How We Directed and Produced a Video Remotely
April 9, 2020
Figuring out how to make videos remotely is a brand new challenge for us and lots of other folks out there. When our co-founders Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz wanted to shoot a remote video, Wistia’s Head of Production, Chris Lavigne, was inspired to create a behind-the-scenes video of his workflow to show everyone how it all came together! From directing to editing, find out how you can replicate a similar workflow for video production and content creation in a remote environment. Oh, and to keep things super clear, we’ll refer to our co-founder, Chris Savage, as “Savage” from here on out. So many Chrises in the house!
Fundamentals of video production still apply
Although Chris, Savage, and Brendan weren’t able to film in person, making the video wasn’t too dissimilar from making any other video. In Chris’s words, “All the fundamentals still applied.”
Do some light production design
First off, Chris started a Zoom teleconference call for the three of them and began with framing the shots. Both Savage and Brendan used Soapbox Stations to record, which are professional-quality, mobile video studios invented by Chris himself. These made for some decent production value right off the bat.
However, Chris thought Savage’s lighting could definitely be tuned up a bit. To do this, Chris had Savage open the Zoom call on his phone to show Chris the room he was working with. Using his eye for production design, Chris told Savage to put cardboard over a fluorescent lightbulb to clean up the shot. Once things were looking good, they were ready to record the video.
Video producers are uniquely good at making a shot look great. So, be sure to set aside enough time before your scheduled remote shoot so you can do some simple production design like removing distracting objects in the background, messing around with the camera angle, and setting the person on camera up for success.
Be sure to communicate with your talent
Before hitting record, Chris wanted Savage and Brendan to switch their audio from their laptops to their AirPods so he could be a bug in their ears. Also, this way, their microphones wouldn’t pick up any extraneous noise and keep the sound quality as clean as possible. Gotta love that crystal clear quality.
If you want to set your talent up for success, communicating with them and providing direction, just like any old in-person shoot, is key.
Record the best quality video possible
Rather than using Zoom to record the call, Chris asked Savage and Brendan to open up QuickTime to individually record on their own computers. Having multiple streams ensured Chris wasn’t hinged to only one teleconference call for editing. Once they had that setup, they started recording roughly at the same time, which also allowed for easier editing in post-production.
To record a video in QuickTime, just go up to “File” and hit “New Movie Recording.” A little pro tip is to hit the arrow next to the record button and change the quality to “Maximum.” This will give you the maximum amount of resolution and quality out of your webcam. See what we did there?
Shoot the video like you normally would
From there, the recording process went down like it would have if we were in the studio. Savage and Brendan did multiple takes, and Chris gave them some direction here and there. Ultimately, they made it through the desired message of the video and it felt pretty normal despite the circumstances.
Our goal with this video was to achieve an authentic feel — in other cases, we may want something to feel super-perfect and polished, but it didn’t make sense for this type of content. When directing remotely, have the people on camera do multiple takes to loosen up, get the right tone, and coach them through flubbed lines as you would have if they were in the room.
Put together all the pieces in post-production
Once we were feeling good about the message we recorded, Savage and Brendan stopped recording and uploaded their files to Wistia. Chris downloaded those recordings and popped them right into Adobe Premiere to start editing. Just like any video, he went through, chose some of the best takes, put the message in order, added some split-screen moments, and threw in some music and logo at the end. Most importantly, he was able to control the pacing and flow of the video by removing pauses that happened naturally from being on a video chat.
A look at the final product
Drum roll, please! Now that you know what went into making this video, take a look at how the final product turned out:
Getting used to making videos while remote
And that’s how this video came together! We hope some of this workflow will inspire you to keep creating videos even though we may be remote. If you’re working on content creation or video production, we want to hear what your workflow looks like or any other tips you have for making videos remotely. Keep on recording, video lovers!