You know how you get to the end of the day and it feels like you’ve only done half of your shot list? We’re gonna fix this. Today’s episode is all about knives. Knives, and making your workflow extremely efficient.
If your video company is a one-man-band, or even a small crew, running a tight ship on set, will have a dramatic effect on your ability to deliver. And a few tricks can go a long way in terms of doing more with less. My old boss used to say that “anyone can do a lot with a ton of resources, the magic comes when you can do a lot with little“. So today, we will look at a few things that I found over the year to really improve my workflow when I go on location.
Today we are shooting at an incredible local forge, Iskander, who makes incredible Damascus steel knives. If you’ve never seen Damascus steel knives before, they’re forged from several different kinds of steel to produce some amazing and intricate patterns.
This brings us to our second tip – unload and verify your gear before you start shooting. First, make a packaging list at the studio, and make sure you bring everything you need. This makes packing a breeze and guarantees that you will not forget anything crucial. Then, on location, just review this list again against everything you unload. Ideally, you’ll want to set up a work area which is the only place where “free” or unused gear may be. (A small tarp can help in a pinch).
A good way to manage your gear is to have every item in dedicated cases so there are no “free” items that you can forget. for example, a case for tripods and stands, a case for the audio kit, a case for gaffer gear, and so on. Even the small batteries, memory cards, and cables have a dedicated place. As your workflow evolves, you will find the more convenient and efficient ways to pack, but for now, let’s just say that no piece of gear should be a free agent, everything must have a place.
When setting up
Our first tip is about arriving on location. Even as a small crew you may still need to bring a sizable kit to a shoot. Aside from the cameras, lenses, monitors, and sound kit, you may also need a slider, a few tripods, some lights, a gimbal, and other accessories. Those amount for a few cases and bags. And before you know it, there is quite a bit of weight and volume you need to haul over. Even if you can park close to the shooting location, a small camping cart can save quite a few trips to the car. A cart costs around $100 on Amazon and with the time-save, it will pay for itself in your first shoot.
Once you are on location, start going through your shot list. Depending on your talent’s availability, and the type of video you’re shooting, you may wanna group the shots by timing, location or setup needed. For us, many of the shots are either hand-held, sliding shots, or simply stationary shots on a tripod. This is why we grouped the shots according to our talent’s convenience and worked in “stations”. Since we will be taking a few types of shots at each “station” we are using the Manfrotto Move quick release. It allows us to quickly move between those setups without wasting setup time.
That said, You might see a bunch of cool stuff while shooting, but don’t get distracted. When you think you’ve shot your entire list, double-check it and just make sure that you have everything you need, and then go shoot all the other cool stuff. If you get distracted by the cool stuff before you’ve done your shot list, you might find yourself short in your edit.
When tearing down
Once you are done shooting, it’s time to tear down and pack your gear away. Remember that we talked about having a dedicated place for every piece of gear? This is where having a good workflow really comes in handy. It helps making sure that you leave no gear behind.
One last tip before we depart, make sure to put your cables away nice and tidy, use the over /under method when you wrap. Also, consider getting some of those hook & loop straps or cable velcro, they are priceless when it comes to protecting your precious cables.
There are many more tips for using your time on set in an efficient way. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and by no mean a full guide. I hope it will get you inspired to do more, with less.