We talk a lot around here about how critical the pre-production phase is with any film or video production, and how so many people new to the process often undervalue or overlook it completely. It’s understandable. After all, when film and video novices think of production, they tend to picture themselves on set with the lights, make-up, etc.
But the truth is that without a productive and well-spent pre-production period, things will be much harder when it comes to the actual production phase. It’ll just leave too much thinking to do on-set to get into any type of rhythm, and while quality planning is the key to a good pre-production, efficiency is key to the production phase.
That’s why you or the video crew you’re working with need to do pre-production right. For more on that, check out this post, Film and Video Pre-Production Tips for Creating a Better Production and Better Project, but one of the most important parts of that video production phase is coming up with a strong shot list. So, read on to learn more about why and how to put one together for your project.
Why is a shot list soooo important?
Having a carefully crafted shot list on hand once production begins will go a long way toward making things run smoothly and efficiently, and the importance of getting into that kind of rhythm to any film or video production process cannot be overstated. But that’s not the only reason shots lists are essential.
First of all, while film and video rookies may think that doing everything on the fly and pretty much winging it is part of the fun and art of film and videomaking, the truth is that doing things that way isn’t just a recipe for wasting time, it can also actually impede on the creative process.
Think about it. Sitting down ahead of time specifically for the purpose of envisioning how your video should unravel visually, on screen, will force you to really think about the best way to tell your story and send your message, whatever that may be, and you won’t be surrounded by a crew of people awaiting your next move while you do it.
On that note, having a solid shot list will also go a long way toward gaining those people’s confidence. It’ll show them that you’ve come prepared and that you have a clear vision for how, exactly, to accomplish your mission and tell the story you’re all trying to tell.
And for those who are still thinking that it takes some of the pure creative fun out of the process, the bottom line is that having a trusty shot list will allow you and the crew to be more creative. You’ll be able to get through the shots you know you’ll need quicker so that you’ll have some time to experiment on the spot, should something inspire you.
Where should you start?
You’ll obviously need to think through your story or message first. That may mean writing a script or working with your video crew to do so, or it may just mean putting together some kind of thorough outline, depending on the scope of the project. The point is that you’ll need to have your story laid out before you can start determining how to visualize it.
From there, the best bet is usually to start with a storyboard. Why? Because that’ll allow you to work directly with the images in your head. You won’t have to actually put them into words yet, and storyboards can also be another great confidence-builder in terms of the crew and anyone involved in the production.
They’ll, again, see that there’s a clear vision and mission, and to learn more about storyboards, check out this great post from GoAnimate.com, What Is A Storyboard And Why Do You Need One?, but the bottom line is that a storyboard can also then function as the blueprint for your shot list.
It’ll be much easier to put your vision for your video into words after you’ve translated it into storyboard form, which is essentially comic-book style drawings of sequences. You’ll be able to constantly look back at those images to determine which shots you need when, but there’s more to the process of creating a shot list than that.
From there, it’s all about that efficiency.
While you can move freely and simply follow your vision for your video when creating a storyboard, when translating it to a shot list, you need to think more about logic and efficiency.
Yes, it’s true that some filmmakers prefer to shoot their films in order, meaning they move through production and their shots just as their script does, but that approach is rare, to say the least. In most cases, films and videos are never shot according to the order that the shots appear in the story itself.
In most cases, things like locations, shot and lighting set-ups, etc., dictate how a film or video is shot. If, for example, you only have a few shots or scenes throughout your video taking place at a certain location, then wouldn’t it make sense to get them all done consecutively rather than having to leave and come back according to your script?
The same goes for set-ups. If you can knock out a few shots without having to change the way all the equipment and lights are set up, or without having to change it much, then who cares what order they appear in the script, right? The point is, it’s just so much more practical to order your shot list this way as opposed to constantly shifting around unnecessarily or backtracking.
You also need to carefully consider the timing of your shots when putting together your shot list. If you’re being a little ambitious here and there with your shots, then some may take a while, so you need to factor that into the order of your shot list as well to ensure you’ll have ample time to do what you need to do.
Having your handy shot list will only make for a smoother video production.
The bottom line is that having a solid shot list can’t hurt, so whether you’re making your video in-house or you’re reaching out to an outside production crew for some help, it’s always a good idea to put one together or to make sure you find people who will.
Because remember, while it’ll be a huge help when it comes to ensuring that things run as smoothly and efficiently as possible on your video production, it’ll also help you to formulate a clearer vision for your video and will allow for more creativity and experimenting.
About Us: KVibe Productions, one of the top NJ & NYC video production companies creating video content of all kinds, can handle every aspect of the process. And whether it’s a commercial, a corporate video production, or a feature film, at KVibe, we always create to inspire.