Every video production starts with a plan; we call this the pre-production process.
Our production team develops a strategy based on our client’s needs and what they are trying to communicate with their audience. There are many things to be determined in the pre-production process, but one thing never changes, and that’s the need for blocking a scene when the filming starts. So it’s good to start thinking about this early on by creating a shot list. It’s essential to work with a DP who has experience filming on set and has developed his or her eye to capture visually attractive material. Blocking a scene includes framing, which is all about creating interest through unique juxtapositions of talent and their environment. You are very likely to run into an unknown while shooting, so having experience will play a significant role in making sure your production is on time and budget. We don’t account for mistakes as it takes a considerable amount of financial and human resources to get ready for the big day. Our production team always makes sure to get the shots that we need, and a veteran filmmaker can improvise on the fly if things change or go south.
Every video production that involves talent requires 6 stages of blocking a scene.
1. Scouting This pre-production stage is contingent upon how familiar the crew is with the location. Most commercial video production companies will be filming at new places that they have never visited. Scouting a location involves the DOP and the person in charge of lighting. They will visit the site before the day of production and determine shooting locations and an inventory of lights needed for the production. 2. Blocking The director will determine where the talent will be on set in relation to the camera position. 3. Lighting The Director of Photography will work with his or her lighting crew to determine what lights will be needed and their placements to prepare the cameras to start rolling. 4. Rehearse It’s time to go through the motions with the actors and the crew. Rehearsing will ensure that the talent will hit their marks and the cameras are in the desired position to capture the action. 5. Adjustments The lighting crew will make final adjustment adjustments, so the talent and set are evenly lit. 6. Shoot Shoot the first scene, then move onto the next!
Here are a few tips to consider for blocking a scene.
- Create a shot list before you start shooting. Having a plan will be a huge help, but you can certainly make changes on the fly when you start filming.
- It’s great to work with a crew you are familiar with as everyone will know how you like to work, and it’s nice to know that each personality is a good fit because it can get tense on a set. And, above all, you’ll know they will have experience!
- Remember the camera 180 rule while shooting, continuity is key! That said, sometimes rules are made to be broken.
- You might want to let experienced talent ad-lib a little to see if they can provide any visual interest to the composed shot. Sometimes you’ll be working with non-actors. In this case, the more direction you give the better. The process will be foreign to them and letting them show you moves will cost you precious time.
- Think about the camera position one last time. Sometimes the environment is playing as significant a role as the talent.
- Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if you are not 100% confident with the shot. I’ve gotten some good advice from crews in the past, the ones I know and respect. It could be that something might have shifted without you knowing.
- Try shifting camera positions if you are not feeling a scene. You are probably not getting a second chance. Everything is there and set up, go for it.
- Mark all camera locations if you need to repeat a scene on the following day. Marking camera placement will save you a lot of misery of trying to remember where the cameras were the previous day.
And that’s a wrap!
Being on-set with a talented crew is rewarding, fun, and challenging. Sometimes commercial video production budgets aren’t what you want them to be, so you might have to wear more than one hat. You might be directing, blocking a scene, and filming. That’s why it’s essential to have experience on set – I’ve learned a lot from working with professionals from other disciplines and listening to their advice. Being behind the camera is still the most rewarding aspect of what I do; I love the challenge of transforming the ordinary into extraordinary.