sure to get multiple takes. All that means is to shoot the same thing a couple of times. You don’t have to go overboard and do one take for more than an hour, but it is important to have different options from your talent for the editing process. I promise the extra effort is totally worth it in the end!

There you have it: everything you need to know to prepare yourself for a successful video shoot. Have questions? Pop ‘em in the comments section below!

Trevor Holmes


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